A World of Enlightened Opinion

A while ago, some folks (me included) were surprised by how things could go viral on the internet. Looking back, we should not have been surprised. Things have been going viral for as long as humans have been around. We just didn’t use the internet to help speed up the process.

In this sense, while some of the argument that Malcolm Gladwell made in “The Tipping Point” has been found to be wrong, his underlying point is well taken – it pays to understand why things go viral. Jonah Berger points out in “Contagious” that part of the reason is how the message hits us. For example, does it connect with something we regularly do?

But there is something more basic going on. That more basic thing has to do with the effects of things going viral. When they go viral, they change our perspective. Viral things more us to a decision – even if that decision is about what we like and do not like.

This is why a message as simple as “I do not like X”, if repeated enough can have a viral effect. Perhaps that is the secre3t of Fox. Fox does not like Obama. Keep saying it. That message went viral and created a community of persons who shared that dislike. Fox made that dislike important.

In other words, viral messaging is about opinion forming. It is a form of argument. Learn how to make an opinion go viral, and you will have mastered a basic 21st century skill.

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