Social Media Watch – Trudeau’s Balancing Act

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Justin Trudeau was in the spotlight once again this week—on social media and in international media. But as we’ve seen before, it wasn’t related to his politics.

An old photo of the Prime Minister doing the Mayurasana yoga pose resurfaced on social media last week and subsequently “broke the internet.”

But would the photo have gone viral if the media didn’t start covering it? 

Toronto yoga instructor David Gellineau first posted the photo to his Facebook page on March 24. It was shared 4,635 times and received 10,000 likes and 659 comments.

While those numbers are certainly impressive, by definition, it doesn’t quite meet the viral status. It wasn’t until nearly a week later, when media picked up on the photo, that it began to gain significant traction.

There was a major spike on Tuesday, March 29 as media began publishing articles about the photo. Traction continued over the days following as foreign press began to take note, with Mashable, Time Magazine, Buzzfeed and The Guardian all publishing articles on the subject.

Between March 29-31, articles related to Trudeau’s yoga pose were shared nearly 200,000 times on Facebook alone. Now that’s viral.

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We can conclude that, in some cases, media play a greater role than we might think in deciding what content goes viral. One outlet picks up on a topic that was receiving moderate traction, and others latch on and take it into the stratosphere.

The Trudeau camp has seen this work to its benefit several times since the election. Media—especially in the U.S.—seem to love telling these feel-good stories about Trudeau, resulting in positive coverage that often gains more attention than negative political criticism.

Canadians may not be overly concerned about Trudeau’s ability to balance a budget, but they’re certainly impressed by his ability to balance in yoga.

Jeff Blay, Enterprise Canada

jblay@enterprisecanada.com

@JeffBlay