Mashable, Pitbull, and a Walmart in Alaska

November 13, 2014

By Michael Berberich

Mashable is a media blog that specializes in viral social content, featuring the stories, videos and images that are being shared across social media. In order to stay hyper-relevant, the brand developed a system called Velocity that is based on machine learning algorithms and can find stories that are about to go viral. Velocity scans millions of digital data points, analyzes and categorizes them, and predicts their viral potential based on social interactions.

When Mashable first tested Velocity, the system reported that the next URL to go viral would be the Facebook page for a Walmart located in Kodiak, Alaska. Initially the brand thought that there was a system malfunction due to the improbable nature of the results, but when it began to trace Velocity’s crawl path, the story began to present itself. Walmart had recently announced a contest where musical entertainer Pitbull would hold a concert in-store at the Walmart that had the Facebook page with the most likes. While the artist was popular in the mainstream, groups on sites like Reddit and 4chan were not fans, and organized an effort to make the Kodiak, Alaska Walmart — the brand’s most remote location in the U.S. — the winner. The prank worked, Pitbull performed in Alaska, and Mashable learned that the next “big thing” in social could truly come from anywhere, and that systemized social listening was the only way to stay “ahead of the curve.”  

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