Spreadable Media

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Spreadable Media

The current media is characterized by the idea of spreadability and stickness. A clear understanding of the difference between the two terms will help understand what the idea of spreadability offers that is missed by the idea of stickness. Spreadability refers to the idea that media content can be moved from one particular site to another, and sometimes in a messy manner (Nightingale, 2011). Stickness, on the other hand, is the feature of a media content to initiate and maintain attention to an audience, and create an engagement for the audience as well. While spreadability uses the vehicle of social interaction to have ideas flow from one to many points, stickness involves the point concentration of the attention created by a particular piece of media. Indeed, stickness has the characteristic of creating a unified experience for the audience while spreadability creates a diversified experience. It is true to say that spreadability induces the need to diffuse the content while stickness induces the need to hold the information.

The case of Susan Boyle is a good illustration of spreadability and stickness. Susan’s video spread rapidly, attracting 77 million views on Youtube. Its spread is attributed to Twitter, Facebook, and microblogging. Boyle’s case also demonstrates stickness in that a good number of channel users got held by it, and used their channels to spread it. The 77 million views on Youtube also demonstrate the idea of stickness in that these people were attracted by the media content. Spreadability is very evident in that the dispersion of the content was as a result of the sharing over the social media sites.

It is wrong to understand the spread of the media as ‘viral media’ or ‘memes,’ as many people mistake. By viral media, people simply try to mean that the media has the ability to spread very quickly. However, this is a poor way to understand the spread of the media because there is a distinct difference between spreadability and stickness (Nightingale, 2011). In truth, a media content that has the stickness feature will not necessarily have the spreadability feature.


Nightingale, V. (2011). The handbook of media audiences. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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