With the speed at which popular culture and the Internet changes, the amazing rise of Rebecca Black and her much-maligned song “Friday” may be nearly forgotten by now.

But for a few weeks this spring, it was hard to miss the 13-year-old Southern California teen whose parents paid a so-called vanity record label about $4,000 to write a song, have their daughter record it and shoot a music video built around it.

The result, “Friday,” was a dance-pop number that may rival “It’s a Small World” for its ability to stick in listeners’ heads - and annoy the heck out of them.

Although the song’s video was released to YouTube in February, it took almost a month for it to rise to the top of the website’s popularity index. As of late April, is has racked up more than 120 million views, spawned dozens of “viral” parodies and been dissected in the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly and on countless websites.

Few people seem to enjoy the song - among those who voted, it has only 331,000 “likes” compared with 2.4 million “dislikes” - but that doesn’t matter. By some estimates, she has earned at least $75,000 for it so far, thanks to iTunes Store sales and online video watching. Not bad for a song about a teen whose biggest life problems are waking up on time and deciding which seat to sit in for the drive to school.

So what does any of this have to do with HVAC or sheet metal? It speaks to the incredible power of viral marketing. At almost every convention I attended last winter, session speakers told contractors they needed to be on YouTube with videos that showcase their company’s expertise and services. A quick search of YouTube for “HVAC” brings up 24,000 videos, with thousands more in related subjects such as “duct” and “refrigeration.”

None of them approach the multimillion views of Black, but several have well over 100,000 viewings, proving that people do use the Internet to seek out videos on subjects such as air conditioning. Making a good-looking video does take some time, but it is not as expensive as you might think.

When you’re looking at your advertising budget, consider investing in some videos for your company’s website or YouTube “channel.” I think you could be happy with the results.

Sign up again

Changing subjects, our circulation department is running its annual push to remind readers to renew their subscriptions. If you haven’t renewed your subscription yet, go towww.Snipsmag.com/renew2011to keep your issues coming.

An option that we’re offering again this year is the chance to convert your print subscription to digital format. If you find that you do most of your reading these days sitting at your computer and would prefer to receive Snips in an interactive “digital” edition, go towww.Snipsmag.com/switch2011. Besides saving a few trees, our digital edition comes direct to your e-mail each month and is an exact copy of the print version. It allows you to zoom in and “turn” pages - all with a click of your computer’s mouse.

If you’d like to see how it works, go towww.Snipsmag.comand click on the “Digital edition archives” link on the left side of the screen.

April poll results