Relatively viral

imageThis 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.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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55 Responses to Relatively viral

  1. Karen says:

    I noticed the number of FB shares when I read the post (because I compulsively pay attention to that sort of stuff), but good on you. And even better, Trudeau (or the Liberals, or both, I’m not too clear on how Canadian elections work) won.

  2. New convert here, born in on the wave of your success. Congratulations and love your hUmour. 🙂

  3. I had a similar experience with a post recently – fortunately it had nothing to do with politics. I’m glad things have settled down and like you, have a great appreciation for the gentler readers of WordPress.

    Loved the audio piece. Laughter trumps meditation every single time. I’m off to do some yoga, but am now adding the collapsible umbrella to my other moves (downward dangit-that-hurts and hungry child pose). Enjoy your day!

  4. Paul says:

    Hmmm, “viralocity” – isn’t that where you go to find the best rate on virals – like colds or the flu or such? BY the way, you said you had thousands of visitors- by my calculations you had hundreds of thousands of visitors – just a small step from there to millions. You are famous – the only famous Canadian I know. Have a Namaste oh great one..

  5. byebyebeer says:

    All us regulars were way ahead of the curve. Glad you got extra, much deserved clicks and hope it continues. The famous in Scranton line made me chortle. (And THAT’S why I’ll keep coming back.)

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Oh, it’s all a lot of navel-gazing but I thought other bloggy types might be interested. I have a hard time taking myself seriously, so why should anyone else! And do keep coming back.

  6. Why are men always looking at the vertical size of their histogram chart?

  7. goldfish says:

    I knew him before he was quasi-famous.

    •flips hair over shoulder•

  8. pinklightsabre says:

    I have family in Scranton — Wilkes-Barre, in fact. Like that “The Office” is set there in the American version, I think. That’s cool; going viral. None of it seems to mean anything but like everything else, it’s fun to believe. And why not, believe? I’ve been wondering where you’ve been recently and thinking about you as you approach your Big Day in November, ha. I wonder why people follow me because it’s clear I don’t know where I’m going but maybe that doesn’t matter. Bye for now – heading north tomorrow to exit the Schengen, will be in touch from Scotland and so forth. (Sorry, I just loved saying that.)

    • rossmurray1 says:

      They follow you because the writing’s so good, dope. And you have the whole quest thing goin’ awn.
      I’ve had your latest open to read all morning for when I get a pause. But there aren’t many pauses these days.

      • pinklightsabre says:

        There are men o’ pauses. Sorry. Having wine now, it’s later here. Take your time my friend. Slow down. “Langsom.”

  9. Carrie Rubin says:

    Wow, that’s awesome! Good on you, as they say in your wonderful country. 🙂

  10. If only you had a dollar (a Canadian dollar, that is) for every one of those hits!
    What would that be in real money?

  11. ksbeth says:

    the only thing i know about ‘viral’, is that antibiotics won’t work. glad you are okay, and your post is too. )

  12. markbialczak says:

    Congratulations, Ross. You deserve all the eyes. Now your bar graph is going to look so tiny in comparison. Small annoyance there, huh? We regular readers are still with the program, by the way.

  13. Congratulations, Ross. 🙂 And I’m happy that I didn’t need to use your survival guide. 🙂

  14. It was an exceptional piece. I’m not surprised it went viral. (Stop kidding yourself. That counts.) Your tips are very helpful. Maybe I should buckle down and get a twitter account. God help me. I just stumbled across a list in my journals from 1995. Let’s see how this goes.

  15. Dina Honour says:

    Excellent. Now, please write one for the upcoming American election…you’ve got 12 months to sway everyone to right side (when right is left). Use the force if you must. And….GO! Congrats!

  16. Shan Dalamani says:

    I didn’t used to comment much on social media until this past year and discovered that I wanted to have my say about Canadian politics (it’s a bit difficult to do that, being a Liberal/NDP supporter in Central Alberta). So thank you for providing one of the places where we can have our say without the neighbors getting upset.

    I’m generally pleased with how the election turned out (my riding stayed Conservative, no surprise there), and the reason you’re still getting views is because of the post-mortem “where did we go wrong” questions. Some candidates and parties get it; the Conservatives, as usual, are clueless (going by what I’ve read on CBC).

    Anyway, it was definitely an interesting election, and thanks for the opportunity to comment (someone passed your blog address along to me in an email, in case you were wondering how I got here).

    • findthecommonthread says:

      Funny, and since then Shan has commented over 5,000 on CBC being inflammatory, belligerent, judgemental, uninformed and self righteous. I got off social media during the Canadian elections and they gave this sad excuse for a brain a platform to be all of the above qualities.

  17. List of X says:

    I have no idea if people really like lists, Ross. But then my lists never go all the way up to 20. Maybe 20 is the magic number, not 10, and I need to change my name to List of XX.
    (Although, in my case, I’d have a bigger chance of going viral with lists of 30…)

  18. Dude, I saw the insane amount of FB shares on the post and knew you were kicking ass and taking names. The one time I had a post go viral (for little ole me, anyway) was when I wrote about our 10 year wedding anniversary. It spread like crazy on FB and I thought WordPress stats was malfunctioning. 🙂

    I’ve been blogging (and in marketing) for a few years now. You just never know when something’s going to take off, but your tips are solid.

  19. Ahdad says:

    Congrats…I’ve just made the views of this post to be +1. It’s my pleasure.

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