What does going viral mean?

This is one segment of a series of posts about storytelling. These posts will focus on the use of storytelling as an effective means of communication, education, and marketing. Storytelling is a wonderful way to share complex ideas in a memorable manner. Here we look at how some stories go viral.

Viruses are infectious particles that invade cells to replicate. Once inside a host cell, a virus makes new copies of it genome and packages the genome into new viruses, which are released into the environment. These new viruses proceed to infect other cells and the replication cycle is repeated to generate more viruses. This replication process allows viruses to rapidly expand and be transmitted to a huge number of cells throughout the host body.

A comparison to viruses can be applied to how information sometimes spreads, where people are the cells and stories are the viruses. People share certain intriguing or entertaining videos and stories with many other individuals, which results in the wide spread dissemination of these tales and images. The term “going viral” describes the extensive spread of these videos and narratives. The rise of social media has allowed many things to go viral and for people all over the world to become aware of a story.  Many people, including scientists, want their research stories and data to go viral.

How does something go viral? There isn’t a guaranteed method to get information to go viral; however, marketing teams have studied the characteristics of viral images and narratives and determined that wide spread items generally reach people on multiple levels. Viral information often elicits powerful emotional responses, and positive messages tend to spread more. People also tend to share items that are meaningful or helpful. Lastly, viral pictures and stories tend to be credible and logical. Thus, people want to share things that are real, exciting, and useful.

Scientists are finding new and exciting discoveries every day that can change the world in a positive way. Their research has the potential to go viral if shared in a way that captivates an audience. Videos are particularly valuable way to share information because videos engage multiple senses to connect with the viewers and can tell a powerful narrative quickly and potently. Beautiful video narratives can show scientific peers, lay people, and investors complex ideas and data in a memorable way. Motionbirth is helping scientists to create video stories to share with a diverse audience. In these videos, science comes alive and viewers can engage with the researcher’s story, learn about the science, and understand the potential impact that it could have on the world. What scientist doesn’t want their research to go viral?

2017-07-20T23:59:13+00:00 June 13th, 2015|Scientific Storytelling|