Tag Archives: Viral effects

Online peer influence and its effect on engagement

Image credit: Flickr

imageMarketers try to work out how social interaction and its effect on uses and consumers behaviour and spend lots of time trying to thrash through their social analytics and metrics to try to find the cause of this behaviour.

How does one peer influence another?  How do we capitalise on peer influence and use it to our advantage?  how do we make a campaign go viral?

If you think about all of the digital traces, we’re leaving every day. Think of the amount of data we’re leaving as our digital fingerprint.  Digital traces all waiting to be analysed.  we’re signalling our behaviour on a world wide scale.  Every status we like on Facebook, Every link we share on Twitter leaves a trace of our desires, wants, needs and moods.  Its an amazing digital map of how we behave online. 

Imagine if there was a program that was able to mine all of this data. and understand who influences us in our lives.  To understand how peer influence works.  An influencer to one person might not necessarily be an influencer to another person.  how do we capture this data and more importantly, how do we use this to our advantage

Identifying the cause of the peer effect is difficult.  What influences me at the moment might not necessarily influence me in a few months time.  The latest fad now, might be old hat in a few months. How do I grow and more importantly maintain my list of influencers?  how do I get them to influence their friends?  Influencing the influencers doesn’t necessarily cause them to influence others.  How do I get my message to spread effectively?

Identifying what causes peer influence is difficult.

European Starlings in the evenings flock together and cause amazing patterns in the sky, giving weight to the adage that birds of a feather flock together.  This could also be said of the theory that having fat friends is more likely to make you fat.   We tend to identify more strongly with people like us.  We love those who are like ourselves.  We identify with them.

Is social commerce more engaging that commerce alone?  Consumers shop for, and are persuaded what to buy by the influence of their friends.  How does this work?

    • Friends buy something (depending on the type of consumer they are)
    • They talk to their friends and influence them to purchase
    • Their friends talk to their friends and they buy. 

This last point is an example of 3rd tier influence.  And this 3rd tier has the potential to become viral depending on how influential you are, the product itself, its topicality, its usefulness, or its unexpectedness.  Your initial purchase has got the potential to go viral.  Think about Crocs shoes.  Think about those key rings that chirped when you whistled.  The unexpected can go viral. 

So how do you get your message out so that it does take advantage of the peer influence effect?  Should you use a passive broadcast or an active broadcast.

    • Active broadcasts are more personalised:  They resonate with the strong ties in your network.  The fact that the message resonates is similar to the birds flocking together analogy. We like this because we are similar to you. 
    • Active broadcasts encourage reciprocity: I have personally recommended this to you. You are more likely to recommend this to someone else because you trust me
    • Personalised broadcasts are more persuasive:  I trust this information because its from one of my trusted advisors.
    • Active broadcasts creates sustained engagement: this is because you have personally recommended this to a friend
    • Passive broadcasts are less persuasive: But passive broadcasts can potentially reach more people due to their less targeted approach



Image credit:  Aral, Sinan and Walker, Dylan, Creating Social Contagion Through Viral Product Design: A Randomized Trial of Peer Influence in Networks (November 30, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1564856

Facebook is an amazing place to study peer influence and the knowledge it has about users likes, loves, shares and behaviour is something that Google can never hope to achieve even with its +1 button.  You can analyse peer influence in your own Facebook social graph.  Share a link and note the people who forward different types of links to their networks.  You’ll notice that there are different types of people who are influenced.

According to Sinan Aral at MIT peoples relationship status also determines their susceptibility to being influenced:

    • Single people are 20% more likely to be influenced
    • People ‘in a relationship’ are 50% more likely to be influenced
    • People who are ‘Engaged’ are 60% more susceptible to influence
    • People who are ‘Married’ are 13% more susceptible to influence
    • People who state their relationship is ‘it’s complicated’ are 90% more susceptible

You’ve also got to think of the cost of spamming people and weighing this up against the effects on long term engagement when you consider influence.  If you want your campaign to go viral, there are more things to think about than just a cool video or interesting graphics.  Adding a feature to make it go viral, may just be the additional feature you need.  O2 in the UK managed this with their singing squirrel which appeared in other O2 videos but achieved far more hits virally without any mention of the brand.

Perhaps its just luck after all… Smile



Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

10 tips to get a campaign to go viral

imageCustomers pay agencies to create campaigns and their brief is to get these campaigns to go viral and get everyone talking.  Think about the Old Spice video that gained phenomenal views, interaction and sales after its launch at the Superbowl last year? Remember too – the Evian video with roller-skating babies? All were very successful for the brand resulting in increased awareness, impressions and sales.

Marketers want to create compelling and original content that goes viral.  The most successful campaigns have been with video and interactive campaigns.  With marketers getting clever with their online ad placements, the cost of getting wider coverage for your video based campaign is going to come down.  Videos are shared across Facebook and Twitter, mentioned on blogs and added to emails. The challenge is getting the video to go viral in the first place.

Well there is NO guaranteed way to get a video or any other content to go viral, but based on some of the best viral campaigns, I’ve seen, here are some tips to try to get your campaign video to go viral:

      • Seeding.  Don’t just use YouTube for your campaign.  Seed your video in other places where it will be picked up by other online viewers.  There are many different video hosting platforms – more than just Vimeo. 
      • Emotional.  Tap into peoples emotions.  Whether it’s cute babiesamazing achievements, human discomfort or erotic imagery, remember to make the emotional connection
      • Sex sells (see the Kylie Minogue video which was banned for being too raunchy.  It got great visibility for Agent Provocateur
      • Put the user in control.  Remember Subservient chicken, Elf Yourself or Tippex?  All of these involved audience participation.  You told the chicken what to do.  You determined whether the hunter shoots a bear, or dances with it.  You created those dancing Elves.  It was fun. you passed it on to your friends and they passed it on to their friends.
      • Have strong visualsThe Dove Campaign for real beauty was used as an example of how distorted our perceptions of the beauty industry have become.
      • Give it a catchy tune.  The United breaks guitars video went viral very quickly due to its song.  Think how many other songs stick in your brain – even when you don’t want them too
      • Make it amazing.  The Will it Blend videos have increased the company profits fivefold and made an unlikely superstar out of the CEO
      • Make it realistic.  T-mobile have a channel in which almost every video goes viral.  From the images of the Royal Wedding party dancing to singing to passengers arriving at Terminal 5, they’ve got lots of the elements to make their videos go viral.
      • Give focus.  This Transport for London video urging people to look out for cyclists certainly made people look again.
      • Consider Multiple formats.  The Compare the market campaign and the Cravendale milk campaign both have a co-ordinated TV, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook presence. This gives as wide as possible visibility to the campaign and ensures sharing across all the different media formats.

Don’t forget to hire a set of talented, creative, innovative and resourceful people on your team who are flexible and adaptable.  And be prepared to spend your budget to get a quality end product. But most of all – don’t forget to measure, measure and measure your success…


Connecting with customers at Hard Rock

I’ve never had a speakers shirt that is – well – this cool…

hard rock 1

I’m in Orlando for the weekend.   Yes, that’s right.  The weekend.  I’m delivering the keynote at the Hard Rock hotel for the world wide sales and marketing conference.  I’ve been asked to speak about connecting to your customers using Social Media from a European perspective.  After all, I’ve worked for an international brand for a long time, and I bring an external (non US centric) point of view to a global company with a really strong brand identity.

So what am I going to talk about?

I’ll talk about age profiles and how the redefinition of the web has changed consumer spending – especially amongst Generation Y.  I’ll talk about age profiles and the sort of customers that are lovers of Hard Rock.  I’ll talk about their amazing set of Influencers – not influencers as we’d think of in the techy world, but those influencers who are really knowledgeable about the memorabilia and the pin collectors who scour eBay and other sales sites for collectors pieces.

Hard Rock has lots of pins.  Lots.  They sell a huge amount of pins each year.  And there are collectors of pins who go to pin conventions to trade rare pins.  They are really influential at getting people excited about the brand.  I’ll talk about some suggested strategies to bring these influencers closer to the brand – so they can become brand advocates and defenders.  They can then reach out beyond their immediate fans to reach a whole new generation of new fans.

I’ll talk about the amazing opportunity that mobility brings to brands.  in the US, when you check in to a place on 4sq, you can get vouchers from the vendor.  But if vouchers aren’t available in your local country, there are still lots of other opportunities for you to take advantage of the mobile opportunity and the rise in geolocation aware applications will bring a whole new raft of opportunities as companies take advantage of this throughout the world. 

I’ll talk about creating buzz and making things viral, I’ll probably demo my new favourite viral ad – the Tippex one, with another couple of examples showing where companies have created massive buzz with their campaigns.

And then I’ll drive to the airport for my flight home.  I’ll have been in the US for less than 48 hours in total.  Just like a rock chick on tour. Wow

And I shall wear my speaker shirt all the way home, grinning like crazy at my hectic weekend.

Life is good :)

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They do *what* with a bear?

This is a really great video from Tippex which is going to go viral and big. There are echoes of Burger King’s Subservient Chicken in the concept but still, it’s a really compelling concept and cleverly done.  All of the videos are on YouTube itself and if you search for “A hunter shoots a bear” into YouTube, (or click this link) you’ll get to the first video in the sequence


What is great about this, is that the brand is clearly connected to the video, there is community action and  brand response.  It’s slicker than the annual Elf Yourself viral ad campaign which ‘Elfed’ over 123 million faces, it has clever concept and brings the brand out of the page  (well out of the YouTube video frame anyway).

I’ll be watching this with interest to see how far this runs. 

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Value or Rubbish? Implode or Explode? You decide

I’ve seen a few interesting posts on blogs and on Twitter complaining about how social media and especially Twitter is filled with rubbish and is stupid, that the whole social media storm is going to implode on itself (it won’t.  It will just settle into a set of normalised patterns).  There are also some who complain that the aggregators I talked about yesterday are just spam or just a waste of time

image But for those of us who like to consume news in bite sized, or should it be byte sized chunks, feel Twitter is ideal for them.  The sheer volume of social media messages, and the ability to cause an incredible impact.

Jon’s post today has a staggering set of statistics about the number of Google searches, YouTube views and news articles about the woman who callously put a cat in a wheelie bin.  An explosion of indignation about this dreadful act of cruelty to a friendly animal.

This story exploded within a few hours and is another example of the incredible outreach of a media story.  Remember the buzz that was created the other week by the girl who “quit her job” – and who now finds herself very much in the spotlight and the subject of a lot of attention.

With so much information flying around, and more and more companies wanting to know how to properly engage on Twitter and other social networking sites, being part of the conversation is more and more important.

Managing your time, managing your feeds and managing your information will become more and more important as we use more mechanisms to communicate with our connections without becoming addicted.

Like it or not, Twitter and Facebook have become part of the fabric of our lives.  We now need to learn how to manage them effectively so that they complement and not consume our lives.

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The viral speed of a mouse click

I’ve been watching the propagation of the latest viral blog post as it whizzes around the internet.  The story which was published today, talks about how a girl resigns by telling a story on a dry erase board.


The first comment was added to the blog 5 hours ago.  when I first saw the post it had 5,915 fans on Facebook.  In the last 2 minutes – when Facebook had 29,490 ‘Likes’ since I’ve been writing this post, another 1500 Facebook users have clicked the ‘like’ button.  I’ve seen this several times on my Facebook feed as my Facebook friends have shared the link with their friends.  Twitter has gone crazy with retweets, and the comments on the blog have increased by 20 since I started to write this post.  The web site itself is as slow as

For  a piece of content to turn viral, it needs to be compelling and unique.  It will propagate all on it’s own and reach places you never imagined. 

And now I’ve finished typing – which has taken me about 10 minutes in total, there are now 33,520 Facebook ‘Likes’ which shows the amazing speed of a mouse click in turning something interesting into a viral sensation.

Amazing.  I hope she is inundated with job offers.  What a brilliant way to resign

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