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Going viral is not the only way to go

It’s nearly taken for granted that media should strive to create viral content. Nearly.

Certainly it couldn’t hurt your media reputation to produce content that hurtles across the Internet, connecting with millions of eyeballs, could it?

As Thom Fladung, editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press said in my last post, “The Internet, as is the case with so many other examples, takes that back-fence conversation and amplifies it by a thousand. Or 100,000.”

But a recent USA Today article does put this entire conversation in a bit of perspective. In an article headlined “Many adults say they’re not sold on social networks” reporter Jon Swartz writes about the other side of this viral coin.

“Social-networking services such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter may be generating lots of buzz. But old-fashioned, non-digital, face-to-face conversations aren’t out of vogue just yet,” he writes.
“About 87% of 1,000 adults questioned in June said they prefer to deal with other people in person instead of via computers or smartphones, according to a survey from Brightkite, a mobile social-networking service, and GfK Technology, a market research agency.”

Here’s the real kick in the social media gut: “What’s more, half of the respondents said that they do not use social networks.”

Generational jokes aside, the fact remains a significant portion of our population communicates offline.

Perhaps the key point is one Fladung also observed during our recent conversation. When analyzing the attributes of viral content, he said, “Viral content, in the end, is stuff you feel moved to share and tell others about.”

And isn’t that what all storytelling, all communication, is? Perhaps media will discover how to create more viral content and convey it in 140-character bits, bytes, social networks AND newsprint.

I know I’ll get grief for continuing my hopes for newsprint, but please allow me to keep the printed page a while longer.

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