Thursday, August 11, 2016

Viral Coefficient in Social Media

I was approached by an entrepreneur who wanted to know how to make things go viral.  Actually he asked what are early signs that things might go viral.  The following is my reply.

I have occasionally experimented in how to make things go viral.  These same ideas apply to promoting a product like a book.

The obvious - develop a product with a viral co-efficient greater than 1 - meaning if you tell 100 people, you get more than 100 views or users.

My real life example.  I thought I would experiment with my Ted Talk (and the URL I point you to is not the original that had over 100,000 views).  I ended up with over a 10 times viral co-efficient when I sent a personal email to business friends.  For each one email, I got over 10 views.  But over time, that dropped because I was sending it to people I had less and less relationship to.  Eventually it went to less than 1.

One expression I always say is "light 1,000 fires".  A fire is anything that might start the ball rolling.  Examples(and certainly not a definitive list but a start):

1 - Do a blog entry on it.  Enlist other bloggers.
2 - Do a Linkedin update or aricle
3 - Facebook update
4 - Google Plus update (I think people still sometimes look at these)
5 - Do a Pinterest
6 - Send an email to a list or specific contacts
7 - Send a Tweet, tap your friends with a social media presence to help.
8 - do a snail mailing (they actually work again since email is deleted so quickly)
9 - for even better response send a personal note on the mailing.
10 - public speaking/presentations
11 - press release
12 - publish a white paper
13 - post about it on Quora
14 - Instagram
15 - Publish an article on eZine
16 - Do a flyer drop
17 - post handbills or signs
18 - advertise in papers, radio, TV, magazines etc
...
You get the idea.  Spread the word.  And of course all fires are not the same.  An article on my blog is not the same as an article in the NY Times (but over time, I think the NY Times can improve to be close).

And of course light many of these many times.  And track everything to figure out which ones work.  And you never really will know which one will cause something to go viral.

Part of what causes something to go viral is hitting the right target audience.  You may have a great product for 17 year olds in which case, try to light a fire where they are.  At the same time - especially during start up, you may think you know your target but it might be something different.  So try lots of everything.

With messaging services like Kik or a social media work out apps like Pumpup, a network effect can also kick (or kik) in.  Speaking of Kik - there is an interesting article on their bots.  The more people who use the service, the more people who will want to use it because there are more people connected.  It gets easier and easier to acquire users.

With productivity Apps like Gyst, there is some network effect in that more users will naturally tell others about it if they like it and are excited by it.

The formula gets complex though.  Viral things slow over time as all interested users use or view.  And with users, it is even more complex because it is all about keeping people using it.  Monthly Average Users is a key metric that people track.  So apps need to keep users interested so they remain active.  It is a constant push to add features, remind users, train users etc.

And part of success is about churn - how many users drop off over time.

And the topic of another blog post would be monetization.  Once you have users or views...now what.

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Olympics are on.  I do not follow them much.  Canada's Simon Whitfield and Brenda Irwin have some comment on their Relentless Blog.

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And just a reminder - save the world, save yourself - eating lentils is healthy for you.
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Inspired by my last blog on lighting fires without matches - my granddaughter with a tiny bit of assistance from her dad.


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