I attended what apparently was a Guinness World Record setting webinar – “The Science of Social Media” conducted by Dan Zarrella from Hubspot. 30k people registered for the event and I believe 5k attended. Here are the recording and slides in case you are interested in viewing it yourself.
What was great about this webinar was that while Social Media workshops give you the typical tips (referred to as “Rainbows” & “Unicorns” by Dan) like “engage your members” or “love your fans”, Dan actually had data supporting his claims and recommendations and data even disproving some common myths. While he does bring up a lot of “correlations” and not so much “causations” (so we cant really say that implementing his tips will directly result in, say, more exposure or reach) they are still important points to consider.
Some Key Points:
- Myth: Ideas spread because they are good. Some ideas are bad and they spread (Rebecca Black’s “Friday” being an example) and some are good but go no where (can’t think of any examples here ). There are other factors involved in spreading an idea, which he gets into later when he talks about “contagiousness”.
- Myth: Viral growth is an exponential pyramid. According to Dan’s data on examples of viral growth, an idea may start slow, but there are usually key moments where an idea is exposed by the right people or “influencers”, resulting in it going viral. Then, the idea eventually dies out. This is opposed to the typical “first day one person shares to 2 people, second day those people share” pyramid.
- Contagiousness. In order for an idea to be contagious, the following 3 pillars need to be established: EXPOSURE + ATTENTION + MOTIVATION
It’s really important to have as much exposure as possible, a large REACH – followers, email subscribers, Facebook likes, etc. If you don’t, it’s important to do your best to connect with an influencer who does (but here’s an instance of chicken and egg, because he states to increase your chances of getting an influencer to follow you, you need to increase your followers).
- Myth: Engaging in the conversation builds reach. He’s not saying engagement isn’t important – this builds rapport, customer loyalty, etc. However, it doesn’t directly increase reach. According to his data, twitter accounts with over 1 million followers were less conversational than accounts with less. (I would question if these accounts were conversational before they got too big to respond to their followers, or even feel the need to respond).
- Valuable content! According to his data, accounts that pushed valuable content and links had more followers than conversational accounts.
- Myth: Don’t call yourself a guru. While it may seem pretentious, there is a correlation between accounts that make claims authoritative claims and having more followers. He recommends to use authoritative titles like “Official”, “Expert”, “Author”, “Founder”, etc. I have to admit, when I read a Twitter bio, I am usually duped by titles like this, only to be surprised when I found the “CEO and founder of x company” has only 10 followers. While the pretentiousness here correlates with having more followers, constantly emphasizing your authority in your content may result in the opposite.
- Positivity. Positive users have more followers than those that are always negative. People come on Social Networks to be happy.
The human brain takes in so much information per second but can only process so much. Thus, it is wired to filter what’s important to it. That’s how a lot of advertising or ideas get ignored. You need to have an idea or service that triggers followers to put you in the “relevant” category and avoid being filtered.
- More tweets per hour = lower CTR. Don’t crowd yourself out. Tweet maybe once an hour, give it time to breathe and allow people to read it. If you tweet too much too close together, that’s one way to get ignored.
- Myth: Friday, Sat, Sunday are bad days to publish. Since less people are publishing these days, theres less garbage to filter from. Emails have higher CTRs on Sat and Sun. Facebook sharing have more shares on Sat/Sun.
- Experiment. Don’t take anyone’s word for it – always experiment to see what works for you.
This is the difficult part. While one may be interested in viewing your post, to be really contagious, your idea/post needs to be interesting enough to motivate it being shared.
- Information Voids. Find out what people want or are looking for, and create content that answers those questions. You can search for questions on twitter.
- New Information. People want to share what’s interesting and new, not something that has been shared 1000 times and that everyone already knows.
- Simple language. Write simply and plainly as not to lose readers. Writing less and being more engaging is actually harder than writing more.
- Request explicitly to share. Data suggests that actually asking readers to retweet, repost, or share makes your post 4 times more likely to be shared. Sometimes, your readers may not actually think to share, and simply asking them will trigger that since they already have rapport with you.