In the recent Digg article “Anatomy Of A Fake, Viral Story“, we see a perfect example of a hard-to-believe story going viral and driving massive traffic to websites around the world. Few stories that hit this legendary status are broken down in such a way that you can see exactly how it happened, which is what makes this story fascinating to myself and marketers everywhere.
Most people want their piece to go viral for one or both of two reasons – money and/or fame. Will fake viral stories accomplish this? Is such a story worth the traffic it generates? Let’s explore that.
Money – Is viral traffic interested enough in your fake story to contribute to your bottom line? The majority of viral story seekers are looking for quick entertainment. They are rarely interested in little else the hosting website has to offer them. Sure, they might sign up for updates, but a look at the statistics of whether they actually open and read the emails sent to them reveals the truth; often the emails are deleted and after the third or fourth email, they hit the “unsubscribe” button, or worse, flag it as spam and get your company in trouble with your internet service provider.
Fame – No one likes being lied to and a fake viral story’s job is to look credible to the reader long enough to get them to click. How would someone view your website if they found out that you were peddling fake sensationalism? Would they trust you in the future? Would they trust your products, your customer service or warranties on anything they purchased if you are a retail business? Would they trust your word on anything in the future? Doubtful. We all have experienced how hard it can be to convince someone to buy from us and not our competitors. Starting off with a lie to draw them in is the worst possible strategy imaginable, unless, of course, you are the National Enquirer or Onion.
In the final analysis, it is pretty cut and dried that fake viral stories are responsible for traffic that hits hard and fast, but rarely sticks around. They are off as soon as the next sensational piece hits their radar and won’t even remember you the next day. Hardly the type of loyal customer that anyone in business could benefit from.
Credits: Anatomy of a Fake Viral Story written by Craig Silverman. Read his research project report, “Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content” for the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.
Civic Site Design deals only in reliable information from verified sources. If you have a need for such on your website or in your social networking circles, please feel free to contact us at info at civicsitedesign.com (replace the “at” with an @ sign).