Great Facebook Idea: Going Viral with Humor

Love. Music. Poetry. Math. Esperanto. All have been called the universal language, and all have been ultimately found wanting. But humor? Humor transcends all. I mean, just watch Milos celebrate his tennis victory over Jerry. ("Another game for Milooooooooosssssssss!!!!!" is easily one of the most brilliant lines of the last millennium - take a hike, "To Be or Not to Be.") Tell me which corner of the globe doesn't laugh at that. I dare you.

Friends. Tweeters. Instagramers... lend your eyes to this pitch-perfect, laugh-out-loud (like, LOL for realz!) post from St. Joseph's College.

Billy Goat. Black Cat. Bartman. Saint Joseph's College Water Tower? Yep! 

Billy Goat. Black Cat. Bartman. Saint Joseph's College Water Tower? Yep! 

This is probably the best example of a historical/throwback photo I've ever seen. Whoever wrote that joke deserves a firm handshake and a pay raise. That's comedy GOLD, my friends.

Yes, there's a learning curve to it. If you don't know baseball and you don't know the Chicago Cubs' sad history of losing, this won't resonate. (Spasmodic with laughter, I showed it to my girlfriend who, flummoxed, gave me the blankest of stares.)

But you know what? I don't care. Sometimes a certain amount of exclusivity to a joke is beneficial - no one likes to be left out of a joke, and there's a good chance a few people out there Googled the Cubs and winning just to try and figure it out. Because this is funny, a truly good joke that is also sort of unabashedly and delightfully cruel to the poor Cubs fans out there. (St. Joseph's College is in Indiana, so I'm sure there's more than a fair share of Cubbie lovers among their followers.)

Oh, and before you turn your nose up at only 24 shares, keep in mind that St. Joseph's page has only 2,200+ followers. Getting more than 1% of your people to share a post is GREAT. Scaling up, that's about 150 shares for a page that has more than 13,000 followers (like mine for UP), and more than 1,000 shares for a page with 100,000 followers. So, not too shabby at all.

In the past, I've written about Scott Stratten's "third circle" theory. In a nutshell: First Circle = Your Followers. Second Circle = Your Followers' Followers. Third Circle = Your Followers' Followers' Followers.

If you produce some really good content, there's a good chance your followers will share it with their followers, via RTs, shares, re-tumbls, etc. That's all well and good, but ultimately it doesn't get you very far. The trick is creating content that is so good, so fabulously good people in your second circle - your followers' followers - will also share it with their followers. That is how content truly goes viral. When something is so good that people who have absolutely no affiliation with your brand are sharing it, you know you've hit on something good.

And St. Joseph's did indeed hit on something good, using the #1 way to get people to share things: humor. (Just ask George Takei.)

Silly and temporal as it may have been (a funny Friday afternoon post), this joke from St. Joseph's college has third-circle potential. Self-loathing Cubs fans will share it. People who are friends with Cubs fans and love to tease them (like me!) will share it. Cardinals fans will share it. White Sox fans will share it. Seen by the right person, it could end up on a site like Deadspin or Bleacher Report.

Yes, I realize I'm exaggerating, but this is the type of content that has the potential to reach the third circle, and it's the type of content we should all be seeking to create, rather than tired old fill-in-the-blank and "Click like if..." posts that get engagement but have ZERO potential to reach beyond your immediate followers. My motto for the week: Dream big, take risks, and be funny!

A tip of the cap to you, St. Joseph's. Well done. Oh, and GO TWINS! 

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