The Anatomy of a Viral Post (Part II): 36 Hours of Madness

Today’s blog post is Part Two of my account of going viral with my dumb-ass little Thermomix article.

If you missed Part One, GO BACK!! It’s here!

A short summary to recap: The viral post I uploaded to Hugzilla blog on the morning of Tuesday August 12 has racked up 4000+ Facebook shares in a 24-hour period. This post resumes my account from the morning of Wednesday August 13, after the initial flurry of viral activity has subsided.

THE ANATOMY OF A VIRAL POST: PART TWO

I get up in the morning, log onto my computer with stomach-roiling trepidation and breathe a sigh of relief. My share stats and page views for the Thermomix post have tapered off and plateaued overnight. The comments are all nice. I start to feel OK about things again and the adrenalin that fuelled me yesterday has dissipated.

Until I check my email.

The subject line says “Thermomix post” and the first line of the email identifies the sender as the deputy editor at Mamamia.

The team at Mamamia love the post and request permission to republish it on their site.

My legs buckle underneath me. I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me. I actually gasp.

I drag myself out of this momentary paralysis of bewilderment and exhilaration and jump straight into my online mother’s group, my go-to girls for all of life’s stun grenades. I am literally shaking. I don’t know what to do. This is the last thing I expect and I’m totally stunned. I find it very hard to type, but I manage to get a short post written. It isn’t even a question. It’s a slack-jawed statement of shock.

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 9.42.12 pm

Several of us debate the pros and cons for a frantic couple of minutes, many urging me to do it. One person gives me the hearty thumbs up with a dubious nod to Kim Kardashian’s sex tape as her supporting argument and I decide to agree because 2014 for me is “The Year of Yes”, a strategy that has reaped great dividends so far.

I reply back with my permission. 20 minutes later my article is up on their site with a short bio, a profile picture and links to all my blogs and social media.

As soon as I receive the link, I send my husband an email at work with the sarcastic subject line “Is this viral enough for you?” and a link to the Mamamia article. It is one of the single most satisfying things I have ever done. I post it to my Facebook page not long after that and my friends and family explode with enthusiasm and cheer. I would never dream of saying it to their faces, but I love them all in that moment with a fierceness I never knew I possessed. They are awesome through all of this.

I am still shaking when I call my parents to tell them the news. They have no idea what Mamamia is. No idea what it means to “go viral” on the internet. “Is that a big deal, is it?” My mum actually says “Well, at least this one is quite clever, unlike the usual crap you write with all the swear words in it”. I can’t see it, but I’m pretty sure I make this face.

gwyneth

This little post now consumes almost every waking moment. I’m getting messages, phone calls, texts, FB comments and emails. I’m getting tagged in all kinds of Thermomix-related crap. I’m stuck to the laptop, obsessed with checking share stats, watching them explode. It’s mesmerising. It’s hard to believe any of this is actually real.

I take multiple screen shots of everything. Just to prove it actually happened.

Less than ten minutes after the post goes up on Mamamia someone comments with derision, criticising me for using the term “Thermie Tourettes” in my article. As soon as I see it I feel sick again. She is right. She is so right. 4000 people have already seen this post with that phrase in it. I feel sick. I feel like shit. I think about how angry and distressed I would feel if I saw someone casually mocking my son’s microtia and atresia or using his deafness as a comic pun.

I email my contact at Mamamia to have it changed to “Thermie Verbal Diarrhoea” and mercifully, it happens immediately. I jump onto the original post at Hugzilla, make the appropriate corrections and add a self-lacerating apology to the top of the post. I still admonish myself for ever allowing that phrase to get past my internal editor.

I am grateful to the person who points it out and I feel even more humble later on when she graciously accepts my correction and subsequent apology, when I really should be kicked, and kicked hard.

A friend warns me that the commenters at Mamamia can be a little, ahem, “spirited”, so I brace myself for the inevitable onslaught of internet hate after my earlier experiences with the Thermomix crowd, but bizarrely, they turn on each other instead. The Thermie-lovers and the Thermie-skeptics and the Thermie-haters and the garden-variety trolls who turn up anywhere they get the faintest whiff of some internet biffo.

Unwittingly, I’ve kick-started The Thermie Wars. Hordes of men and women are doing battle over a bloody kitchen appliance. Debate rages in the comments; insults and accusations are thrown about willy-nilly like decapitated heads at the Red Wedding, and there I am standing quietly in the middle, wishing I could pass around a platter of store-bought friendship muffins.

I know it is all getting too intense when my two year old grabs me by the arm and literally drags me outside to play. Away from my computer, and away from all this viral madness I sit playing in the dirt with my son, and in the midst of a companionable silence I realise that it is the anniversary of my best friend’s death. Before all of this exploded I had planned a quiet day of reflection at home, with the intent to write a post about her.

So, in one of the more bizarre twists of the day, I’m sitting in a pile of dirt in my front yard, crying. All the emotion of the last 24 hours spilling out of me, all of the sadness around my failure to commemorate her in the way I had planned to. And the guilt I feel knowing that I am going to be sucked back into the viral vortex as soon as I step inside. RIP my cheeky friend, I bet you are laughing your ass off right now.

The post keeps growing on Mamamia. The numbers become ridiculous. 2000, 6000, 10 000 shares and god only knows how many actual views. I have 30 000 page views on Hugzilla blog alone. The comments and messages keep coming. I’m getting invites to Thermomix parties. I am so sick of this article. Surely everyone has seen this now?

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 11.09.44 pm

My husband comes home with chocolate and champagne and I am completely and utterly emotionally exhausted. He makes the mistake of pondering aloud how weird it is that this could happen to an “amateur” writer like me and I want to punch him. I’ve been paid to write for years, are you fucking kidding me? He also asks if I’ve ever written anything on the blog about him or his job that could get him fired, which I reply to with the withering stare of wordless disbelief it deserves.

He is finally impressed by the magnitude of all this and becomes infected by the obsession with stats. He keeps refreshing the page all night long, telling me how many shares I have. The next day he will count down to 12 000 shares via text message while he is at work. I don’t care any more. I want it to stop. I want it to go away.

I slip into a weird kind of hysterical megalomania and decide to start trolling Thermomix Australia to try and get myself a free Thermomix. I don’t even want one. I just want to see if I can get one. I’ve given these guys a whole heap of FREE ADVERTISING, right? Everyone is talking about their appliances so it must be one of the greatest and most organic triumphs of MARKETING and BRAND AWARENESS ever! People are accusing me of being a Thermomix HACK, a deliberate PLANT to advertise their product! They OWE me one of these things!

I email the PR/marketing team at Thermomix Australia to see if they would like to discuss a follow up post with me, and they wisely decline to reply. The silence is deafening.

I think the champagne must be going to my head because I briefly entertain the idea of tweeting them directly: “20K+ FB shares? What’s a girl got to do to get a free Thermomix around here?” Common sense prevails over my champagne buzz and I don’t do it. Clearly the team at Thermomix Australia think I am a total asshole too.

And then, the final crash. I curl up in the foetal position on the lounge and fall asleep at 7pm.

I am so thoroughly over myself.

The post isn’t even that good.

RECOVERY PERIOD

In the wash-up, having a viral post did remarkably little for my vital stats. Over 22 000 FB shares and countless page views later my Twitter following exploded from 31 to 43 people, I probably came away with an extra 100 Facebook followers and maybe 20 new subscribers to the blog.

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 4.12.35 pm

Hugzilla: 6000+ FB shares

Mamamia: 16 000+ FB shares

On the plus side? I’m finally cool enough for my 13 year old niece to friend me on Facebook.

On the negative side? My friends keep tagging me in every frigging Thermomix thread they come across. I am going to be “That Thermomix Blogger” forever now. I will never live up to this post.

Take home message from this entire experience: My friends like to goad me, my family don’t understand me and people can be a bit touchy about their choice of kitchen appliances.

I also discovered that I really do prefer obscurity.

I don’t know how Kim Kardashian does it.

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62 thoughts on “The Anatomy of a Viral Post (Part II): 36 Hours of Madness

  1. I’m exhausted just reading this *secretly planning a Tupperware onslaught for next Tuesday*. 😉
    Sorry about missing your friend’s anniversary – that would’ve stung. X

  2. I have a confession. I don’t even know who Thermomix is? Is he like Kim K? Is he one of the X-men? hehe. I read the post and I thought it was F-U-N-N-Y!!! I’m joking you know. I don’t know how I’d deal with it if that happened to me. I think I’d smash my laptop or throw it over a cliff it would be so surreal. I’ve only just discovered you and I LOVE your sense of humour and warmth. May long you reign Khaleesi Hugzilla xxx

  3. There are too many favourite funnies here that I can’t list them all but….the facies, your “amateur”ism, “is this viral enough for you”, the hysterical megalomania…what a ride you’ve been on, thanks for taking us along. But I really wish you’d kept the article working title. Totally sums it up for me. Well done Mel. very. bloody. funny.

  4. Your numbers will steadily increase from here I am certain 🙂 I get the sense that thermie is a bit like lululemon. Or Porche. They never go on sale or give freebies. I was instrumental in infecting 9 people with the virus via the same host and not even a free cook book! Steak knife! Anything! If they do send you one, you must promise to relaunch “Thermzilla” xo

    • LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! Sheesh. Not even a free steak knife. These guys run a tight ship. If by any stroke of miracle I managed to acquire one of these things, I’m all primed for Thermzilla: The Sequel.

  5. Thermomix has defs taken on its own identity with you Hugz as its loving mother…and we all know all mamas have ups and downs with our recalcitrant offspring. A feel a novella is in order, and a future biography when fame has slipped and you need some cash. Has Australia post earmarked you for a postcode yet or a suburb? 😉

  6. I love this! It is a cult the old Thermomix – people go bananas over it. I was like you. I was hesitant. Skeptical. And now am a changed woman. If you are into cooking then it is great! If you are not into cooking waste of money. Or you could be like me and make your in laws buy one from France and sneak it in their carry on and you will save $800. Well done on going viral enjoy it. Mum and Dad didn’t know what it meant when Edenland tweeted me and I was so excited I almost peed my pants. They asked me if she writes for the newspaper.

  7. So I blog about hawt dudes and nobody cares – you blog about a kitchen appliance and Shazzam! I am kinda jealous of your uncanny ability to tap into the zeitgeist. ( You’re within your rights to call me a wanker after using the Z word)

  8. I’m not surprised that is when so big, you’re a bloody talented and hilarious writer, here’s hoping it leads to some BIG things…. sometimes fame can be a bitch though. Kinda cute your hubby got excited at one stage there… you stats must be through the ROOF girl! Thanks for linking Thermogirl! xxx

  9. Wow what an experience! I don’t know if I should applaud or hug you. Maybe both? If anything like that happened to me I’d probably implode, so good on you for keeping your shit together. The idea of “garden variety troll” kinda freaks me out; I think like you I prefer obscurity. I’m sorry about you missing your friend and not being all to spend the time you wanted reflecting… but I’m glad your 2yo got you back to reality with a bit of dirt playing. 🙂

    • Thanks Joy, I really could have used many massive hugs during this whole thing, which is very unlike me! It surprised me how much it rattled me in some ways. I tend to think of myself as pretty stoic. Dirt is the great leveller, isn’t it? Kids know how to keep it real 🙂

  10. Oh gosh! How funny! I’m still impressed that you had 407 shares previously. I think my record is four shares! Isn’t it funny what tickles people’s fancy? Probably because there is a great divide between the Thermie haves and have nots.

    • I have to admit, it surprised me! I knew that a lot of my friends were slightly obsessed with these things but it was funny to realise they weren’t the only ones. There is a MASSIVE divide, apparently, between the haves and the bitterly jealous have-nots. LOL.

  11. I had heard there was some Thermomix ‘thing’ going on but had no idea it was you! People really care too much about kitchen crap!
    Though personally (sadistically?) it would have been kinda funny to see people turn on each other in the comments.
    Hope you’re feeling a bit better about it all, and I hope the people who are angry at a joke post get a little bit of a life!
    Personally I’m starting to see the benefits in being a small blogger. And I kind of think I want to keep it that way!

    • Yep, guilty! If there has been one thing I have learnt from this is that there are so many awesome benefits to being a blogger who has a small but respectful and engaged audience who understand where you are coming from and who respond with support and positivity. There is so much to be said for that.

  12. You perfectly describe the experience I have had the couple of times that Tunnel stories have gone viral (and we have had nowhere near your success!)

    I dream of a perfect blog niche that lies somewhere between being hopelessly unread and being descended upon by a horde of web locusts who tell you you’re unfunny/stupid/inappropriate then disappear again.

    Oh, the pain of being ignored and the terror of being read too much.

    And by the look of it, MamaMia has come a’knocking on your door again?

    • Yes. You’ve said it so absolutely perfectly. That right there is the perfect niche. Mamamia also published the Offspring post I wrote, which got me torn a new one over at their FB page. LOL.

  13. Holy freaking hell. What a shitstorm! You obviously tapped into a sore point with people, for the whole cluster to just explode like that. I really liked the post for the record. There’s not enough good satire on the internet, and it’s nice to hear a different view from the Thermie-lovers.
    I am so annoyed for you that this level of shares and discussion didn’t actually convert to greater follower engagement in your social media! WTF man, I would have predicted waaaay more FB followers after that.
    But, as you say, if you prefer obscurity, then perhaps it is for the best 🙂
    PS a post going viral like this for me would be my worst nightmare. So many thousand people reading my words would probably bring on a breakdown of self-doubt and horror!

    • LOL. Self-doubt and horror definitely made up the rich tapestry of emotion I felt when this was going on. I was surprised by the stats too, but I kind of figure I’ll just keep digging away and write it off as a bit of a bonus! And thanks for your very kind words 🙂

  14. I read the title of your post on Em’s linkup and thought “Oh, I know how she feels, it is really hard to get a lot of attention on a post” but then when I realised you meant THAT post, and you meant VIRAL VIRAL I realised I had no idea how you felt! I had Virgin Australia pick up one of my blog posts I mentioned them in and share it on their facebook page. I had over 600 hits – zero shares though – and felt violated! You poor bugga. They didn’t give me anything free either.

    • Yep, it’s funny. I actually LOST money thanks to this post. LOL. I fell behind with some freelance work so I insisted on not invoicing one of my clients because I delivered his copy late. Everyone benefited financially from this post except me. The life of a blogger, hey? Bahahhahhahahahhahhahah!

  15. Wow that was huge! I thought the post was brilliant, because I’m not a thermo groupie.
    This here though is the one reason I would actually hate to go viral. Even if you wrote the nicest thing in the world, you’re going to get attacked by someone.
    But hey, you’ve done what lots of us have failed to do, and that’s awesome xxx

    • Thanks Jess, and I think that is the depressing truth for all of us as writers in the digital age. No matter what we write, there will always be someone prepared to throw stones at us. It is a very sobering thought xx

  16. Someone did a post about their thermomix, maybe My Meow about making a chocolate cake out of beans. The damn thing doesn’t even cook the cake, you still gotta put it in the oven! Now if it cooked that bad boy I might consider it!

    How ironic that a post about a virus went viral. Well done lady, but I totally get the exhaustion (I had a post be slightly popular one day, but only among bloggers, but it was the single most exhausting day of my blogging career, especially the negative comments! I can’t even begin to imagine how it would feel on such an uber scale!).

    • LOL yep, that was My Meow. I enjoyed her post but I’m still not sold. For that amount of money it needs to cook it, serve it up to me with a cup of tea and then clean itself up afterwards! I loved the irony of a virus going viral too. Crazy.

  17. Oh hun, you poor thing. Hope you’re ok! Yes people really do go totally nuts over Thermomix. I don’t understand it!

    And yes, Mamamia commenters are in a league of their own. As a wet behind the ears newbie blogger I naively submitted, and had published, a breast v bottle feeding post. Whew! That was a baptism of fire.

    Just remember that nasty comments are about the commenters, not you!! xx

    • Holy shit woman, you published a breast v bottle post on Mamamia and loved to tell the tale?!?! Respect. LOL you are so right about the comments saying more about the commenters themselves than me, but it’s sooooo hard not to take it personally when someone storms in out of nowhere and calls you a dick. WTF. I guess learning to ignore that kind of thing is an acquired skill.

  18. WOW.
    IN YOUR FACIE, MR HUGZILLA!
    Oh, dear. I missed all the shenanigans since Tuesday, you poor love. A week to remember- for you AND those stingy appliance misers over at Thermomix. Where’s their gratitude? And to think I’ve been following you back on Twitter since you had only about 24…
    Yes, obscurity is nice. When you come back to Earth I’ll see you here! xx

    • LOLOLOLOLOLOL that was my favourite aspect of this whole thing. He keeps trying to give me all these dodgy story ideas now. WTF. Why don’t you just leave it to the “amateur”, honey. I think I preferred it when he was totally disinterested.

  19. Going with Thermie Verbal Diarrhoea and wow!!! Amazing how a kitchen appliance can kick up a cyberstorm! Well done, you! Don’t worry about Thermomix not responding to you. Maybe you should contact a (close to) competitor instead? 🙂 x

  20. Wow!!! Read part 1 and couldn’t resist clicking through to part 2! I read the original thermie post you did a few weeks ago and it gave me a good laugh. I have only been to 1 thermie demo but they definitely suck you in, so far I have been strong and quite frankly my spendings account and almost overdrawn credit card will keep me strong for a very long time! Congratulations on your Mamamia publish! Sorry about your friend’s anniversary not being how you planned it, sounds like she had a sense of humour and would understand. For the record my Mum has tourettes, great that you could admit your oversight and whipped your butt for it publically, your description of doing so made me smile too. We all have those foot in mouth moments, you’re only human! 🙂

    • Thank you, that means a lot to hear you say it. I think it’s a good example of the way that casual bigotry can slip into our use of language in a really insidious way (that includes casual sexism too). It’s similar to the way that people use the word “retarded” as shorthand for some pretty nasty things and it’s great that people are getting pulled up for using that too these days. As they should.

  21. I’m so glad you wrote these two follow-ups. I had no idea it went so crazy after our link up with other Jess. I did share it on my fb page that morning you posted it, I think it was that morning. I though it was hilarious. It’s the post that made me decide you are one of my favourite bloggers. In fact, today I added you to ‘Blogs I Love’ on my website. So there. Lot’s of love to you!

  22. I love that your parents were more impressed with the lack of swear words than your feature on mamamia- ha ha ha!!! PS I don’t think you’re just a flash in the proverbial appliance.

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