From the minute the world was introduced to “free” music downloads (via the World Wide Web) thanks to Napster, we’ve expected everything else to be given to us without a price; or at least at a reasonably low price. These days when something goes viral over the internet, it’s usually the result of a combination of forces (even though it’s no exact science):
- Epic memes
- Really funny parodies (sketches, songs, etc.)
- Media stories
- Celebrities sharing all the above
The trick to keeping viral content viral is to get out of its way and allow it to takeoff organically. The fastest way to kill viral content is to try and exploit it in a manner that takes it out of the hands of the viewing audience. Remember them? The ones who I mentioned up top would love free content.
We’ve all seen it before; a video goes viral and the next thing you know, the owner of said video wants it removed by anyone who had been posting or sharing it “illegally”. Now we’ve entered into the territory of copyright infringement and a whole host of legal jargon I won’t get into here.
Let’s examine Katy Perry’s performance at the Halftime Show at Super Bowl 2015. Not the best of performances when compared to previous years. But the one thing everyone remembers weren’t her hit pop songs, oh no, what we all remembered well was that “Left Shark”; the one who just couldn’t seem to remember the dance moves. You can refresh your memory here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcLuCyrvc1M [Video]
Left Shark was an instant meme sensation! Not only that, but merchandise was being produced all over with t-shirts and toys popping up everywhere. We all loved it! What happened next was the end of a viral moment.
Katy Perry’s legal team stepped in to cash in on the viral success of Left Shark by introducing fancy legal jargon like “intellectual property” and “trademark infringement”. Well that was the end of that.
Most recently, one of the biggest viral moments of 2016 has to go to Birdman from Cash Money Millionaires after what goes down in history as the shortest radio interview on the hit program, The Breakfast Club. You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. The awkward exchange between Birdman and all “t’ree” of the hosts was so funny that even parodies haven’t come close to making viewers laugh as much. The memes on the other hand are hilarious. Now the rumours are that Birdman wants to cash in.
If the rumours are true, for Birdman’s sake, let’s hope he’ll be smart with his approach in trying to capitalise on his renewed popularity. Allow viral content to stay viral. Do not introduce a legal team to make moves on trademarking anything he said in that radio interview like “Put some respek on it!” or “Are y’all done or are y’all finish?”
Like I said before, people like free over the net. Use that to your advantage. Consider viral content millions of dollars’ worth of free advertising. Cash Money gave the world “Bling! Bling!” and that term has been immortalised into pop culture and has even made it into dictionaries as an actual word. If Cash Money that included Birdman had decided in the mid-1990s to trademark that expression, it would’ve died in that era and would’ve been long forgotten.
Let viral content take on a life of its own. The minute you try to rein it in, is the minute it will all end.