Posts Tagged ‘viral content’

Giving Thanks To The Net

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Tomorrow is Turkey Day. A day given to reflection and thought and thanks for what we hold dear in our lives. Looking back on my Thanksgivings of the past, I can see the progression of computers and the net as they have woven their way into our society.

Our family used to wander over to partake of the stuffed bird feast with some friends. We’d take our computers and laptops and hook up a maze of wires that put each one in communication with the others. It would often take a couple of hours to get things right, with every electronic box talking to each other, but we didn’t care – we were in Geekdom Heaven.

We’d then play the newly minted StarCraft, filling the room with shouts and evil laughter while my husband and the lady of that house filled the air with the tantalizing aroma of roasted bird.

As we moved into the internet age, our game days went by the wayside. Instead, a home video filmed with a bulky, heavy camera, made a very early YouTube debut. It featured me dropping the bird on the kitchen floor after thoughtlessly plunging my hand into it’s nether regions as I removed it from the oven.

My diabolical offspring discovered the joys of viral video sharing with that little escapade just a few months after YouTube had been born. True to the genes I passed on to them, they also posted it to Google Video and a few other sites that no longer exist to see if they could get the view count up, and maybe get ranked for a few key phrases.

They were awed by the power of the net, watching the stats climb as those few moments of infamy became one of the first YouTube viral videos. And yes, they did get rankings for “stuffed turkey accident” and a couple of other Thanksgiving terms.

Seeking to repeat their success the next Thanksgiving, that camera was everywhere. Fortunately, even though there was a filmed incident that I will not describe here, other netizens had discovered the power of viral video. They flooded the net with exploding turkeys, live turkeys dressed in pilgrim outfits, turkeys chasing axe wielding humans, and many other funny, silly or downright stupid turkey tricks. Thus the previous year’s success was not repeated due to much heavier competition. That was something I was VERY thankful for!.

This year I will spend some time with my kids and friends. Even though we all can’t be together in the same room, we will be sharing the same online experience. We’ll be in a voice chat, playing some sort of online game as we catch up. We’ll talk marketing, and seo, and business startups and hardware advances for several hours before sitting down to our respective tables.

We’ll compare notes about online sales at Amazon and NewEgg. We’ll laugh about the “old days” as we auto connect to our wireless networks. Urls for favorite sites will be passed back and forth. We’ll compare site visitor stats and bounce rates and discuss how current events are affecting sales in our respective industries.

And when I sit down to give thanks for what I have, I’ll thank the technology and constant innovation that have made my Thanksgivings joyful memories for so many years. No matter how far flung my family and friends may be, they are as close as my mouse and my monitor thanks to the online world we live in.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Achieving Viral Content

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

In the last episode of “SEO Land” we discussed the true meaning of the phrase “viral content” and why it was important to have visitors talking to others about your site. Just as an aside here, did you know that women speak to almost 20 more people a day, on average, than men do? Seems to me that if you had a group of women passing your link around you could have instant virality.

The big question is – how do you create viral content? It’s not that difficult and you don’t have to drag a bunch of cute, cuddly animals onto your website. Remember we want to get the content talked about, not necessarily get 1 million YouTube views. While a cat playing the piano is a sure hit, it probably has nothing to do with your business unless you’re a piano tuner.

Number one – create a blog. A blog is a wonderful thing. It serves many purposes, both in SEO Land and as a source of viral content. If you think you can’t write, you’re probably wrong. You should be able to put your thoughts, feelings, tricks and tips into some semblance of written order. You don’t have to post every day, and your posts don’t have to be lengthy.

They do have to connect with the reader and be more than a “puff” piece or a restatement of company policy. There’s a reason people don’t read T&C’s or Privacy statements – they’re boring. They’re pretty much all the same. You won’t see them on Facebook or being re-Tweeted. Unless you ARE  Facebook and you’ve changed privacy controls for the third time in a month and stirred up a firestorm yet again.

That brings us to one of the most overlooked elements of viral content – controversy. No matter what industry you are in, there are controversial issues surrounding it. Nothing gets passed around as quickly as content links that address industry headlines. My dad always told me to stay out of discussions about religion and politics, and in the world of social media and blogging, that holds true, too. But a well reasoned post about industry events is always a good way to be noticed and “passed around”.

Whether it’s your blog or your website, have something useful. Tips, how to’s, widgets, a good collection of useful links – these are all ways to get your site frequent repeat visitors. Did you know that the phrase “how do I” is used more often in search than any other?

If your site has the answer to “How do I…?” your url will get passed around and bookmarked more than your competitors. I have a special bookmark section that answers my most frequent questions. Things like conversion calculators – how many feet make 15 meters? BMI calculators – how tall do I have to be to support the weight I’ve gained sitting in this computer chair?  Financial calculators, a cool site that lists all the codecs for video encoding, another one that gives  a short description of CSS tags, and many more.

If you can answer the “How” or “What” or “Why” questions for your industry, do it! Set up a reference area on your site, or blog about it. Keep it simple – an ordered list of how to do something step by step. Or what to do for XYZ. Become a one stop shop for YOUR industry and your site and it’s content will become viral.

We can’t mention viral content without talking video. And with video the same points apply. Don’t just do a “look at how wonderful my product or service is” video. SHOW people how to use it! Tell viewers how to do something and they will watch.

If you can come up with a creative way of using your product – do it. The single most watched product videos are the “Will It Blend?” series from Blendtec. They are irreverent,  silly, hilarious at times and have been featured on every major news site on the net.

Think bloopers. Is there something that shouldn’t be done with your product? If it won’t create a safety hazard – do it! With the camera rolling. When you make people laugh, they remember you. They feel warm and fuzzy. And then they open their wallets. Because they feel a connection with you, when you have ENGAGED them.

These are just a few ideas to get your viral content ball rolling. Look at your industry and start thinking about how YOU can stand out from the crowd. What YOU can do for your customer above and beyond what your competition is doing. And pretty soon you will be saying “They like me! They REALLY like me!” as those talkative women begin telling the 28 people they converse with every day about your company, your site, and your content.

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SEO and Viral Content

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Have you ever looked at a video on YouTube and seen views over 1 million, or even over 2 or 3 million? If you’re a red blooded marketing person you probably drooled as your eyes turned glassy dreaming about that many visitors.

You will hear internet marketers promoting software or programs or techniques that will give you viral content. But you will NEVER see numbers even close to 10,000 by using any of these “tricks”.  You see, these techniques forget a very important fact about content.  The content has to be something someone actually wants to watch/read/listen to.

One of the masters of the viral content game is OK Go.  Their latest video features a choreographed dance with dogs. More than 6.5 million people have watched it on YouTube.

According to Ok Go’s lead singer Damian Kulash, “Content succeeds online,” he said, “because it brings people joy, it makes them smile — it’s interesting enough to be passed along to friends and family members. That’s no stunt,” he said, “it’s just a matter of making something that’s genuine and interesting.”

There’s no amount of savvy or gaming the system that is going to make people like things that are not likable.

We can expand that last statement  (which completely explains why all those programs and techniques won’t work) to read “There’s no amount of savvy or gaming the system that is going to make people like things that are not likable or useful.

Here’s the thing about the net – it’s built around people. Long ago the page rank of a site was an indicator of how many other sites found the content likable and useful. But guess what? Things have changed. Now actual real people “like” content and share it with friends, colleagues, and family. Social has overtaken the net and people, not sites, determine who has the best content. (Which is why page rank doesn’t matter nearly as much as it once did.)

Take a good hard look at your content. Does it talk about you? How great and good and wonderful you are? Be objective – is that content anyone wants to spread to their circle of people? Probably not, unless you have one of those foot long gold statues that are given out at awards ceremonies in Hollywood.

What is your content doing for your visitors? Is it educating them? Is it answering questions for them? Is it making their lives easier? Is it entertaining them?

Are you providing a place for lively discussion of ideas on your Facebook page, your blog, or your forum? Have you built into your site or your social media efforts an engine that will allow more and more content to be built up over time? A repository of useful information in your field?

Or is your site like the millions of others on the net –

  • page one – welcome to my site
  • pages two through 1000 – here are my great products with a one line description and a fuzzy, out of focus product image
  • page three – all about me
  • page four – contact me

This yawner formula is certain to make you a part of the thundering herd of similar sites and prevent you from ever “going viral”.

You see what works on YouTube – the basics – entertain, impart USEFUL knowledge, provide LIKABLE content, works with search engines as well as with people. The more likable content you have, the more the engines will visit and the higher you will climb in the rankings, bringing more and more visitors to your site. Those visitors are asked a ton of questions every single day that begin with “Where do I find…”

This is what viral truly means. When the answer to that question is YOUR site, and YOUR URL gets passed around in FaceBook, Twitter, eMail, and Smart Phone conversations – you’ve GONE VIRAL.

Your site will never achieve the Holy Grail of Viralizm unless you have that likable content in place.

How do you create likable content? Stay tuned and tomorrow I’ll go into the nuts and bolts of how to create that likable content.

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