Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Facebook and George Takei Show You How Photos Go Viral

Viral content holds the Internet together — that much is clear. But exactly how that content spreads isn’t so cut and dry.

Facebook teamed up with design firm Stamen and actor-turned-social-media-star George Takei to see, share by share, just how photos go viral.

Here’s how it worked: Takei shared a few photos on his Facebook page. Stamen took the shared data from his photos and converted it into a series of interactive graphics, which Facebook published this morning.

The graphics are two colors, one for each gender. Each streak, then, represents someone re-sharing an image. As each generation of shares ages, it fades to white to show the passage of time. Watch the video above to see it for yourself.

You can see each of the shared graphics in their entirety at

What other types of data would you like to see visualized like this? Let us know in the comments.

Here's a video from George Takei which has over 880K views since march doing his happy dance :)
Great entertainment value and very memorable which what makes his videos and posts go viral

For nearly 50 years, George Takei has been famous for his portrayal of Hikaru Sulu on the original ’60s television show Star Trek. Takei appeared as Sulu for three seasons and six subsequent movies.

After Star Trek, Takei continued to act and perform voice-overs. Yet, like many members of the cast, his identity remained synonymous with Star Trek. It wasn’t until Takei started his Facebook page on March 23, 2011 that his fame took on a whole new dimension.

Takei posts funny photos, memes and other positive content to Facebook multiple times a day, and these posts see massive engagement.  Many of his posts are submitted by readers. With 1,624,780 likes on Facebook and 348,019 Twitter followers, Takei has reinvented himself as social media celebrity. (For the record, his Star Trek co-star William Shatner has roughly 145,000 Facebook likes.) While Takei has amassed a sizable following on social media, his rate of engagement might be his most impressive digital achievement.

It’s not uncommon for one of Takei’s posts to receive up to 50,000 likes and 30,000 shares. There are very few celebrities who regularly see engagement numbers as high as Takei’s. Even Rihanna, the most liked person on Facebook, doesn’t hold a clear advantage over Takei when it comes to engagement.

Rihanna boasts 54 million Facebook likes — roughly 53 million more than Takei — yet her posts attract similar engagement numbers. Takei’s Facebook fans are an extremely responsive group.

Rihanna recently posted a clip from her new movie Battleship, which received roughly 20,000 likes and 1,800 shares. By comparison, a recent video from Takei doing a “Happy Dance” received 30,000 likes and 10,000 shares.

How Did George Takei Become a Social Media Superstar?

The simple answer is: Takei knows his audience very well.  While he has expanded his following through strong involvement in the gay rights movement (his It’s Ok to be Takei initiative, for instance) and Asian American groups (he is on the board of the Japanese American National Museum), his core fan-base consists of Star Trek fans who appreciate Takei for his self-aware humor.  Takei gives his audience exactly what they want, which regularly includes Star Trek jokes and other references from geek culture.

It has been established that positive posts are far more popular on Facebook than negative ones.  Takei seems to understand this. He puts a cheerful spin on his Facebook posts and tweets — and his audience is clearly responding.

Take a look at some of the best posts from George Takei.

Bad Touch
"From a fan. Oh, myyy!"

Bob Ross and 300
"And a happy Spartan here, another one here..."

Cee Lo
"Cee Lo, Sweet Chariot..."

Duck Dog Mask
"This has been dogging me."

Geek Life
"It gets better.

Image courtesy of Joy of Tech.

Imperial Walker
"Redefines Imperial Walker."

Jersey Peeps
"Where Peeps go after Easter."

Kid Toilet
"As they say, 'Fail."'

Kitty Nip
"From a fan. Addiction comes in all forms."

"They fire chipped ham torpedoes and have Klondike shields."

"From a fan. Like and share when you get it. (I needed it explained to me...)"

Tupac Hologram
"Kanye handle this?

(Someone asked if I'd see the Tupac hologram. I thought he was talking about the Vulcan security officer on Voyager...)"

Watch Your Sodium
"Watch your sodium."

You Shall Not Pass
"Drive, you fools!

(This phrase is correct, if you know the books.)"

"From a fan. Lemme give you a pizza advice."
Image courtesy of Flickr, Gage Skidmore.

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