Sunday, October 08, 2006

Going Viral


The other day something happened to my blog that I had always hoped would happen, but never thought it would happen to me. My blog started getting linked by blogs I had never heard of. My blog had gone viral.

About two weeks ago, I was writing a post about Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It was a snarky sarcastic summary of the first episode. In a desperate attempt to pad the post a little bit, I threw in a drinking game based on the well-known Sorkin clich├ęs and a few things I saw in the episode. I had never written a drinking game before but knew the format well. You pick repeated phrases and situations and make fun of them. The archetype of this goes back to the old Bob Newhart show where you had to drink everytime someone said “Hi, Bob.”

I figured there was some group out there that authorized and vetted the various drinking games on the internet, but there isn’t. After I posted the drinking game, I did a Google™ search for “Studio 60 Drinking Game” to see how my effort compared to the prior art. The only serious match I got was a thread on the Television Without Pity forum board for Studio 60 where they were running a drinking game thread with about 40 comments. Most of them had been posted before the show aired and were based on Sorkin’s other series. In a mild breach of message board etiquette, I made an on-topic comment and included a link to my drinking game. That brought in about a dozen rubberneckers over to my site, which is typical for when I pull that kind of stunt.

The giant entertainment blog Defamer noted that NBC had put up a parody site called Defaker that pretended the pilot of Studio 60 was real and summarized the first episode as if it were written by a gossip blog complete with screen captures as paparazzi photos. To make it look and feel real, the blog had an unmoderated comment section. At first the commenters (some of which had to be shills or sock puppets) were playing along with the conceit that it was a “real” blog about a “real” show. Then the hoi polloi arrived and things got ugly. People were trashing the show and even more, the fake blog. I did my comment and run plug and that brought in another couple of dozen hits. I felt pretty smug about my guerilla marketing since the whole fake blog was pulled just a few days later and any future blog whoring opportunities there were now lost.

A few days later, I noticed that I was getting a lot of hits from two entertainment blogs, namely InsideSoCal.com and TVTattler.com. These sites had linked to my drinking game and were bringing hundreds of readers. Then later that same day, Defamer itself gave a link and traffic shot through the roof. The next day a blog called PopCandy run by USA Today also linked to the game. Instead of the typical 100-200 visitors I get, I spiked at over 3000 visitors. Once the word got out, about another half-dozen blogs linked to my game. The most flattering to me was from Zentertainment written by Sean Jordan which I used to read nearly ten years ago when it was an e-mail subscription list.

Since then, my traffic stats have been doing their inevitable exponential decay back towards my core group of readers. I’ve always fantasized wondered what it would be like to be linked to by Boing Boing or Digg or Wonkette. Now I know. It’s not as big a thrill as I expected. Viral phenomena on the internet do resemble their biological metaphorical cousins. In my case, it caused a brief fever and a quick return to my normal state. A “stickier” meme would eventually spread to dozens of site and cause a permanent build in traffic like Where The Hell Is Matt?

I’m happy with my fifteen minutes of rather minor internet fame, but it’s not going to change my life or my writing style. I write about what I want and it’s up to the blogosphere to decide whether or not to pay attention.

Still, I am now the “I Feel Lucky” hit for “Studio 60 Drinking Game” and I expect to get a small spike in traffic every Monday night when bored viewers go websurfing for drinking games. I’ll be playing along at home too.

10 comments:

Josh said...

Having been through quite a few of these myself (they are in essence the reasons I have the traffic I do today, since I've never done any kind of self-promotion other than a single request to be included on an email humor list when I first launched my site), I will say that in most cases the post-spike traffic is a few percentage points higher than the pre-spike traffic. That's the real point of interest -- not the spike itself, but the long-term, much less dramatic, but much more durable boost.

jf

Mooselet said...

Blogger is not playing nice today... I'm getting cranky with them as well as being jealous of you, yello, and your increased traffic. The most hits I've ever had in one day was 70 (last Monday), which does not compare to 3000! It's a good thing I like you or I'd be making a voodoo doll to stick pins into.

yellojkt said...

As the first spike on my graph shows, Comics Curmudgeon is no small traffic generator itself. I appreciate Josh being a reader as well as mooselet and all my other faithful readers. The other people are truly fly by night, never to be seen again.

mooselet,
70 visits is not insignificant. It means you probably have more people visiting you than vice versa. It helps that you are so entertaining.

trusty getto said...

OMG! You're famous!

Can I have your autograph? ;-)

Liz said...

Congrats Yellojkt, 3000 hits! WOW!!

Harmonica Man said...

The one time I have a anecdote for Blatant Comment Whoring(tm) such as "Have you ever experienced a large spike in traffic because of a outside link?" and you don't come through - but I'll submit mine anyway.

Last month I wrote this story about the hand signals motorcycle riders give each other, and for some reason this site picked it up and referenced it. For an entire week after that I was getting about 200 extra hits a day! I don't know who the hell V-Twin Mama is but she sure has one huge readership, that's for sure. I still receive about 10 hits a day off a a reference that's over a month old.

yellojkt said...

trusty,

The only value my signature has is at the bottom of a check. My "fame" and four bucks will buy me a highly caffeinated milkshake at Starbucks.

h-man,

Always feel to comment. I'd be curious about how V-Twin Mama found your site. You may have more lurkers than you realize.

Greg said...

I experienced something like that on a far smaller scale a while back, and you're right - it's not that thrilling. I'm not funny nor controversial enough to hold a big audience, so I just plug along. Congratulations for the big spike, though, and for all the fame, which I'm sure has gone straight to your head.

Walt said...

Yeah, I got here via that PopCandy link.

You got added to my list, and now I read here occasionally. Hurray for you!

Isn't validation grand?

I didn't get quite the rush, but I not-on-purpose trashed the Superman Returns movie, and that got linked off of several places including a thread on IMDB.com So weird... it's been months, and I still get traffic to that blog post.

Sean Jordan said...

Thanks for the kind words :) It's funny how small a world it can be...