Going Viral

Normally I’m pretty happy with my quiet little “soap blog”, the few regular visitors I have each day plus the spike I see when I write about something timely or controversial or whatever.

I don’t usually do a lot to promote my site more widely – I no longer syndicate to Facebook or tweet every new post or do a lot of SEO or whatever.  I don’t have ads plastering my blog which is one of the reasons I’m not concerned about maximizing who reads my blog.  In fact, I kinda like that it’s a quiet spot – did I once use the analogy that it’s like having an small acreage in the country rather than a house in the city?

But after posting yesterday’s Open Letter to Brad Wall to Facebook and Twitter, I saw the network effects of a post hitting a nerve with people, not just getting a few “Likes” but being actively re-shared and widely broadcast, occasionally by some folks and organizations with some big audiences of their own.

And with over a thousand views and counting in the last 24 hours for my Open Letter to Brad Wall, the worst part is that it is all feels kinda meaningless (or at least as meaningless as my last brush with viral fame when a throw-away joke I posted to /r/firstworldproblems got nearly two thousand people to say they liked my joke!)

That’s the ultimate trick of social media that I wonder about – how can it be used to affect real change?  In cases like Obama’s election success or the student protests in Quebec or the Arab spring, there’s no doubt that social media played a role in making change happen.  But then there are things like Kony 2012 and myriad other social media campaigns that don’t take hold (the federal NDP’s orange wave arguably only worked in Quebec and was as much to do with Jack Layton’s personality as ShitHarperDid.ca)

And unsurprisingly, there is evidence that where you put your message out there affects who you will reach (apparently I should’ve posted my Open Letter as a hard copy for sale on Ebay?)

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