“Spreadable Media” connected the dots for me: My take aways

Image credit: thetecnica

This was a great read for me. Prior to reading the book, my expectations were that it would provide a context for what makes content “go viral.”

As discussed in the book, a spreadable media landscape is one that listens to, cares about and ultimately aims to speak to the needs and wants of their audiences as crucially as they do with business goals. In my current work, this was something that we had missed the ball on. We were present on social media, but had no idea or strategy for managing content. The primary use was to serve OUR needs and to communicate OUR message. I would argue that this is probably the norms for lots of non-profit and community organizations. Although we have revamped our social media strategy a few times, this one statement provoked ideas on how to further ensure we are creating and sharing content that meets the needs and wants of our audience first.

Spreadability, in my opinion, is still very subjective in terms of content value. For example, Kim Kardashian West had a campaign to #breaktheinternet a few months ago that spread like wildfire across social media, blogs, talk shows and all other media outlets. Obviously, PaperMag received a huge return on the spreadability of these images. However, it is highly unlikely that the spreadability was high because it created value for those who shared.

One of the viral images from the PaperMag spread

Another take away is that good content doesn’t automatically make it good for sharing. This is something that is very relevant to health communications. There is very important information, that we (health communicators) believe that needs to be disseminated and circulated, but we don’t do the best at putting it in a spreadable format. In fact, one of the most successful (accidental) campaigns was the ALS Ice bucket challenge.

Bill Gates completing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The challenge raised a lot of money for a disease that the mass population knew nothing about. Everyday people to very wealthy celebrities participated in this viral campaign, motivated by different things about the campaign. This also proves the point that you can not always predict nor guarantee that content will go viral.

In conclusion, this book has certainly connected the dots for me. My role is increasing in content development and management and I found this relevant to many other aspects of my roles as well. At the end of the day, the most elaborate campaign can be designed and if the intended audience does not value the content, not motivated to share, it will be a fail.

Successful creators understand the strategic technical aspects they need to master in order to create content more likely to spread, and they think about what motivates participants to share information and to build relationships with the communities shaping its circulation (Jenkins et. al, 2013; p. 196).


Jenkins, H., Green, J., & Ford, S. (2013). Spreadable Media : Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. New York: New York University Press.