Remember Susan Boyle? When she walked out on the stage of Britain’s Got Talent in April of 2009, the audience assumed she was doomed. Maybe it was her appearance, her demeanor, her awkward sense of humor. When she said she would perform “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables, even judge Simon Cowell was skeptical, if not a little cynical.
But when she began to sing, the audience at Glasgow’s Clyde Auditorium was astounded. And it wasn’t only them: over 10 million people watched the stunning and surprising performance on television. Word spread quickly.
But the real recognition came not from British living rooms but through the Internet. In the six days following, a video of her performance reached 70 million views. How did this happen? Social media.
Facebook, for example, is one of the leading ways for anything — articles, videos, GIF’s, anything — to go viral. Someone posts, someone watches and reposts, and on and on until 70 million people have been reached.
So what’s the message here for marketing companies?
Look at college recruiting, for example. As Brian Wm. Niles suggests in his book Overthrowing Dead Culture: A Vision to Change the World of College Recruiting, the Internet has fundamentally changed the way that college recruiting is done. In the past, Niles, says, colleges “called the shots;” they dictated the way communication happened, directed the handling of applications, and determined the delivery of marketing campaigns.
“But the Internet changed all that,” Niles claims. “As websites proliferated and technology went mobile in the form of cell phones and laptops with WiFi access, gradually it was the students who started setting the terms … if colleges really want to understand high school students, they should spend less time developing slick brochures and view books and spend more time on Facebook, or Google, and on their own websites. Conversations take place on Facebook. Google is the new student search.”
Just look at Amira Willighagen, the 9-year-old who triumphed on Holland’s Got Talent by singing incredible renditions of opera songs. How does she celebrate her success? Partly, with her own YouTube channel, where it’s not unusual for her videos to get millions of views each. If Amira is any indication, the opportunities from going viral are nearly limitless.
By Sean Hill, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed