Tuesday, January 10, 2012

a 'viral' masterclass from the bbc #bowie

Contrary to misinformation peddled by many self annointed social media experts there is no 'formula' for viral video success, however there are some recipes that will give a piece of compelling content the very best chance of being spread.

The previously long-lost clip below of Bowie and the Spiders doing 'Jean Genie' on Top of The Pops from 1973 being case in point.

In simple terms the clip contains the main elements the originator needed to ensure at least some spreadability.

1 - It's a piece of content that groups of people with a shared interest want to see, but have not previously had the opportunity to do so.

2 - The provider of the piece of content was, initially, the single source of the content.

3 - The back story to the piece of content was interesting enough to be part of the idea.

So it goes that retired 69 year old ex-BBC cameraman John Henshall had retained a copy of the footage he shot using his own designed Telefex Fisheye lens, while the BBC had wiped the original tapes from 1973 (as was their unfortunate habit back in the day - many hundreds of hours of BBC archive stuff is gone forever).

Henshall found the tapes in a proverbial shoebox in the attic and presented the lost gem to the BBC at the tail end of last year. It was broadcast on Wednesday December 22nd on BBC2, this being the first time it was available to view since the original Top Of The Pops show in 73.

The lessons are clear.

1. Identify the groups of people who are most likely to want to hear/see/spread the idea.

2. Figure out if this is the kind of information these groups are gagging for.

3. Find out what the groups already have and whether the new information plugs a gap that needs filling.

4. If you can answer all of the above get it out there and watch the groups do the heavy lifting.

Notice the use of 'groups' plural. A point to note is that there is not one-single instance of the clip on YouTube, there are several.

The clip was ripped and posted online by many different Bowie fans, each initially serving a small group of other connected fans in the first instance. The clip was then shared from small group to small group via various blogs and Facebook updates and tweets.

Understanding the structure, connectedness and actual needs of the networks in which you want to plant ideas is much more important than looking for individual so-called influencers to repeat a story.

Anway here's Bowie, Mick and the Spiders walking on snow white, in full fisheye glory.

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