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Leading behaviour: what goes viral and what doesn’t

So, if 19 million people* were moved by a piece of viral communication to talk like a pirate yesterday (see post below), how come only 150,000 people a day regularly click on www.thehungersite.com ?

I remember when the hunger site started up in the heady dotcom days and some naive optimists (yep, that was me) saw an inkling of a possibility of this one initiative making a real difference to world hunger. My God, we thought, look what the internet might achieve in channeling goodwill and, more importantly, food, to hungry people while delivering millions of eyeballs to advertisers for a few seconds at a time to pay for it?

After all, who wouldn’t want to spend five seconds a day clicking on a button to give a cup of free food to people who have none? And at no cost to themselves?

When the site first launched, I received half a dozen viral emails in several different languages telling me to go visit the hunger site and help cure world hunger.

So, I assume millions of other people were part of this wave of awareness, too. Yet the hunger site went bust a few years ago and had to be rescued by The Common Good, an American charity that got it up and running again.

Now there’s a steady state of about 150,000 people who click per day, dropping by a third or more at weekends (what? too difficult to click from home?) Why isn’t this the ultimate viral communication that ends world hunger?

I guess we are all too busy talking like pirates.

*Discount by, say, 75% for hype and that’s still a guesstimate of 5 million people.


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