viral spinning girl

5 March 2008

Use Your Illusion: The Viral Spinning Girl

by Freddy Tran Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Critical Analyst…

Time for a little viral study.

A friend sent me this image that supposedly tests how right-brained or left-brained you are (if she’s not moving, click on her to make her spin).

One neurologist blogger, Dr. Steven Novella, has already disputed that it’s a test of anything, asserting that it’s just a fun illusion. I trust the brain doc, but here’s the text that came with this illusion…

The Right Brain vs Left Brain test … do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise? If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa. Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.

LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
knowing
acknowledges
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies
practical
safe
RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
uses feeling
“big picture” oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
believes
appreciates
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
impetuous
risk taking

Well, I can only see her spinning either way, so what does that make me?

Regardless of whether it’s really a right-vs-left test, I share it because it features several elements that help content go viral:

1. Creative Visual: Whether a photo, video, or — in this case — gif animation, a creative visual immediately catches the eye. (Plus, we’re all attracted to the human form. Naked spinning human forms in particular.) That seems obvious, but a lot of marketers try to promote “word of mouth” with words only. Support your local artist!

2. Interactivity: This isn’t just something to read, it’s something to interact with. And it actively engages the viewer without demanding as much effort as, say, a multiple-choice quiz.

3. Education: People like to learn, particularly about themselves. The reason school turns off so many students is  uninspired presentations and rigid standards (“Pass or fail!”). Educational media excels in a non-academic context, particularly if done with a little showbiz flair. Financial influencer Suze Orman has built a media empire by explaining a dry, complex subject in conversational terms. And some of the biggest hits on YouTube are how-to or demonstration videos, such as this Diet Coke + Mentos classic:

That one video probably boosted Mentos sales more than all those creepy Swedish commercials put together. (I’m sure the folks at Diet Coke enjoyed this as well.)

So if you can make your message visually creative, interactive, and entertainingly educational, you might have a viral piece of content. To help it on its viral way, you then need a little promo campaign — but we’ll save that for another article. I’m too dizzy from watching this girl spin.

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches graduate-level marketing communication courses at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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