I recently saw Donald Trump described as being like a post-turtle.
What’s a post-turtle?
Apparently a post-turtle is a common occurrence in the mid west of America, farming country.
You’re driving along dead straight roads for miles and miles.
All there is on either side of you is endless wooden posts.
Then occasionally, in the middle of all those endless posts, you see one with a turtle on top.
No apparent reason for it, but that is called a post-turtle.
And I saw Donald Trump described as a post-turtle.
When someone asked why, the explanation was as follows.
“He’s like a post-turtle because you know he don’t belong up there.
He don’t know what to do now he’s up there.
He’s been elevated way beyond his ability to function.
And you wonder what dumb son-of-a-bitch thought it was a good idea to put him up there in the first place.”
That’s a powerful put-down.
It went viral because it works well on several levels.
From our point of view, as communicators, it’s worth asking why.
First, it’s funny.
Funny is a way of feeling sympathy for something, an argument an idea.
If we’re laughing, we’re part-way to agreeing.
Second, it’s simple.
Anyone can understand the points being made.
We don’t need a political commentator to break down the statistics.
Third, it’s visual.
Although it’s described entirely in words, the words paint a picture.
To see the picture the audience has to imagine it.
To imagine it they have to, at least temporarily, accept it.
Plus, a picture remains in the memory a lot longer than dry facts.
Fourth, it’s an analogy.
It’s hard to persuade someone by stating the argument head-on.
But if we compare it to something else, we avoid that.
If we can get them to accept our analogy, they’re part-way to accepting our argument.
So that is how to talk to ordinary people.
A simple, memorable, visual joke anyone can understand.
Plus it has another massive benefit.
That’s exactly the ingredients you need to go viral.
Like a good joke.
If it made us laugh, and we can remember it, we can pass it on.
We can do that via face-to-face conversation, over the phone, or twitter, or facebook, whatever.
Just like I’m doing now.
Because that’s what works in going viral.
It has to be interesting and it has to be simple.
It’s no good being interesting if what you’ve got to say is long and boring: TLDR.
It has to be short, and it has to be memorable.
That’s how we stake a claim in the human brain.
And before we can get our message to go viral we have to get it into the human brain.
Because that’s what puts the message into social media.
So the important question isn’t: how does social media go viral?
The important question is how do people go viral?