Why You Can’t Predict Viral

Over at Spring Creek Group, we often get asked by clients if we can build something "viral" that will explode like the treadmill guys or the Diet Coke / Mentos mad scientists.  It’s hard to explain that you can’t make viral happen.  Unless you are so clever, that it looks like you are purposely NOT trying to be viral.   

I don’t know if this was a direct attempt at mass blog acceptance, but today I point you to Drivl.com, a web site that has seated itself in my bookmarks with armed bodyguards.

Speciifically, I point you to this article, "Why I’ll Never Make Digg." Well at the time of this writing, she has 7,205 Diggs, tops in the last hours.  So not only did she accomplish everything she said she couldn’t do,she did it so well that it renders the article irrelevant.  Forget Alannis Morisette.  This my friends, is irony.  And great Social Media.

Social Media Event at University of Washington Tonight

If you are looking for a fun way to spend a Wednesday evening, and especially if you are a Washington alum, come on down to the Douglas Forum at UW for an event focused on Social Media. Here’s the Facebook link.

I’ll be lucky enough to moderate this great panel:

– Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz.org
– Gary Kamikawa, VP Mktg, Mpire.com
– Justin Marshall, Social Media Architect, Zaaz
– Jessica Michaels, Group Media Director, Wunderman

The event runs from 6:00 – 7:30pm and is free.

How Come Only My Expensive Facebook Ads Get Clicked On?

So here’s a question for you.

I’m running a bunch of ads on Facebook, more out of curiosity than actually expecting success.  The Facebook Ad Manager Inerface is rudimentary, but fairly intuitive.  It has some definite limitations, but I’d expect it will start approaching par with AdSense this year.

But here’s the interesting part.

In one of my Ad Groups, I have about 2,500 impressions spread across 8 similar, but slightly different, ads.  I am offering $.45 CPC.  And in this group I have 0 clickthroughs. 

In my other Ad group, I took one of the ads and EXACTLY replicated it.  The only change I made was to boost the CPC to $.90.

Now, I expected that the $.90 CPC ad would get way more impressions from Facebook.  But what I didn’t expect, was that somehow it would generate a higher Clickthrough.  In, 1000 impressions my $.90 CPC ad generated 3 clicks.  While basically the same ad, generated 0 clicks in 2500 impressions when it is $.45 CPC.

I’ll follow up with more data on this later.  But my initial question is, "Why does a more expensive ad get a better Clickthrough, when the user doesn’t know how much I paid for it?" 

Players Texting the Media

So here’s something I bet Bob Cousy or Wilt Chamberlain never did.

An ESPN.com article reports that when New York Knick Stephon Marbury left his team’s practice in Phoenix and flew home to Arizona, "The point guard reportedly sent two text messages to the New York Post saying that he had permission to leave the team in Phoenix and fly back to New York. He arrived at approximately 4 p.m."

So much for the need for PR guys and Agents.   

But how far could this go?  Think about Game 7 of the World Series, and a player in the dugout texts the announcers.  Or training camp where a player texts a reporter about a rumor or trade.  I know it’s all absurd, but if you told me a player would ever leave practice and make his press statement through an SMS text directly to a reporter, I’d have said that was ridiculous too….  

“Heck, That’s Alternative to Alternative”

Remember the old Todd Snider song about the band who moved to Seattle and became a Grunge band that went on stage and refused to play any songs? Well if Social Media is the alternative grunge band, here are the guys who aren’t playing a note, yet.

This article from Wired discusses how a few folks have built a Social Media Marketing campaign around a TV show called Alive.  Here’s the alternative alternative part – The show doesn’t exist.

That’s right.  Here are a bunch of creative guys who built a marketing plan BEFORE they built the product.  In fact, they built the marketing plan to seed the market and raise the money to build the show.  The funny part is that it’s the exact opposite of a stealth launch, where a company goes into a basement, builds the technology, then comes out and tries to convince VC’s that someone wants to buy it.  It would be interesting for someone to launch a Web site for something, start taking orders, then call a VC and say, "We have 100,000 customers who want to by our thingamajiggers for $50 each.  Now we need $2 Million to make them."  

I’ll let you enjoy the whole article, because it’s quite interesting.   


Social Media 101

So, it’s hard to explain Social Media.  Someone writes a blog post, other people comment on it, and it really doesn’t matter, right?

Well, let me introduce you to a man apparently ignorant in the ways of Social Media, or a fictional character that has brought satirical humor and joy to thousands of TechCrunch readers. 

The short version of the story: Richard Figueroa, a little nobody hack photographer in Alabama tries to threaten Michael Arrington, Founder of Techcrunch, with a frivolous lawsuit.  Arrington, as he has previously done in cases like this, posts the letter on his Web site where his hundreds of thousands of readers per day could laugh at it.  What follows is a back and forth banter in the comments section that proves some man named "Richard" to be an incompetent, illiterate dunce. 

Or perhaps, a competitor of Richard’s in Alabama has brilliantly used Social Media to sabotage poor Mr. Figueroa.

Or even, this could be a comedy routine in which some Valleywag guy wants to make Alabama residents look like idiots, and has elaborately created some bumpkin named Richard Figueroa.

Whatever it is, it proves that Social Media and strong communities have loud voices.  Undertsand this medium, before you are trying to defend your mistakes.  

Check out this story, and see what lessons are to be learned.