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I dont know of any stats, but I know my (70ish year old) nan and grandad keep sending our family jokes they get from their friends!

Ben you may try to write a mail to:


It's an italian website totally devoted to monitoring virals.

Since a planner I know contributes to it, they may have something for you.

Not sure, but worth a try.

I had a quick email exchange with Ben about this earlier. But in the nature of sharing, here's my thoughts:

I've really got no idea where you could find such a thing. Or indeed how one would measure it. In fact... stand by for a mini rant...

I don't think you could measure this without using specific mails as stimulus. E.g. did you like this video of a guy being blown up in a VW? Did you like this chicken that you can tell to do stuff? And that would just give you a picture of specific creative executions, not really viral content per se.

I think the biggest issue is that the 'grey market' will have it's own stuff that it decides to makes viral. As a vile generalisation you'd imagine it'd a bit smarter, a bit less immature.

The thing is that unless you're part of 'their' world it's difficult to find out - unless you're part of your mum's 'list'. I know when I occasionally get things from my mum that her friends have been sending around I'm quite surprised.

Basically what I'm saying is that the audience for virals is self selecting. And if the people who send shit around know their mates, then they should all feel that viral emails are 90% relevant to them and generally enjoy getting them.

Perhaps a good place to get some ideas is by trying to find some 'grey bloggers' and see what they're blogging about. For certain bloggers their blog is a replacement for the stuff they used to group mail to people. And from my experience blogs make up a huge part of the viral spread of things. Probably moreso than email.

Hope that makes sense.

If you asked my grandma how she feels about virals, she'd think you were weird and/or that you needed a lesson in grammar.

I think Iain's suggestion of looking at 'grey' bloggers is wonderful.

One method I thought of was to intercept and collect popular viral mails and look through the accumulated addresses within its body. With a little bit of hard work and a little inspiration, there's much to be mined in email addresses. Thanks to email site suggestions, incorporating the year of birth in the email id is an often used option - and I notice its fairly prevalent in the 'grey market.' (One of my dad's earlier email id was xxxxx1940@xxx.com - the x's, of course, being placemarkers for the actual id)

Like Iain mentions the maket is self selecting and if people are receiving it, they probably enjoy receiving them.

Taking the email addresses incorporating year of birth to be a constant ratio of overall number of mail addresses, you can even work out which kind are more popular among the grey market in relative comparison.

Thanks very much for your help, everyone.

I think Iain has summed it up, there isn’t any data. Any there probably shouldn’t ever be.

hello, at our agency (glue london) we often invent lots of charts with stuff about how mums, silver surfers, etc propagate content on the 'net. (do virals).

I did some very light research. Of all the silver surfers who use email, all of them occasionally forward on 'fun stuff'. here's what consitutes 'viral' for this audience:

bunches of pictures
e.g. pictures of kittens with amusing captions

sweet/cute/witty/heartwrenching stories, which end with a moral about e.g. appreciating the ones you love around you.

the odd chain email - either a warning, or a post this 5 people and your dreams will come true

jokes - simple, plain text. exactly the kind they'd tell in person.

optical illusions or those text ones where you think of a tool and and a colour, and you scroll down... keep scrolling... and it says "you're thinking of a red hammer"

vouchers and offers
e.g. a link to a 20% selfridges voucher
or within communities of interest e.g. free seedlings at all HomeBase stores.

here's what I think it means (not the opinions of my employers etc):

They aren't used to interacting, in real time, for entertainment, with the 'net.
so subservient chickens or flash games are a bit lost - it's like making a monthly newspaper for urban 11-16 year olds. Even if the content is right - it's not the right media.

I think games or entertainment should mirror what they do online already - for example an online game should be more like scrabble (they love playing word games and card games on sites like Yahoo! games) than an arcade game.

My second thought is that all this "viral stuff" is only a small part of their lives. they actually mail each other about their grandkids and their interests (e.g. sailing). so why not create campaigns that can personalise themselves around what they're actually interested in. E.g. a site that let's you share baby grandson pics and add a flower border round their head and send it on. Rubbish idea - but you get what I mean. written too much already.

I don't have any stats.


what useful stuff, thanks anthony.

It's up to Ben of course, but that feels like a t-shirt winner to me.

Anthony, that's very, very interesting (note the use of two 'very's').

Drop me an email and we'll sort you out with a tshirt. Maybe one with a picture of you with some flowers round your head?

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