Handling Hot Topics On The Internet

abraham lincoln
Seeing that Stephen Spielberg’s film Lincoln now has twelve Oscar nominations, it got me thinking about how I would handle such an online hot property if I were to be so lucky as to own one. Indeed what is a hot property and what do you need to do to handle it well and make it super-hot.

What makes a topic hot

fireworks going off

There are at least three reasons why a property may become hot on the Internet.

  • Luck
  • Novelty, and
  • Talent

ada lovelace

In the luck category, I can quote a recent anecdote. On December 10th the SMM BC website saw 44 times more visitors than the average daily traffic seen over the previous two months. The reason for this was that Google that day had a commemorative search logo depicting Ada Lovelace. The SMM BC website had posted an article encouraging everyone to celebrate Ada Lovelace day on the 16th October.

The day is named after Ada Lovelace, who worked with inventor Charles Babbage on plans for an “analytical engine” in the 1800s. The device is now widely regarded as the world’s first computer model, and Ms Lovelace as the first computer programmer, although the pair never actually built it.

Given that intriguing Google logo, many had searched for this person Ada Lovelace and clicked on the SMM BC article.


When it comes to novelty, the social media are playing an increasingly important role here. Perhaps the most dramatic example of that is the PSY – Gangnam StyleVideo, which in 5 months has now been seen by 1,159,151,098 views as of today.

Finally talent as a driver of hot topics hardly needs explanation. Fine films such as those of Steven Spielberg mentioned earlier demonstrate how well talent is recognized by us all and how rapidly we spread the word.

This trio of forces, luck, novelty and talent, are not factors that can easily be manipulated. Any successful hot topic must have its own innate share of any or all of these three factors. Without them, the topic is likely to turn out to be a damp squib.

How to handle hot topics

If you are lucky enough to be the owner of a hot topic, then you must ensure that your delivery system to the Internet can meet all the demands that will be placed on it.

The minimum is that a potential viewer can actually get access to the Web page which features the hot topic. If the topic is super hot, then the supercharged traffic can be akin to a denial of service attack on your web host. Most hosts will immediately take preventative actions and visitors will see only an apology.

Almost as important as gaining access is that the viewing experience should be pleasurable. A user will not be happy to find the Web page downloads very slowly because the broadband availability has been throttled back. This can happen inexplicably when using shared hosting and for success the hot topic budget should cover the use of a dedicated server.

The problems are an order of magnitude more difficult when it comes to playing live action or videos. To deliver timely video action to a multitude of visitors, a streaming server is absolutely necessary. This will be configured and sized to handle the maximum likely audience at any given time. If even this cannot cope with the flood of visitors, then at least any difficulties will be understandable to frustrated viewers as they realize the extreme popularity of what they are seeking to view.  This might even create a scarcity value, which would increase the hype even more.

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