Viral (adjective): Relating to or involving an image, video, piece of information, etc., that is circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another.
So far in my blog posts and other writing for this class I have often focused on businesses using Twitter to promote their brand, connect and communicate with their clients, and advertise their products and services. But what about Twitter as a business?
A viral tweet, image, or video is more than just a piece of media to the person who posted it – with the ability to monetize viral messages, it may be a way of life. Many smart, young entrepreneurs have latched on to the idea of creating viral tweets for the purpose of making money. Many of the accounts currently producing viral tweets on Twitter are parody accounts – @itswillyferrell, @dory, @tweetlikeagirl, and others – creating rather mundane content shared and retweeted by social media-obsessed teenagers and young adults. Many of these accounts receive upwards of 35,000 retweets for a single post – an impressive reach.
Another way these Twitter and Facebook accounts make money is by promoting products or apps to their followers. Often, these advertisements are incredibly innocuous and do not seem like ads. A poster may exclaim how excited they are about a new app they tried or how they are obsessed with a new game, with a link to buy the app in the app store. If these promotions result in downloads for the app, the poster can get paid up to $1,000 for a single post.
Buzzfeed has written an incredibly interesting article, Meet the Network of Guys Making Thousands of Dollars Tweeting as “Common White Girls,” that further expands on this topic.
It’s interesting to realize that many tweets and Facebook posts we see on a daily basis are created with the intent of making money. It somewhat detracts from the spontaneity, the excitement, and the rush of a viral message – the message did not become viral by accident, but because someone designed it to. It’s not that this is inherently a bad thing, but it is important to see that among all of the deliberate, constructed messages we see each day, seemingly innocuous tweets are now among them.
What do you think about the creation of a parody account for the purpose of monetizing viral tweets?