Binders and Bayonets: A Study in Virality

Lisa Frank Binders

Image from: Lisa Frank Binders /

By now we’re all familiar with Romney’s phrase “binders full of women,” which went viral mere hours after it was said in the second Presidential debate. The reaction was instantaneous online, trending on Twitter and even spawning its own Tumblr.

Politics aside, the data around the phrase gives a rare snapshot into the process of virality, notably who benefits from the search traffic and who has the social tie-ins to leverage unbranded meme momentum.

Below is a list of the top site destinations for the truncated search term “Binders Women.” Of the top 20, we can see that 11 belong in the News category. The remaining sites are either search engines or social platforms. The only remnant of relevance to the politics of the phrase is at the very end of the ranking, at the very last spot, in the form of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s site

Daily Keyword Destinations for Binders WomenTracking the process of how virality shifts traffic tells us who is nimble enough, authoritative enough, or simply pervasive enough to capture the fervent curiosity that fuels the proliferation of viral content. Many of the top news sites on the above ranking gain plenty of traffic off social referrals, meaning their headlines can be crafted to maximize shareability and boost social integration. Evidently, it’s working. Content marketers, take note.

As for social, Tumblr is the superlative example of agility in this case. The sheer amount of contributors–and the community’s deliberate currency of images and memes–positioned it as the best host for this viral example. In fact, ‘incubator’ might just be a better word for it looking at the amount of reproductions, manipulations, and original content generated on Tumblr in response to just a 4 word phrase.

And what about these bayonetes I keep hearing about after the most recent debate? Twitter is already trending #HorsesandBayonets and the phrase is bound to blow up much in the same way “Binders Full of Women” managed too. We’ll update as the data processes, and in the mean time everyone should make sure to get a flu shot: this election season is turning out to be the most viral yet.

About Ryan LaSala:
Ryan La Sala joins Compete as the Digital Marketing Co-op for, sovereign of all things social media. Ryan is a current attendant of Northeastern University, dual-majoring in Cultural Anthropology and International Affairs (with minors in Biology and Psychology), with career interests in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Consumer Anthropology. Aside from acquiring aspirations with big words, Ryan’s other interests include reading cheesy fiction, writing in any capacity, singing and cooking. Find Ryan on twitter @Ryality or connect with him on LinkedIn.