Friday, August 08, 2008

Call Back Congress? I'll take Paris!

This past week we saw two politically-motivated Internet initiatives. One's calling itself a viral movement -- the other just is. is Rep. Eric Cantor's attempt to start a grassroots revolution to have Speaker Pelosi reconvene Congress so that the Republicans can bring their energy bills to the floor. I've posted about this before. As of today, a little over 30,000 people have signed up since the site was launched a week ago. While the decidedly conservative part of the blogosphere's been talking about this viral campaign, it's garnered almost no interest elsewhere.

On the other hand, there's the video created in response to John McCain's first "Celebrity" campaign ad. Here's the original, for those who came in late.

Interestingly enough, the most effective response didn't come from the Obama camp -- it came from Paris Hilton herself. Here's her reply.

In its first two days, the video was viewed over 6 million times, with no end in sight. It's created enough of a buzz to make it into mainstream media (MSM) reports and commentary.

Now some may say that Hilton's celebrity status account for a large number of views, but if you poke around YouTube, you'll see plenty of Hilton videos (both amateur and professional) that have only a fraction of the views. So it's not just who's in the video.

It's that magic combination of content, plus execution, plus timing. The video parallels the McCain original, and Paris plays her public persona perfectly. But if the video had been released next week, instead of almost immediately, that critical mass would have been missing, and it would not have achieved the success it has.

And while many people toss the term "viral" around, few really seem to understand it. Like a virus, a video, or Internet meme spreads through contact. Each viewer shares it with many more people, each of which shares with multiple people and so on.

In the case of the Cantor petition, most of the 30,000 came in within the first day, and a decreasing number of signers each day after. Hilton's video has been growing exponentially since day one -- and with it making the jump to MSM, it should continue to gain viewers.

30,000 and slowing vs. 6.2 million and growing. One's viral, the other wishes it was.

- Ralph

Day 55 of the WJMA Web Watch.


  1. The Paris video is superb. I told more than a half a dozen people about it.

    While talking about numbers - also important to remember the 100,000 names on the Kucinich impeachment petition.

  2. Can you provide a link for that? I did a little searching, and I can find sites that talk about the petition needing 100,000 names, but I don't see any information about whether they achieved that goal or not.

    If so, then it's over three times the Call Back Congress petition -- or, in my Virginia-centric measuring system, about the population of the city of Roanoke!

    - Ralph