Viral Online Media: Stars’ Selfie

People love privacy of celebrities, especially whether a star falls in love with some one, so it was really a big news in China when Chinese famous actress Bingbing Fan and actor Chen Li announced their relationship by posting a selfie on Weibo and named it “We”. If you don’t what is that, you can read this article: Stars’ confirmation they’re dating goes viral online.

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After Li posted a photo with Fan and Fan retweeted it, it became the most popular Weibo at once, and the word “We” became the hottest hashtag in the meantime. Lots of users of Weibo, even some other celebrities or official accounts, like UN, imitated Fan and Li to post a photo with people they love with hashtag #We.

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The first reason in my opinion why this post can go viral is that we all use social media and “social media users express their affective responses to online messages in ways that are visible to others” (Alhabash & McAlister, 2015, p.1319). When using Weibo, we always click “like” button or retweet a post to show our attitude towards a certain event, and both our “likes” and retweet shown on our timeline thus people who see our profile can see it. Li’s post (the photo with Fan) so far has received more than 3 millions “like” and has been retweeted more than 805k times. And the hashtag #We is still one of the hottest hashtags online (not only on Weibo) when people show their relationship. To be honest, I didn’t know Fan and Li’s news at the first time, while when I scrolled my Weibo that day, I found many of my friends post photos with their boyfriend or girlfriend with the hashtag #We.

Another key to help this post go viral in my opinion is that it expressed positive energy, just as “the content of news is more likely to become viral the more positive it is” (Berger&Milkman, 2012, p.196). When news of break up or divorce always the headlines of entertainment stars, Li’s post like a spring in the sludge, and people more like to bless for a relationship because in my opinion we both yearn for things make us feel happy rather than things makes us feel sad. Therefore, news with “more awe-inspiring (a positive emotion) content is more viral and sadness- inducing (a negative emotion) content is less viral” (Berger&Milkman, 2012, p.197).

However, one thing seems to be missing in this event is that “people share content to help others, generate reciprocity, or boost their reputation” (Berger and Milkman, 2012, p.201). I am not sure whether people retweet, click “like” button, or use #We as a hashtag can truly help others. To be honest, I don’t believe most of events (maybe except events like Ice Bucket Challenge which are born to help others) which go viral can truly help others, people involve into these events is more likely to have fun or show they know what is the most popular event that time.

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4 thoughts on “Viral Online Media: Stars’ Selfie

  1. Hi Lin’Ao,
    I think your case is in agreement with Berger and Milkman’s article for the reason you mentioned which is the positivity that expressed in this hashtag #we. Celebrities play a major role in making something go viral, by their retweeting, sharing, or participating in a hashtag. I can’t think of a hashtag that successes without the support of celebrities or famous people in Twitter. Moreover, the time is an important element for viral online media. For example, the sexual videotape of Donald Trump was released before the second presidential debate, which increased its chance to go viral.

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  2. I am familiar with the case you chose but had no idea that the word “we” had become such a hot issue imitated by non-Weibo-users. Actually Weibo has now, to some extent, developed into a place “creating” news, especially those entertainment news. I think in your case, involved celebrities have a lot to do with the reason it goes viral. Both Fan & Li have a large amount followers and have great impact among fans. People are surprised, also willing to share the glad tiding (all positive emotions). And time is important, too. At that time in China, people experienced a long time without celebrities’ “love” news. After Fan & Li, lots of stars like Huo & Lin, Wu & Liu, Chen & Chen, their news of falling love or weddings did not evoke such interests. Instead, people would pay more attention to other kinds gossips.

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