May 12, 2009

Digital Path-O-Gen

Creative Review just posted a great chat with Mr. Lebowitz, of Big Spaceship renown, where the topic is about the “viral category” at the D&AD awards.

When talking about insights as to how people behave and why they pass things along Mr. Lebowitz says “People don’t pass things along because they love brands, they pass things along because they love their friends”.

Just like there are varying schools of philosophy and strains of thought, there is really no right or wrong answer to this particular insight. I am sure with every varying demographic there is a separate rule as to why a particular person may or may not have the need to add to the viral vigor of a particular campaign or item they found on the web.

If we want to have an honest conversation about why people find and then pass things along we need to really examine the motivation behind why they feel the need to share everything they find on the web.

I think that it is really because they ultimately love themselves.

They want to be the one who found this cool video, or upload their face to a dancing elf or to be the one who uploaded their friends picture to the dancing elf.

I don’t know that anyone ever trolls the web for cool things and thinks, “oh I really love my friends so I will send them this”, its more about “I am so freakin' cool for finding this thing, I am going to show everyone!”

There is a sense of claiming an ownership over something you really didn't create just by simply being one of the first to pass it along.

The web is a giant treasure trove, we all look for that unique, rare find that we can claim we found and then spread it to our closest 200-300 followers, oops, I mean friends.

With the emergence of Twitter I think that what was viral before has a much farther reaching but shorter infection period, because people are spreading things at a much faster rate, its no longer about “send to a friend” its now about broadcasting to hundreds and sometimes thousands of people in your personal network. A barrage of links that come at us at a much faster rate and now the viruses must now compete for our attention as to what is the most endearing or funniest or most profound.

I think as technology advances that it becomes more about the mode of transference that will determine what kinds of content has that viral quality.

One very interesting feature that I have found intriguing in Twitterific is NEARBY, where your cellphone determines your positioning and then allows you to “Twit” with those closest to you, not friends, total strangers within your vicinity. The ability to start and contribute to conversations based on proximity. I find the possibilities behind proximity extremely fascinating and it will make the digital virus an even more contagious topic. A new pathogen that gives us an even more precise way to structure and target our campaigns.

Its a great discussion.

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