When your story goes viral

On October 11 I published a post about the startup world. This story went viral, like really viral, much more than I was expecting or ready for. This is my story:

Background for writing the original piece

First of all, in contrast to what some people thought (and wrote in comments)- I wasn’t fired. Nor did I post it because I was rejected by some big company in the Valley. Also, it wasn’t like something happened that was the last straw.

Going viral

That’s actually a funny story. That wasn’t the first time that I had published a story on Medium. I’m used to getting a low traffic for my posts (dozens of views, a couple of recommendations). So on the morning of that Tuesday, I published the story without any special hopes.

Ilustration

So how did it happen and why this post?

I don’t know, probably no one really has the formula for what will gain readers’ attention and what will not. I can only guess.

Couple of days after posting: 31K shares

Responses

It seems like the post epitomizes what a lot of people feel about our current work culture. I got so many responses that I had no way yo answer them all. Most of them were from people that felt like me and were emotionally connected to the post, each one touched by another part of the piece. Every comment, even just the “thank you” ones, made me delighted.

Follow-ups

This piece made some noise, and after a couple of days, I started to get some direct emails and messages. Most of them were surely lost in the endless stream of notifications (sorry for that). Some wanted to translate the article (for example to Hebrew, French and even Korean).

The startup world video

Shortly after my post came viral, I got few messages from some independent video producer wanting to do something with this piece. Lucky enough one of them was a brand new cool indie company called SpaceCat.
We took our time; they did an excellent job doing the hard work- taking my words and bring them to a visual medium.
They gathered the most successful well-known startup figures in Israel to collaborate and participate in the piece.
We worked shoulder to shoulder making sure the text works and make sense, taking only the juice for a short clip and deliver the right message.
It ended up with one of the most beautiful, funny and well-crafted things that I could imagine.
Special shout out for Liat Yoffe, Erez Markovich and Mika Josting for the great work that they did here.

Some numbers

  • Most popular story in Medium 5 days in a row
  • 370k views in one day
  • 1M views total (and counting)
  • More than 80k shares on Facebook (that’s actually something that is hard to track, because when I added my story to publication, the URL changed and the shares count on Facebook was reset)
  • Not sure about that- but looks like it’s got to the top 5 Medium recommended stories. (Edit: ok, wow, it was #2 article on Medium in 2016)
  • Lots more followers in Medium and Twitter.

Final words

My online footprint changed drastically. This was a hell of a ride and, to be realistic, probably a once in a lifetime experience.

Doing my best, one bug at a time: https://shem.dev

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