Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: A taste of going viral

Friday, February 26, 2016

A taste of going viral

 On the morning of February 25th I woke up to what I thought was a virus running rampant on my computer. Everything "blew up" and by that I mean emails, comments, blogs and submissions for nearly every single one of my sites came in.  I was getting THOUSANDS of emails and submissions from contact forms were coming from every corner. If I could relate the feeling to something it would be like it your house is flooding and you don't know how and why. It's scary, quite frankly. I felt like I had to stop the bleeding especially since the messages/submissions were getting past 4,000.

 After mass confusion I finally found out that I actually went viral. Some freebie blogs picked up my free swag link and it got shared dozens of times. In the span of about 8 hours I got over 4,000 responses. I literally woke up to a shit storm. To stop the bleeding... I shut down the form. Then instead I started receiving multiple emails per second. In the span of 15 minutes I got about 100. 

 Just to give you guys a little history on my swag for some context: I've had this website for 13 years and have been doing swag for about 4. In 4 years I haven't even hit the 100 mark in terms of submissions for free swag and swag mailed out. It costs me on average $0.49 cents to $2.54 per envelope sent out, sometimes more. I send out about 20 A YEAR. And I got 4,000 overnight. This was overwhelming but I was determined to turn this negative into a positive. I started emailing people back thanking them for the submission with an explanation of what's happened and why I can't send out anymore swag. To mail all the submissions I got would cost over $2,000.00. I probably have at most 100 pieces of swag I can mail.                                                                              
 Most folks were understanding, but a few prickly jerks felt the need to be big babies. Like this response on the left, this guy responded to me with simply "Terrible customer service" when I sent him the email explaining. He wrote back with "Can you do anything for the inconvenience" so I sent him a picture of Freddie Mercury with the caption "Taaaaa-daaa!" Another grown woman wrote me: "This is not ok. You should still honor the ones submitted." When I explained to her the confusing concept of "while supplies last" she said "I will take business else where and won't be recommending you to people!" WHAT "BUSINESS"?

How some people acted when I ran out of promo stuff

 As my friend put it "I think the fact you had thousands of emails and ran out of free swag means you don't exactly need her to recommend you." I couldn't believe all the people who did nothing short of throwing a temper tantrum. Further more, it was over FREE STUFF. I even had people "threatening" to "leave me bad reviews on facebook" if I "don't send them the free stuff." It is TOO funny and all I could hear was "Waaaaaaaaaaaa!!"

I am allergic to jerks though. 
 The level of submissions I got was overwhelming. How does one respond to or even go through 4,000 messages? At this time I've only been through 1,500 at most. And have found out that Gmail has a limit on how much you can email. So I literally can't even write ALL of these people back. I spent from morning to night doing damage control on this situation. I was doing the best I could and making some mis-steps along the way. I one point I had to stop turn my computer off, chill out and cry. It was overwhelming. I was shocked just how rude people can be and I already knew people on the internet are mostly jerks. 

 I didn't know that going viral is actually a lot like getting infected by a virus without medication. You have to let it run it's course and eventually it goes away. When it's happening you can to very little if anything about it. The best thing you could do is get offline and rest, eat and nap. Once I did that I felt a lot better. But even this cloud has a silver lining. In the process I managed to connect with hundreds of nice people and legit rock n roll fans. I got likes, mailing list subscriptions and even sales of my actual products and not just free stuff. I'm still dealing with this problem...ehh...situation(?) and just trying to get the best out of it. I never thought this sort of thing would happen with this free swag. I know people love free stuff as do I. But this was more of an instance where something that's been around gets viral and goes around again and gets "too" popular.

 To those of you who contacted me and were kind and understanding I appreciate(d) that more than you know. Even though I had to deal with several rude people the good ones shined through in numbers. I feel like I got a *crash* course on what fucking happens when something goes "viral." And as a whole the verdict is...
 P.S. Thursday, May 12, 2016 My free swag has gotten out of control again. Despite the initial 3,000 messages I received (which quickly grew to 7,000+) on February 25th I still manage to get inundated with responses. I get about 20 submissions every hour. I noticed a huge upswing in submissions from Algeria. I don't even ship free swag internationally, which I do specify on my free swag page. Since late February my giveaway has been spread around way more. And since there is a language barrier with international submissions I can't seem to continue. I get so many responses that I can't get back to them because gmail has emailing limits. Getting the volume I am there is no way to keep it going.

 The best analogy I can give is this: it's like getting a water leak. You can't stop the water from gushing out so you shut it off. The moment I turn the water back on it starts gushing out again. The moment I turn my forms back on I start receiving responses. Based off of the comments from folks, my free swag page is still circulating. Freebie Blogs, Mommy Blogs, anything you can think of. It's just plain ridiculous. I hate that something that used to be fun for me has turned into a nightmare. I may have to stop doing free swag permanently. :/ I keep trying to bring it back after a break to see if I can make it work again. But at this point it is way too overwhelming. I mean seriously, look at this.


Pepper Aahz-Milligan said...

Hey darling I just got your swag in the mail today and am already shopping for more :) I just wanted to thank you for being so awesome. Your hard work hasn't gone unnoticed at least with me and my little house of indie musicians! I was personally impressed that you managed to find the time to reach out to so many, myself included to try to explain when you really didn't need to. Thank you again and I look forward to crossing paths again soon!

Becca Jones-Starr said...

Thank you Pepper I really appreciate it!

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