This is the part where I explain how my last post, “What to do in the event you wake up Tuesday and Stephen Harper is still Prime Minister,” went viral. Clearly, having a short title is not crucial to viralocity.
I should clarify that when I say “viral,” I mean “viral in Canada,” which is like being famous in Scranton.
Quasi-viral is probably more like it.
But it’s all relative, yes? Normally, a post of mine receives around 100 views on publication day. (Why have you forsaken me, my 4600 followers?) Believe me, I’m happy with 100 — so much better than 2. But last Thursday, my post received over 12,000 views. On Friday, nearly 100,000, Saturday 74,000 and 40,000 on Sunday.
What do we learn from this? That people are not working very hard on Friday. I may have singlehandedly pinpointed Canada’s productivity problem.
As of this posting, the piece has been read over 254,000 times. It’ll stop now; the election is over and everyone is too exhausted/angry/elated/drunk to read suddenly irrelevant political satire. The piece had a shelf life. The numbers crashed Monday night as soon as it was clear Harper was getting the boot.
[Update: as of 2:30 p.m., it had been read 2878 times today. Don’t these people watch the news?]
But it’s very shelf life probably helped it make the rounds. Yeah, suddenly I’m a guru. So here are my tips for quasi-success:
- Keep your post topical and timely.
- Let the reader know what it’s about. The title, though long, clearly explained the subject.
- Have something fresh to say or at least say it in a fresh way. In my case, I had been struck by so many people thinking that a Harper victory would be a national disaster. Pushing it further, I wondered, what if we actually treated it like a natural disaster? It was pretty easy to write after that.
- Twitter works. I tweeted my post in the morning, with a #StephenHarper tag. I got one misspelled reply from a crank. Go figure. But I deleted that post and added the “Canadian politics” tag #cdnpoli. Tweeted again. It was then retweeted by Maclean’s columnist Scott Feschuk, who has 15,000 followers. From there, it took off.
- People love lists. Right, X?
- Always include a photo in your tweet.
Do all these things and I can guarantee… it probably won’t work. It’s mostly just dumb luck.
So what’s the payoff to going viral. Well, I gained some new followers on Twitter and on WordPress (hi there! It gets funnier around here, trust me), about 60 people clicked the link to my book on Amazon, exactly 0 people purchased my book on Amazon, and I spent way too much time looking at this:
Of course, getting read by thousands and thousands of people? That’s not too shabby.
The experience — and the consequential onslaught of comments — also made me appreciate how supportive, friendly and downright civil this WordPress neighbourhood is when it’s, you know, “just us.” So thanks to all you regular, sweet people who read this every week.
And now, back to normal. Back to 17 people listening to the audio piece below, prepared for CBC Radio’s “Breakaway.” Still better than 2. The piece is about, appropriately enough, taking a breath. Namaste, y’all.