Unless you have lived under a rock for the last year you have no doubt heard of the viral Internet sensation known simply as Grumpy Cat. This cat is literally everywhere and may be the most famous feline on the planet right now. Grumpy Cat has also become the perfect example of what can happen in a viral perfect storm. Quite literally, a humble cat named Tardar Sauce born with a permanent frown on her expression exploded into a sensation when someone got the brilliant idea to add sarcastic sayings to her picture. Really, that was all it took? There may have been a little more to it than just that as social media was part of Grumpy’s success.
When I was a kid our cat named Smokey had a litter and out came a mostly black and white little kitten whose fur formed a beard around his mouth. If I had that cat today, I would be trying to make him famous. Maybe I would call him Hypno Cat or Master Illusionist Kitty. The point being, it sure does help to begin with a great product or a cat with an interesting look. However, there is a lot more than just a great product or idea. There is the whole how do I present it. Presentation is huge and it is essential if you want to go viral. Grumpy Cat had those sarcastic expressions that work wonderfully. Imagine if they had made her Sad Cat or Depressed Kitty, I have a feeling those ideas would not have caught on as well.
For Grumpy Cat it had to be that sarcastic grumpy edge as people tend to connect with the cynical. It is not that we are all cynical people, but that negativity in a satirical way makes us laugh at the world which in turn brings us a little happiness. The point is that Grumpy’s humor reaches a part of us that resonates with today’s society. It is this resonance that makes Grumpy Cat very relevant and keeps her popularity holding strong.
Grumpy Cat became viral because of social media. Her first appearance was on Reddit and from there her image exploded across Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and many of the other social media platforms. It goes to show that if you make a great concept that is easy to digest quickly and it resonates with people, it will get shared and perhaps widely. Grumpy Cat is simply a picture with an easy to read saying. It was almost too simple. However, it is very easy to share and that is exactly what has happened. The guy who originally posted the pictures also did something smart, he created more. He kept new pictures coming to satisfy an ever increasing appetite for more Grumpy Cat.
I wrote about the visual Internet back in 2012 and Grumpy Cat is an example of this coming to life. If you want to go viral, image based is the way to go. Also, keep it simple. Remember, the image does not have to be an ad or obvious branding. Instead, make people happy or provide them with some fun. Don’t worry, they will find there way back to you afterwards. The other key point is that you just never know what is going to become the next Grumpy Cat. It doesn’t hurt to just have some fun with it and see what happens.
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