Going Viral in a Social Web World

Two events caught on in the social seo web world today and I’d like to take a look at each them.

First we have the Blog Tag Game now to get a better understanding of what actually happened and is still happeneing I’m going to point to soloSEO’s nice presentation of The Blog Tag Tree. It looks like David Gale tagged 5 people and one of his branches was Avinash Kaushik whos branch I’m on. Because this branch hit pocket of “link friendly” and “link accessible” people it grew rapidly and profusely in an extremely short span of time. Now if you’re familiar with Malcolm Gladwell and the Tipping Point you may remember the story of the hush puppy shoes. When it hit the SEO branch we were well past the “innovator” stage and were firmly in the “early adopter stage”. It was new, it was fresh, and in short it was “cool” to be on the leading edge or first wave of being tagged. Because you were limited to tagging five people it let it grow past the few dead spots but still “alive” enough that it was growing yet still exclusive enough that people wanted to be tagged (this was a market shortage much like the launch of the Wii). As a marketer that’s the sweet spot you want to create and be in. Try and pull a stunt like this in week you’ll have no where near the participation that happened this time (I’ll tell you right now I’m ignoring you). Why won’t it work next week? Once everyone has one you’ve gone from Swanky Beverly Hills or Manhattan Boutique to your local Walmart or Target and become a commodity. Sure some of you say Gray blog tagging has been around for eva’ wasn’t it a commodity already? In the cat blogging world sure, maybe even in some the early tech blogging spaces, but in SEO blogland it never caught on or went anywhere.

So what made it catch on this time, hitting the right people. I’m sure some of you wonder does hitting the right people really matter? Absolutely! If you play on Digg, you may wonder why some stories grab hold and others don’t. One of the things I like to play with is Associated Press stories. They are the same stories reprinted in multiple newspapers or websites. Since then end content is almost identical you can marginalize it as a variable in testing and experimenting. Find a good AP story that never made it, find it on a different site juice up the title in your submission see what happens, sometimes a really good bit of title bait is all the difference it makes. However if you really want to push the limits submit the exact same title and snippet, just promote, work your network and mail it to your friends, quite often just getting that little bit of initial critical mass is all you need to get it on the upcoming page and the digg machine takes over from there.

To get an idea of exactly how important your network is we’ll look at DaveN’s new site Tickme.com. I made a post about being Ticked off because I wasn’t getting enough votes. Now knowing I have 1500+ subscribers I knew some of them would go and vote for me. I then went and joined groups, almost every group I could, I even created some. What this did was seed the space with the ‘graywolf brand’. Then to complete my plan I went social and emailed people asking them to join my groups (which from a technical point got me extra votes). Did it work lets see:

Tick-League--TickMe.png

You’ve got DaveN the Admin who probably had a head start with some seed votes, then me mixed in amongst the “hotties” (dammit where were all you women when I was single and in high school!!!). SEOIdiot gave me a run for a while and ShoeMoney well he’s just a rockstar. Let’s be honest I’m not Donald Trump, if I wanted to get to the top I was going to have to work the ‘social network’ to reach my goal. Just in case you’re wondering no I didn’t use any sock puppets, multiple accounts, proxy servers or any of that other stuff, this was all straight up, aggressive yes, but still straight up.

So what’s my point here and what do I want you to take away. If you want to go viral with a story idea or product you need to do your homework and make sure you get some things right:

1) Whatever you’re selling has be good. If it’s exceptional that’s better, but you’ll never go viral with crap.
2) Get some low level initial visibility. You want just enough that people see you and start to recognize you, but don’t over do it.
3) Identify the influencer’s and early adopters. If you can get to them before hand that’s even better, but getting to them early in the game is crucial, try to get them involved in spreading your message.
4) Don’t try the same thing twice no mater how well it worked the first time. Try something different or you’ll end up looking like a has been or wanna be.

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