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.

Quick and Dirty Tactics for Video Optimization and SEO

Blending listings from news, images, video, local listings and book search engines, Universal Search from Google will be delivering video more often to the top spots. There are steps to take when thinking about marketing video online, which extends a lot further than just creating a channel on YouTube.

Basic SEO tactics still apply – video optimization really uses mainstream search optimization

Write a relevant, but catchy, video title: Use related key phrases that is relevant to your product, service or brand.

Optimize with tags: Tag your video with key phrases that people are likely to use or based on keyword research. No need to hold back on tags.

Don’t forget your video file name and meta description: Use keywords in your video file name. And don’t forget your thumbnails too.

Develop inbound and cross links: Use keywords as anchor text to link to your video from other areas of your site.

Provide transcripts: This may be difficult to put right on the page, but you could provide an outline of the transcript with the option to download the full version. This helps optimize the copy on the page.

Video best practices help with marketing and SEO

Keep videos short: Rule of thumb is five minutes max online. 1-3 minute segments is better. If it’s a longer segment, break it out into multiple clips. Use good titles and tags, and provide thumbnails for each segment with descriptive highlights. It’s easier for users to pick up where they left off without having to go back to the beginning. Also it offers the opportunity to use more keywords, and helps when users are viewing video on mobile devices.

Use video as an entry point to your other content: Post videos on YouTube, vMix, FaceBook, etc. to provide links back to your site and other content.

YouTube it: YouTube own more than half of all video traffic online. If you post to any user-generated video site make it YouTube. Video search engines are already there, including Google.

Try the Google Video Upload Program: it’s a great tool to upload batch video.

Provide a video sitemap.

Syndicate your video with RSS: Use a publishing tool that supports a Media RSS output, and the optional Media RSS enclosures related to SEO. The most important fields for optimizing video data are the title, description, and keywords.

Offer social bookmarking tools: Provide icons and options to digg, StumbleUpon, delicious, technorati (for blogs), Facebook, etc.

Be viral: Provide the option for users to embed the video code onto their own site.

Brand your video: You’re going through the trouble of creating the video and syndicating it, make it yours and put your logo on it.

Allow comments AND ratings: Videos that receive higher ratings from users are the ones that users tend to favorite and save.

Measurement – who is watching your video and how often?

Now that your video is well-optimized, it’s time to do some tracking. Segments you want to measure for video activity include:

– Overall and individual time spent
– Most watched videos
– Videos with both the highest conversion rate (call-to-action) and the highest abandonment rate
– Failure rates (number of people who could not open the video in their browser)
– If you capture ratings and comments, include the most popular videos with the most feedback.

If you can, create a special section for your video content (subdomain, video site map, video archive on your site, etc.), in order to track how many people are watching your videos. Any web analytics software package can measure this, including Google Analytics. And ifyou use FeedBurner for RSS, it offers trackable items the free package, including measuring total subscribers and total downloads.

Need more? Check out other these sources:

SearchEngineWatch.com

BruceClay.com

SEO-Space.com

SearchEngineLand.com

There are many more, please share.

How to Be Creative and the Social Objects That Get People Talking

Many folks know I come from a creative background, I studied painting in college, and first got into marketing via graphic design (back when it was called “desktop publishing”). So when I came across this blog post by Hugh MacLeod on how to be creative, of course I stopped and pondered a bit. First, I thought there was a bit of irony that there’s an organized list on how to be creative. But I liked the list, so I’m posting it here. But take a look at the last item when you get to the end of the list:

So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years:

1. Ignore everybody.

2. The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours.

3. Put the hours in.

4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being “discovered” by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

5. You are responsible for your own experience.

6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

7. Keep your day job.

8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

11. Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

13. Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.

14. Dying young is overrated.

15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.

16. The world is changing.

17. Merit can be bought. Passion can’t.

18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

19. Sing in your own voice.

20. The choice of media is irrelevant.

21. Selling out is harder than it looks.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

23. Worrying about “Commercial vs. Artistic” is a complete waste of time.

24. Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.

25. You have to find your own schtick.

26. Write from the heart.

27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

28. Power is never given. Power is taken.

29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.

30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

31. Remain frugal.

32. Allow your work to age with you.

33. Being Poor Sucks.

34. Beware of turning hobbies into jobs.

35. Savor obscurity while it lasts.

36. Start blogging.

Uh, start blogging?

Well, his point is that blogs help make things happen indirectly. In a world driven by statistics and ROI, blogging can be a creative marketing tool, you just need the time. And eventually, if done well, your blog, or product, will become the “Social Object” – the reason people talk to each other in the first place. And then – voila – the “Social Object” becomes a “node” of your social network.

I think what I like the most is his approach: blog for yourself. I’ve found blogging a daunting task, although I really want to keep up with it. Why? It’s because I think people care, and so it has to be perfectly informative and useful. I don’t want to embarrass myself. But if I remember these tips on How to Be Creative, it really shouldn’t matter, right?

Anyway, it’s heady stuff, and I find it fascinating, and intend to keep plowing through.