Monica Wright: Certified Viral Marketing Scientist

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By Dan Zarrella

What is Viral Marketing Science?

It is most efficacious to look at social and viral marketing on a campaign level, evaluating viral marketing campaigns as a whole instead of each individual component. Viral marketing science is all about figuring out what and how things spread, as opposed to the more general “how communities interact online,” and so the science comes in when various elements are interacting with each other and with the audience.

It is important to note that this does not mean that viral marketing is purely tactical; on the contrary, there is a great deal of strategy present in how these campaigns fit into a brand’s overall marketing mix. The science is in hitting the sweet spot between viral tactical elements and overarching marketing strategy.

The fields viral marketing most commonly draws from include sociology, neurology, statistics, history, psychology (especially evolutionary), economics, biology and memetics. Metaphors and epidemiology models or terms also serve as useful tools when communicating about viral marketing, as these are much more commonly understood.

Much of the information currently available about social and viral marketing is comprised of two distinct types: conjecture-driven and data-driven. The former is the majority, a formulation of advice based on anecdotal evidence and “what seems right.” Work with multivariate testing, combined with research from The Tipping Point and Freakonomics, has shown that the actual data often disproves the conclusions drawn purely from gut-feelings. Recent efforts have focused on creating content that is backed by facts, not feelings, and falls into the data-driven bucket. This is called viral marketing science.

One of the first literary works to expose the potential power of scientific viral marketing was, surprisingly, a work of fiction: Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. In it, the villain creates a biolingusitic virus based on a prototypical, brain-stem related Sumerian language. He uses the virus to practically enslave a large segment of people in a world domination plot.

There is also room for art in viral marketing; the creativity, intuition and improvisation involved in a successful campaign often come from a deep understanding of the data involved. But the brute creative genius most people assume is the core of contagious campaigns can make the entire exercise seem like entirely unpredictable black magic. However, using scientific methods, it is possible for mere mortals to create repeatably viral campaigns.

“Don’t Vote” Tag 5 Friends Video Meme

I was recently tagged by Todd Friesen (who just recently moved to the U.S. from Canada) in Google’s “Don’t Vote” meme to get people to register to vote. Matt Cutts got the ball rolling initially – the idea is to tag 5 people to get them to register, and then pass it along. So I’m tagging 5 people, and they better do the same.

Shannon Bryan: because he likes the word “meme”, has a crush on Obama, and moved to Portland recently so not sure if she’s registered.

Tim Wright: because he should really post this on the Coast site. And start Twittering already.

Vicki Frost: because she’s related to a good portion of Ohio.

Eric Lander: because, well, he seems popular. And likes waffles. And Zima (possibly).

Casey Yandle: because the guy is always on Twitter, and will get the word out (if he hasn’t already).

I can think of dozens of more people, and it’s not that I don’t love you. I just need to follow directions and go with 5.

So don’t be a moron. Go vote, this is our chance to make the world a better place. With the chaos that’s happening these days, you really cannot afford to lose this opportunity. And it is an opportunity, there are thousands of people in this country who can’t vote. Everyone has an opinion and a stake in this election, so get informed, and go vote.

I was an Age of Conversation Contributor and Didn’t Even Know It

This is a short post about social media going full circle. Not about long lost relatives, or high school buddies, but a story about social network and social media and why people should just get it.

This morning I checked my email to find a LinkedIn request from Jay Ehret. I don’t know Jay Ehret, but thanks to LinkedIn they require a little information to invite connections. According to Jay, I was a “Business Partner” (more like contributor) to the new Age of Conversation book coming out later this year. This is not completely out of the blue, a few months ago I did contact the editors about contributing, but never heard back. In the meantime, I changed jobs — alas, email — and assumed they found better, more qualified, more enlightening contributors than I could ever be.

But wait, there’s this random guy who said I am. So I did a little research, and found my name on a list of 275 people.

So I contacted Drew and Gavin, hoping it’s not too late to provide a chapter for the new 2008 edition of “Age of Conversation: Why Don’t People Get It?”. Of course it is, they’ve tried contacting me at MaineToday.com and never heard from me. Darn. Maybe next year.

But the point — social media was used to connect with me about writing about social media. Even better, the premise of the book is that people don’t get it. What’s not to get? Here’s your example.

And I’m still going to get the book.