“Organic”? Sure. But Not “Viral”

December 28th, 2008

I was reading this article in the New York Times the other day about Time magazine’s Man of the Year cover. They were talking about the artwork, not the choice, and wrote:

“Mr. Fairey said that his original depiction of Mr. Obama, based on a photograph of the candidate and produced with the blessing, but not the financial backing, of the campaign, was a ‘grassroots’ image that spread virally.”

That spread virally?

No.

That spread organically? Yep.

I fear the battle for the soul of the word “viral” is already long lost, but I’ll say it yet again: “Viral” may be the most misused buzzword in business today. For clarification, click here to see: (a) a horrid example of the word’s misuse by a big-ticket agency, and (b) a link to an article that will explain exactly what the word means. Or should mean.

Takeaway for marketers: Don’t say “viral” when you mean “organic.” Or something else.

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