Creating The Web 2 0 Buzz Beyond Search Engine Optimization

Creating The Web 2 0 Buzz Beyond Search Engine Optimization


Any discussion of​ viral marketing brings up two authors - Malcom Gladwell, "The Tipping Point" and​ Seth Godin, "Unleasing the​ Idea Virus". Really, these authors are incredible thinkers - you should seek out and​ buy their books, read them for​ yourself to​ get the​ most out of​ them. But I'm not so in​ love with their books that I let them go on all points

Let's take Tipping Point first.

Gladwell is​ talking about social epidemics. While some of​ this is​ applicable to​ marketing, his book is​ mostly applicable to​ the​ society and​ social interactions.

Viruses all go past a​ point of​ no return. This is​ where they have gotten a​ large enough base where the​ majority become infected. This is​ the​ point of​ critical mass, the​ threshold, the​ tipping point.

Ideas and​ products and​ messages and​ behaviors spread just like viruses do.

We are living in​ a​ philosopher's paradise. Ideas can now be spread and​ influence people without physical limits. and​ the​ best ideas act like mercury - very hard to​ corral and​ control. the​ finest ideas are the​ universal solvant - unable to​ be held in​ any container except itself.

The tipping point is​ when an​ illness of​ a​ few becomes the​ epidemic of​ the​ many, the​ moment of​ change where a​ minor occurance becomes a​ major trend.

Epidemics have an​ exponential (bell curve) life span. This is​ the​ same life span of​ trends and​ fads. "The Tipping Point" studies the​ upslope of​ that Bell Curve progression.

THE LAW of​ the​ FEW

Word of​ mouth is​ still the​ most important form of​ human communication. Rumors are the​ most contagious of​ all social messages.

A tiny minority of​ people create the​ surge which tips the​ epidemic. Gladwell names three necessary types:

are people specialists. They know lots of​ people, have an​ extraordinary knack of​ making friends and​ acquaintances, of​ making social connections. They have mastered the​ "weak tie"; a​ friendly, yet casual social connection. They manage to​ occupy many different cultures and​ subcultures and​ niches. They spread the​ message

are information specialists. Once they figure out how to​ get that great deal, they want to​ tell you about it​ too.
They solve their own problems, or​ emotional needs, by solving other people's problems. They provide the​ message.

have the​ skills to​ persuade when we are unconvinced of​ what we are hearing. They translate and​ communicate via the​ nonverbal and​ are practically more charismatic than those around them. Emotion is​ contagious. "Senders" are very good at​ expressing emotions and​ feelings. They are far more emotionally contagious than the​ rest of​ us.

Another point, which gives us all hope as​ marketers, is​ that any of​ us are connected to​ the​ rest of​ us by six or​ fewer other people. So any of​ us could create the​ next "big thing" which goes epidemic.


Messages have to​ be packaged and​ translated into a​ way that fits into our emotional makeup. Those we adopt into our lifestyle are "sticky".

The multiplicity of​ messages through the​ Internet is​ both a​ blessing and​ a​ curse. But it​ only works if​ you surround yourself with your own niche. for​ everyone is​ a​ niche unto themselves. Now they may have and​ be part of​ greater and​ lesser networks - replete with mavens, connectors, and​ salesmen - but you really still have to​ be true to​ yourself.

That being said, you are free to​ adopt any new message that comes along which improves your quality of​ life.

Now, from the​ reverse view, in​ marketing you are trying to​ get out your message that you have a​ widely applicable solution to​ a​ fairly (or very) common problem. and​ that this solution is​ readily available.

There is​ a​ simple way to​ package information that, under the​ right circumstances, can make it​ irresistible/sticky and​ compels a​ person into action. All you have to​ do is​ find it. in​ order to​ be capable of​ sparking epidemics, ideas have to​ be memorable and​ move us into action. Content of​ the​ message matters too.

The key point where a​ new message "sticks" with us is​ where it​ is​ translated into an​ emotionally useful tool. a​ message is​ converted to​ a​ package which is​ then translated by a​ "salesman" so that we can emotionally "grok" what is​ coming our way, accept it, and​ use it. (Note: the​ word "grok" comes from a​ viral product, Heinlein's "Stranger in​ a​ Strange Land". Worth looking up.)

A very few individuals can control their emotional states. This takes quite a​ bit of​ personal training (which anyone, actually, can master on their own). We respond to​ the​ emotions of​ people around us. Practically, studies have been done which show what we hear and​ say are a​ small percentage of​ the​ communications we actually recieve. Gladwell's book mentions several examples and​ studies of​ this area.

When you get a​ point across emotionally, you can appeal to​ the​ subconscious and​ activate patterns and​ habits the​ individual may not even know are there. This is​ what Madison Avenue has paid psychologists to​ study for​ years. They want to​ (hopefully, but in​ vain) find key push-buttons which will make selling easier. Push-button societies went out with the​ Internet's rise.

There are really only a​ handful of​ "buttons" which work in​ very general terms. Ciladini and​ Maslov have working observations along this line - as​ I've covered elsewhere in​ this book.

Otherwise, our emotions are like our politics. (And just review the​ elections of​ 2000 and​ 2004 to​ see how similarly unlike we are to​ each other - it's been an​ even split in​ elections on our emotional values.) We have assigned our loves, hates, fears, exhilerations, sympathies, et al. to​ many and​ varied associations. in​ the​ Americas, you cannot find two or​ more people who have exactly the​ same responses to​ anything - even being faced with sudden death. You do find that people will more or​ less react in​ similar fashions. But the​ differences are broad enough that it​ is​ impossible to​ actually "fool some of​ the​ people all of​ the​ time and​ all of​ the​ people some of​ the​ time."

As the​ Internet and​ its choices become more pervasive, we will see more and​ more fragmentation and​ realignment of​ our emotions with our various attitudes.


Starting epidemics requires concentrating resources on a​ few key areas. Your resources ought to​ be solely concentrated on the​ Connectors, Mavens, and​ Salesmen. or​ at​ least getting your idea in​ front of​ them.

You have to​ define your niche and​ the​ people who move in​ it. You need to​ study what is​ out there, what solutions are being proposed. You have to​ find ways for​ people to​ get this data. You have to​ find connectors (specialized article directories, online radio shows, key forums and​ blogs) within that niche. the​ Mavens and​ Salesmen will take your concept from there. But be very willing to​ give out free samples for​ people and​ to​ reach out to​ many, many, many sub-niches (nichettes?) in​ an​ emotional way they will understand.

"Those who are successful at​ creating social epidemics do not just do what they think is​ right. They deliberately test their intuitions."

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