Over the past few years, social media has become one of the most popular and powerful forms of network communication. The amount of power varies depending on the specific platform. In my opinion, Twitter is one of the most powerful social media platforms for millennials. Twitter is extremely spreadable, meaning that it allows people to publish photos, posts, or any media content that essentially could go “viral”.
Virality is the concept of specific content posted on social media spreading quickly when many different people like, comment, and/or share it on their own or other user’s networks.
Most of the time when content goes viral, the user who posted it will receive a lot of attention, which can be good or bad. Depending on what the post is, it can either be perceived as positive or negative, whether it is intentional or not. With so many opinionated people who speak their mind on social media, the reaction will either go one way or another.
An example of users who went viral in a positive way is the “Damn Daniel” video. Last February, two teenage boys from Riverside, California, Daniel Lara and Josh Holz, unintentially went from being nobody’s to somebody’s in the matter of days. Holz uploaded a series of videos on Snapchat of Lara joking around while wearing white vans. At the end, he combined all of the videos into one and uploaded it to Twitter. Holz narrated the video. He kept repeating “Daaaamn Daniel” and his closing line is “back at it again with the white Vans”.
When the video uploaded and went viral, everyone was talking about white Vans. When the Vans company became aware, they rewarded the teens with a lifetime supply of Vans. However, rather than keeping their reward, Lara and Holz selflessly donated the shoes to the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.
Daniel told the Los Angeles Daily News,“We thought it was important to do some charity work and give back to the local community,” said Daniel. “We’re enjoying it. We’re enjoying being here. This is a great experience.” This is one of the many examples of a viral post receiving a positive reaction.
However, sometimes when content goes viral, is not necessarily a good thing. For example, the DiGiorno Pizza’s #WhyIStayed tweet went viral a few years back. In 2014, after news broke out about Ray Rice’s domestic abuse scandal, people started a #WhyIStayed for victims of domestic abuse to speak out about why they stayed in their abusive relationships.
DiGiorno Pizza made a joke out of the hashtag because they did not know what it meant before tweeting it. They immediately received thousands of responses from angry and offended people calling the company insensitive.
Unfortunately, this misunderstanding was not taken lightly because domestic abuse is a heavy and touchy subject. DiGiorno Pizza had no intention of making fun of the hashtag. As soon as the responses came in, the Pizza company apologized for the mistake.
Despite it being an accident, this incident made DiGiorno Pizza look unprofessional. Once something is posted online, it cannot be unseen. This is a perfect example of how negative virality works. A company tweets something ignorant and receives hate, backlash, and probably a loss of customers.
The power of social media can be incredible or horrible depending on how it plays with the emotions of the audience.