stop saying the word “viral”

seriously, just stop.

it’s not cute, it’s not hip, it’s not clever, it just makes you sound antiquated. this is not the 90’s and there IS no more viral. it’s over. deal with it.

“and then we’ll just use a viral blahblahblahblahblah”

i’m sorry, what did you say?

“yes, i said, ‘and then we’ll just use that thing that’s gonna make all our stock go up.'”


“i said, ‘and then we’ll just use the magic love potion that’ll make people fall in love.'”

wait… what?

“i said, ‘and then we’ll just use that thing that’s gonna do something we have no way of controlling, but i’m gonna say it like we can anyway.”

it sounds like nails dragging across some absurd chalkboard.

all there is is content, expression, and tools. there’s compelling, relevant content, content which says something about me, whether it’s my sense of humor, or my political leanings, or my musical taste, whatever. content that’s gonna express something about who i am to the people i share it with, and that i think they too will appreciate. and there are the tools to facilitate that sharing, (use your imagination…please).

that’s it.

there is no “viral” thing in that equation ANYWHERE. i know it would make your job or worldview or whatever easier if there was, but that’s no excuse. the sun does not revolve around the earth. deal with it.

viral is like the new clothes of the online marketing emperor.

do you even know what you’re saying when you say it?

cuz it doesn’t exist.

it’s actually gotten to the point now where–and i swear, i’m not making this up, but–ANY kind of online content that COULD, potentially, be shared, that is simply share-able is now being referred to as “viral.”

“we’ll just use a viral email,” “a viral widget,” “viral banner”–the entire internet is evidently just a giant contaminated pitri dish of “viral content.” the word is so absurdly misused that it’s completely lost any meaning whatsoever. its utterance isn’t even an incorrect usage anymore, it’s simply just gobbledygook nonsense.

like market forces and falling in love “viral” is a phenomenon. using the word like you think it refers to a type of content (i.e. “viral video”), or a marketing strategy (i.e. “making it go viral”) doesn’t give you cred. to anyone that’s actually willing to confront the inevitable complexity of what’s entailed in designing and encouraging what is essentially just effective word of mouth, saying “viral” just makes you sound out of touch and ridiculous!

so stop saying it.


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4 thoughts on “stop saying the word “viral”

  1. Fortunately, I left all that behind in pursuit of the next marketing plateau.

    I’ve gone bacterial.

    Bacterial marketing is the next wave- it’s bigger, for one, and it can reproduce entirely independently of its host. So while, say, the Star Wars Kid “virus” (to which, sadly, there is still no known vaccine- remember, kids: prevention is the best cure!) required people’s attention to grow into a phenomenon, bacterial marketing (pay attention here, this is huge) doesn’t require people to grow.

    It literally sells itself. To itself. And it can sell itself to itself in almost any environment on earth, including the icy, desolate wasteland of Antarctica.

    And now is the perfect time to get involved with bacterial marketing, before consumers can form an immunity to it, and before the competition can develop “anti-biotic” marketing campaigns.

    With my new bacteriological marketing technique, we can make any product become more than a phenomenon: we can make it an epidemic, uncontainable and affecting millions.

    (ps, this comment started out as a joke but I bet we could totally use this pitch to make a bazillion dollars.)

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