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Unlikely Viral Phenomenon

My thanks to Scott Gillumresident of gyro, who blogs regularly at, for sharing these lessons about Social Media on This summarizes his insights.

By now you’ve probably seen the “Gangnam Style” video by Korean rapper, PSY whose “ride the horse”dance has garnered these stats:

  • YouTube’s most liked song ever.
  •   300 million views and 3 million likes.

How did an obscure South Korean rap singer, singing in a little-known foreign language, make this viral phenomenon? PSY himself, in an interview with Time said that it was all about luck.

Scott concurs that there is an element of serendipity:

The truth is (although we have our theories) most of us don’t really know what will engage audiences and encourage them to share. After blogging about marketing for more than six years, I have no idea why certain content is shared.

3 Viral Marketing Success Trends

Still, Scott’s analysis reveals three common trends that may partly account for the video’s success:

  • Release Date: Mondays are the best days to post content, and 10 a.m. is the peak time for views. Thursday is the most challenging day (except for summer months).
  • Channel: Stumble Upon is the most valuable sharing tool for driving views, followed by LinkedIn, with LinkedIn having the “longest tail.”
  • Don’t Rely Social Sharing Sites: Twitter and Facebook are very difficult to assess in terms of driving views. While social sharing may seem valuable with broad distribution of links, it doesn’t guarantee views.

Timing: Scott discusses some of the research that is beginning to provide insights into how behavior drives social habits, including the connection between our internal body clocks and our online behavior:

  • Twitter in the Morning: “Reading Twitter first thing in the morning (8 a.m. to 9 a.m.) can start one’s day on a cheery note because it’s when tweets are the most upbeat,” according to a Wall Street Journal article.
  • Retweet in the Afternoon:  Dan Zarrella, who is a social-media scientist for HubSpot finds that if you want your tweets to be retweeted, you should post them between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., “when many people lack energy to share their own tweets and turn to relaying others’.”
  • Facebook in the Evening: Zarrella found that Facebook posts around 8 p.m. tend to get the most likes. By then, people have come home from work, finished dinner, and are feeling less stress.

Content Matters

Keep It Light: Although people have a lot to express, get off their chest and a variety of reasons for sharing social content, Scott reminds us that:

Given the pressures of today’s world, perhaps it isn’t all that hard to understand why people share. They do it because something makes them smile, or laugh, or want to dance, and they’d like someone else to feel that way as well. Asked about the secret to his overnight success, PSY commented, “These days people seem so stressed, so I just want to make fun by my music. As an artist and an entertainer and a writer, I think that was my job: anti-stress.”

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