Everything You Ever Wanted To Know
Well hello there. My name is Bronwyn and I enjoy cats. Not really that much in real life. Mainly just on the internet. Internet cats; they are meth to my generation. Which is saying a lot, given that I’m from Missouri and that Breaking Bad was so popular.
So this is the thing about internet cats: we all like them. Don’t try and deny it. I know you are thinking about a particular fuzzy friend right now that you wish was playing on a GIF loop instead of reading this marginally interesting blog post. The good news? It’s not your fault, and you are not alone.
Mashable tells me that “cats” get an average of 30,400,000 google searches a month. As a point of reference, poor Kim Kardashian only gets 11,100,000. Also monthly, Grumpy Cat’s website gets an average of 1.5 million unique hits. Grumpy Cat’s Facebook Page has 1,663,970 likes and you should know, since we are officially bringing up random celebrities, that’s 2 times more than that of heartthrob Nicolas Cage. The CEO of The Cheezburger Network, Ben Huh (random celebrity number 3), claims that he receives 10 times the number of LOLCat submissions as HotDog submissions to his user generated content sites. A simple Youtube search turns up 11,300,000 results when you type in the word “cat”.
There’s actually a lot of data floating around out there about how popular cat content actually is. Most of the numbers I used up there are pretty skewed and I only used them to support the premise of this blog post, but you get the picture, right?
Why do you and I like cats so much?
It is probably worth mentioning the human race’s history with the feline race. Our fascination might as well be as inherent as opposable thumbs. Okay, that’s probably pushing it, but the intensity of the human/cat bond runs as far back as The Ancient Egyptians. In fact, I bet it runs back farther than that, but when you say they did something in Ancient Egypt, you don’t really need to dive much farther back into history to prove a point.
Forbes cites the possibility that peoplez liking kittehz is a social and biological predisposition derived from the fact that cats have big eyes, small noses, and a head shape that resembles human babies’. Sure Forbes. Whatever you say.
Sam Huh’s wife, Emily Huh, likes to think that the internet is the equivalent of taking your cat on a walk. You don’t really take your cat out on a leash, so where else can you parade that pretty puss around town? Where most people do the things they wouldn’t normally do in the light of day. Online.
There’s also the horrendously possible possibility that we are all infected with a parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii that can be found in cat feces. If this is the case, we are literally drawn to the scent of cats by a parasitic rewiring of the fear and sexual desire portions of our brain. I cannot make this stuff up.
You want to know the truth though? All of this is wrong.
The fact of the matter is, the landscape of the internet is shifting and everyone is along for the ride except for people who work in marketing.
Remember that generation that I talked about earlier? It’s not actually MY generation. You know, the overly entitled Gen Y kids who can’t hold eye contact and live with their parents –Although we do really like cats too.
It’s OUR generation. Gen C. The Content Generation: an entire new subset of people grouped together not by the year they were born, but by their hunger to be a part of big conversations.
See here’s the thing. Google and I have been thinking long and hard about something lately. What makes people like stuff? My focus has primarily been on 30-year-old divorced men, but Google is aiming a little broader. They are working on something called The Engagement Project.
“At Google, we’re interested in the ‘how’ of engagement. We’ve interviewed industry visionaries, the world’s biggest brands, content creators on the cutting edge, and researchers who are codifying our experiences. We’re aggregating all our beliefs and learnings, here, into The Engagement Project.”
TL;DR? Here’s a Cat.
The moral of the story isn’t that cats are what we love. It’s the nature of cat content that we love. As humans, we may be predisposed to want to look at pictures of kitties on the web because of their head shape (whatever you say Forbes), but the reality is that we are predisposed to want to look at certain concepts that we can engage with.
So, according to a bunch of experts, Google, and me, these are the concepts:
You want to view something that you can relate to. Who hasn’t spent enough time with a cat to know they are cold, aloof, and unfeeling? Who hasn’t had the desire to act the way that a cat behaves around their best-friend’s boyfriend? Cat memes express things we understand. They transcend language, culture, and time with cute.
You want to look at something that gives you a new perspective on something you already know about. Who hasn’t been extra moved by a Grumpy Cat or Lil Bub image just because WHO KNEW CATS COULD BE THAT DAMN CUTE? Actually, that’s simplifying it a lot. Think of Lil’ Bub and Grumpy Cat like someone Instagramming their mundane breakfast with a super fresh filter. These are two cats with genetic abnormalities that offer a unique peek at something we all already know about, the cuddliness of cute cats.
“By seeing the miraculous in the mundane, we’re learning to fall in love with the world again, to laugh with it, and be fascinated by it.” -The Google
You want to look at things you know other people will also appreciate. When I first started working at goBRANDgo! I would end all of my emails with cat pics. I really didn’t even like cat pics then, but everyone could relate to what I was sharing. It inspired human connection to the ridiculous correspondence I was shoving in my coworkers’ faces. Now I have, like, 1 whole person who will go to lunch with me when no one else in the office is available.
I’m finally popular and it is all thanks to cats.
So here’s the closing thought.
Cat & dog content statistics are actually pretty similar. Cat posts tend to be slightly more viral, but all in all, positive engagement with both pets’ posts are remarkably alike. Anyway, that’s a different conversation for a different day. I was just trying to appear like I knew what I was talking about by quoting different statistics from other peoples’ blogs. We focus on cats because we are most engaged with cats, but the reality is that good, solid, viral, content comes from everywhere. Not just from the cat lady up the street.
Here’s an oddly long list of sources I used to write this blog: Google’s Engagement Project, Proof Generation C is a thing, I didn’t make up that stuff about Cat Poop… RadioLab did, Forbez, BuzzFeed, PBS, Another Guy’s Blog, Mashable Infographic on Why Do We Love Cats So Much, Mashable Infographic on Cats & Also Bacon
Still craving more cat things? Check this out.