Time and time again articles are published whereby the results of social media integration prove significant gains for companies who implement a new online strategy WELL. Time and time again, companies still manage to ‘do it wrong’.
I find that I am continually telling people/consultants/companies that there are better ways of ‘doing it’ ie: marketing, ie: spreading the word, ie: using social media. I decided that its time that I was able to prove it. Prove it in a way that shows how a ‘situation’ starts and how the viral nature of social media takes action.
So here it is, my own personal little game, my own personal little challenge, perhaps the most daring and ‘out there’ thing I’ve ever done.
See, I don’t have a great deal of facebook friends, 287 at the time of writing. This group consist of roughly 30% work friends, 40% school friends and 30% university/friends from other places. I wanted to be able to prove that you don’t need to have a big following to be able to ‘put yourself out there’, to ‘reach the masses’ and to ‘make an impact’.
So my friends set up a challenge. The challenge is that “If 1000 people join this group, Matt Kelly will eat…”. The description contains; “4 cheeseburgers, 4 medium fries, 4 medium cokes and 2 large chocolate sundaes in a period of 40 minutes.”
Is this a challenge that I can complete if we achieved 1000 followers? Of course it is, in fact it isn’t quite as extreme as first anticipated. Sure, I’m positive I won’t be feeling too well after the event, however the potential gain in being able to illustrate how social media works justifies the ‘physical and emotional’ strain of the challenge.
See, there was a reason as to why I needed the title and description to be so ridiculous. It had to be compelling. As an individual, I don’t have a product or service I’m trying to sell. I simply wanted to prove the fact that with compelling content, through the right avenues, the ‘followers’ will come, and they will share the content they deem worth sharing.
So what was the result…?
Well after one day, there was already an interesting skew of results. It turns out that only 46% of the group members were existing friends of mine. What is more interesting however is that 54% of group members, I had never heard of.
The results skewed even further from there showing an even more significant sway to ‘randoms’ rather than people I knew.
By day 14, the results were clearly skewed to the point where the reason for the challenge has been proven.
The interesting thing here is that as time went on, the results continued to skew. This is because as people joined, their personal networks became further removed from mine. This proves that if you have something compelling to share, unlike TV or ‘old media’, it can be recycled and redistributed by others. In other words, you create the viral effect with quality content and without the need for a big budget or a team of people.
I’ve outlined a visual example of exactly how this works on Facebook. See, the average Facebook user has approximately 130 friends (according to Facebook statistics). If one user shares a message which is compelling to their 130 friends, there is a chance that at least 3 of these will pick up the message and re-share it, and so on. After 3 trenches of communication, 13 people have shared the message, but approximately 1690 people have seen your message. If this sequence follows two more times, you have had 120 people share your message and 15600 have seen it! Beyond this point, the story only continues to magnify.
Or in more visual terms..
The best part about social media marketing is that there is no limit to the number of times something can be shared, which is why we see ‘viral’ YouTube videos with in excess of 20 million views. Companies currently spend millions of dollars per year on television commercial budgets and publication of articles however this content rarely lasts longer then a number of days at best. In a television commercial’s case, it is literally lucky to last beyond 35 seconds.
If your organisation has an opportunity to identify your target market online, viral marketing is increasingly becoming a necessity. If you would like to contact me, feel free at any time using the email link to the right of this column.
For more information about the challenge or to join the group, click here.
UPDATE - 10th July, 2010.
The challenge finished several weeks ago and the video has finally made it to youtube.
Google continues to innovate! Massive social media integration!
Twitter went crazy this morning because for the first time, Google’s standard (and sometimes creative) header turned interactive! The page contained a fully functioning java based version of Pacman with a flash overlay featuring the original audio.
Classic game, classic move from google, classic use of Social Media and VIRAL marketing.
Ashton Kutcher has 5,280,576 twitter followers. Kevin Rose has 1,170,008 twitter followers. Old Spice has 85,927 twitter followers.
This single tweet could have potentially been witnessed by over 6.5 million people. These are people who potentially wouldn’t have stumbled upon the video and certainly wouldn’t have searched for it without reason. Over 6.5 million people who now have an increased brand recognition for Old Spice.
But wait, this doesn’t even consider the viral nature of social media. What about the number of people who retweeted Ashton? Ashton and Kevin are both very influential on twitter, so a tweet from either or both could have easily been retweeted hundreds of times, to hundreds of additional networks.
Is it starting to sink in?
It all started with compelling content to engage consumers… Getting the right content, to the right people. Old Spice have developed a genius campaign which gives consumers an urge to share their brand. Another company, with a fantastic approach to social media.
So Jennifer Aniston has been working with Smart Water in the USA to send their product viral. Unfortunatly they may have just missed the mark.
To quote one of the commenters “Talking about viral hoping that you will go viral is like talking about a lottery win hoping you win the lottery.”
It was a good effort and I don’t hate the video, they’ll get the hits they are looking for and will probably see the commercial benefits as a result. I just think it could have been a little more.. Classy?
I’ve got a story that illustrates how compelling content + social integration = outstanding outrageousness!
4 weeks ago I broke this world record with a good friend of mine, Dave Thompson.
Since then, life spiraled out of control. We started to get media attention initially from a few random websites, but also from Bloomberg’s Business Week. After doing a few interviews, we found ourselves in touch with the Co-Founder and President of the Universal Record Database, Dan Rollman discussing whether or not it could be possible for us to be in Austin, Texas on the 13th of March. This conversation was taking place just 4 days prior.
So long story short, we found a way and ended up in Austin for this event.
We spoke briefly onstage to the thousands present and then went on to break the record for the fastest time to eat 3 tim tams while crowd surfing.
Insanity was only just beginning. After the big event, people started to recognise us when we were out walking the streets of Austin. We had various people coming over and wanting to talk to us. Not only was this an amazing experience, but more so, it started to open doors.
From there, we had 4 days at the South By SouthWest Interactive festival in Austin. This is one of the biggest tech conferences in the world today. We saw some of the most influential tech folks do keynotes and attended some outrageous functions where we were able to meet some of the people I really look up to.
As a result of this trip, I’ve identified truth in many of the concepts I’ve been talking about for a long time. When you have a compelling story, people listen and share. Work on your content and collaborate with your followers/fans/friends, this is a simple process yet so frequently companies are missing the opportunity.