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Going Viral

Viral phenomena or viral sensation are objects or patterns that are able to replicate themselves or convert other objects into copies of themselves when these objects are exposed to them. Analogous to the way in which viruses propagate, the term viral pertains to a video, image, or written content spreading to numerous online users within a short time period.[1] This concept has become a common way to describe how thoughts, information, and trends move into and through a human population.[2]

Going Viral

In Understanding Media (1964), philosopher Marshall McLuhan describes photography in particular, and technology in general, as having a potentially "virulent nature."[7] In Jean Baudrillard's 1981 treatise Simulacra and Simulation, the philosopher describes An American Family, arguably the first "reality" television series, as a marker of a new age in which the medium of television has a "viral, endemic, chronic, alarming presence."[8]

Beyond vocal sharing, the 20th century made huge strides in the World Wide Web and the ability to content share. In 1979, dial-up internet service provided by the company CompuServ was a key player in online communications and how information began spreading beyond the print. Those with access to a computer in the earliest of stages could not comprehend the full effect that public access to the internet could or would create. It is hard to remember the times of newspapers being delivered to households across the country in order to receive their news for the day, and it was when The Columbus Dispatch out of Columbus, Ohio broke barriers when it was first to publish in online format. The success that was predicted by CompuServe and the Associated Press led to some of the largest newspapers to become part of the movement to publish the news via online format. Content sharing in the journalism world brings new advances to viral aspects of how news is spread in a matter of seconds.[11]

The creation of the Internet enabled users to select and share content with each other electronically, providing new, faster, and more decentralized controlled channels for spreading memes. Email forwards are essentially text memes, often including jokes, hoaxes, email scams, written versions of urban legends, political messages, and digital chain letters; if widely forwarded they might be called 'viral emails'.[12] User-friendly consumer photo editing tools like Photoshop and image-editing websites have facilitated the creation of the genre of the image macro, where a popular image is overlaid with different humorous text phrases. These memes are typically created with Impact font. The growth of video-sharing websites like YouTube made viral videos possible.

It is sometimes difficult to predict which images and videos will "go viral"; sometimes the creation of a new Internet celebrity is a sudden surprise. One of the first documented viral videos is "Numa Numa", a webcam video of then-19-year-old Gary Brolsma lip-syncing and dancing to the Romanian pop song "Dragostea Din Tei".[13]

The sharing of text, images, videos, or links to this content have been greatly facilitated by social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Other mimicry memes carried by Internet media include hashtags, language variations like intentional misspellings, and fads like planking. The popularity and widespread distribution of Internet memes have gotten the attention of advertisers, creating the field of viral marketing. A person, group, or company desiring much fast, cheap publicity might create a hashtag, image, or video designed to go viral; many such attempts are unsuccessful, but the few posts that "go viral" generate much publicity.

Viral videos are among the most common type of viral phenomena. A viral video is any clip of animation or film that is spread rapidly through online sharing. Viral videos can receive millions of views as they are shared on social media sites, reposted to blogs, sent in emails and so on. When a video goes viral it has become very popular. Its exposure on the Internet grows exponentially as more and more people discover it and share it with others. An article or an image can also become viral.[14]

The classification is probably assigned more as a result of intensive activity and the rate of growth among users in a relatively short amount of time than of simply how many hits something receives. Most viral videos contain humor and fall into broad categories:

An example of one of the most prolific viral YouTube videos that fall into the promotional viral videos category is Kony 2012. On March 5, 2012, the charity organization Invisible Children Inc. posted a short film about the atrocities committed in Uganda by Joseph Kony and his rebel army. Artists use YouTube as their one of the main branding and communication platform to spread videos and make them viral. For instance, after her time off, Adele released her most-viewed song "Hello". "Hello" crossed 100 million views in just five days, making it the fastest video to reach it in 2015.[20] YouTube viral videos make stars. As an example, Justin Bieber who was discovered since his video on YouTube Chris Brown's song "With You" went viral. Since its launch in 2005, YouTube has become a hub for aspiring singers and musicians. Talent managers look to it to find budding pop stars.[21]

The use of viral marketing is shifting from the concept that the content drives its own attention to the intended attempt to draw the attention. The companies are worried about making their content 'go viral' and how their customers' communication has the potential to circulate it widely. There has been much discussion about morality in doing viral marketing. Iain Short (2010) points out that many applications on Twitter and Facebook generates automated marketing message and update it on the audience's personal timelines without users personally pass it along.[23]

An example of effective viral marketing can be the unprecedented boost in sales of the Popeyes chicken sandwich. After the Twitter account for Chick-fil-A attempted to undercut Popeyes by suggesting that Popeyes' chicken sandwich wasn't the "original chicken sandwich", Popeyes responded with a tweet that would end up going viral. After the response had amassed 85,000 retweets and 300,000 likes, Popeyes chains began to sell many more sandwiches to the point where many locations sold all of their stock of chicken sandwiches. This prompted other chicken chains to tweet about their chicken sandwiches, but none of these efforts became as widespread as it was for Popeyes.[24]

We are all susceptible to the pull of viral ideas. Like mass hysteria. Or a tune that gets into your head that you keep on humming all day until you spread it to someone else. Jokes. Urban legends. Crackpot religions. No matter how smart we get, there is always this deep irrational part that makes us potential hosts for self-replicating information.

Links between viral phenomena that spread on digital networks and the early sociological theories of Gabriel Tarde have been made in digital media theory by Tony D Sampson (2012; 2016).[2][27] In this context, Tarde's social imitation thesis is used to argue against the biological deterministic theories of cultural contagion forwarded in memetics. In its place, Sampson proposes a Tarde-inspired somnambulist media theory of the viral.[28][29]

One thing most studies agree on is that ultimately, a viral idea has to inherently have value; without it, no influencer, broadcaster, or trigger can be of much help. For restaurants, this means the food has to taste good and be well made, in addition to simply looking good on Instagram.

With the right guidance, going viral can be a straightforward task. Yet without the right analytics, staying viral can become a challenge. But in these digital times, data is practically everywhere. Companies in all fields, from the public sector to retail, are culling insights from internet users to make all kinds of business decisions. In the world of viral food, social media marketing agencies like Front of House are no exception.

Eater wanted to know if implementing everything learned about going viral could produce a viral-worthy dish, and if so, how easy (or difficult) the process would be. From the interviews with the chefs, social media experts, and influencers mentioned in this piece, seven qualities stood out:

The next step was to make the egg gluttonous, and the hidden filling was an opportunity to do this. Eater placed a brownie in the bottom half of the egg, while two tablespoons of vanilla frosting or ice cream, mixed with crumbled Oreos and gummy bears, went in the top half. On top of it all, the idea is a bit absurd (an unofficial category for viral food).

The science & history podcast all about PANDEMICS.Series 1: Join the 'disease detectives' Mark Honigsbaum and Hannah Mawdsley as they investigate the most devastating pandemic of all time: the 1918 Spanish influenza. Part scientific detective story, part historical inquiry, 'Going Viral' takes listeners to the scene of the viral crime and in the process recovers the experience of the world's deadliest virus, which is 100 years old.Series 2: The Covid Files: 100 years after the deadly Spanish Flu, Mark and his guests discuss the many faces of the Covid-19 pandemic. What lessons can we learn from history?Series 3: It's the science story of the century - how successful vaccines against Covid-19 have been created in under a year. In 'Vaxx and the Facts', Marks takes a deep dive into the history and science of vaccinations - exploring how they work, where they come from and where they may be going.Series 4: Pandemic Ethics: produced in collaboration with the UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator.Follow our news on Twitter @GoingViral_podFollow us on Instagram - goingviral_thepodcastBlog:

Over the past decade, researchers have begun to characterize viral diversity using metagenomic methods. These studies have shown that viruses, the majority of which infect bacteria, are probably the most genetically diverse components of the biosphere. Here, we briefly review the incipient rise of a phage biology renaissance, which has been catalysed by advances in next-generation sequencing. We explore how work characterizing phage diversity and lifestyles in the human gut is changing our view of ourselves as supra-organisms. Finally, we discuss how a renewed appreciation of phage dynamics may yield new applications for phage therapies designed to manipulate the structure and functions of our gut microbiomes.

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