What Makes an Idea Go Viral?

Viral marketing is a hot buzzword these days. It’s a simple enough concept – get others to spread your idea and before too long, thanks to the beauty of exponential math (“I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on.”), you’ve reached a lot of people.

The challenge is, how do you get people to want to tell two friends? Or two hundred? Or two thousand?

Seth Godin shared 20 ideas on this on his blog yesterday. Here are a few of my favorites:

I spread your idea because.

.because I feel smart alerting others to what I discovered.

.because there’s a financial benefit directly to me (Amazon affiliates, mlm).

.because both my friend and I will benefit if I share the idea (Groupon).

.because if everyone knew this idea, I’d be happier.

.because I care about someone and this idea will make them happier or healthier.

.because I’m in awe of your art and the only way I can repay you is to share that art with others.

14 more at Seth’s Blog

Why do people spread your idea? What compels them to tell two friends, and so on? If you can’t answer that, don’t expect them to.


Has Traditional Media’s Use of Social Media Gone Too Far?

The local FOX affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth posted this hilarious spoof of TV media’s use of social media on their Facebook page and now YouTube:

via Mashablefox-spoof-225

Free Social Media Strategy Webinar – October 7

453598_warriors_loneliness In conjunction with MicroAssist, I’ll be presenting a free webinar on creating an integrated social media strategy on Thursday, October 7, at 2pm Central. Register at http://smwebinar.eventbrite.com.  

For a growing number of organizations, using social media tools such Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and  blogs are mission critical to their success.  People within those organizations are using social media to:

*  learn information that is critical to their jobs
*  form connections with industry leaders
*  become recognized as industry thought leaders
*  address customer service issues
*  market their own products and services

However, without a cohesive social media strategy you can easily end up with a lot of social media activity but very little meaningful business results. 

In this webinar, we’ll show you how individual, departmental and enterprise social media strategies integrate to create a total value for the organization that is greater than the sum of the parts.  We’ll also provide you the basic strategic framework for developing individual, departmental and enterprise social media plans.  And finally, you’ll learn some high-ROI social media strategies that you can apply on any platform – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging, niche communities, or whatever “the next big thing” turns out to be.  Again, you can register, at no cost, at http://smwebinar.eventbrite.com.

Be sure to tell a friend!

A Good Old-Fashioned True Blue Friend

Grand Avenue

Long Tail Keyword Research 101


I’m on a panel tonight at Social Media Club Austin talking about the connection between SEO (search engine optimization) and social media. I’ll be focusing on long tail keyword research, an essential core strategy for businesses looking to use social media to bring targeted traffic to their website (which, let’s face it, really should be one of the major goals of any social media initiative).

I’ve put together a presentation, a keyword research spreadsheet template and detailed instructions for using it. I know I should probably repurpose it all as a blog post, but I have to walk out the door in an hour, so this’ll have to do for now. 🙂

Image credit: Carol Foil

Anti-Social Business Tries Social Media


Facebook Misses the Mark with Places

Yet again, Facebook has demonstrated their utter lack of understanding for personal boundaries and any sense of appropriate privacy. One of the things you can do with Facebook Places that you can’t with Foursquare, Gowalla, etc., is check your friends in.

Bad idea. Really bad idea. If I choose to tell the world where I am 24/7, that’s my prerogative. I can even live with people tweeting things like “I’m at #BATHH with @ScottAllen @LaniAR @KateBuckJr & other cool peeps.” But the idea of people creating structured, archived data about my location is just really unnerving. The potential for misuse is staggering.

I echo Laurie Ruettimann’s sentiment:


More on what’s wrong with Facebook Places at Social Media Today.

What Google Really Thinks About Social Media


The Problem with Being Slightly Famous

One of the things that happens when you become slightly famous is that a whole lot of people want a little piece of your time. Sure, it may only be ten minutes, or even two, but multiply that by dozens, or even hundreds, of people, and pretty soon you’re buried in a stack of email, voice mail, Twitter DMs, Facebook messages, and so on, most of which will take some time to reply to, and some of them maybe never.

That can be frustrating enough by itself – you want to help everyone and reply to every email in a timely fashion, but it’s simply not possible, or at least not practical. Unfortunately, some people take offense at it, or attribute it to something other than simply information overload. They think you’re either mad, rude or disorganized, when in reality, you’re just very, very busy.

Social media can exacerbate this problem. Besides creating even more channels for people to demand your time, it also can create difficulty when you’re publicly spending time in social media and people who are trying to communicate with you individually see that, as happened to Steve Rubel last night:


I can empathize with both sides of this. On the one hand, I totally empathize with Steven in this situation. The smiley face is a small amelioration of the fact that he’s being called out on this issue over an 8-word Facebook post, which I’m sure took far less time than responding to her email would.

[NOTE: Karen’s a friend of Steve’s, not a client, and this post was clearly in fun, but still, it illustrates the point. What follows is stream of thought, not based on this specific example. I’m not accusing Steve of what I describe below, and I realized after the fact that it may have come across that way. Apologies to Steve & Karen for that – not my intention.]

On the other hand, if I were a paying customer of someone, waiting on work from them, it would be very frustrating for me to see them blogging, conversing on Twitter, posting extensively on Facebook, etc. As a service provider, I become pretty scarce in social media when I have clients waiting on work from me. While you’re entitled to use your time as you see fit, and to continue to engage in marketing while you have client work due, I think being really “out there” in public social media is kind of rubbing it in their face.

Always keep in mind that your current customers are far more important relationships to your business than your social media fans and followers. Take care of your existing customers first and foremost, even if that means a brief hiatus from your social media channels.

The Perfect Handshake

2235525962_6eb16dcc29_o Discovery.com reports that researchers at the University of Manchester have developed a mathematically optimal formula for the perfect handshake, based on 12 key measures, including vigor, eye contact and hand temperature.

"The human handshake is one of the most crucial elements of impression formation and is used as a source of information for making a judgment about another person," he said.

The researcher added he was surprised "that up until now there has not been a guide showing people how they should shake hands," which has been a traditional greeting and a key part of business deals for thousands of years.

Beattie’s steps to the perfect handshake, for both men and women, are: use the right hand; a complete grip and a firm squeeze (but not too strong); a cool and dry palm; approximately three shakes, with a medium level of vigor, held for no longer than two to three seconds.

The handshake must also be executed with eye contact kept throughout and a good natural smile with an appropriate verbal statement.

While I do find this research interesting and moderately useful, I was particularly struck by the comment from someone who identified himself only as “Bubb Rubb”:

It’s no wonder that yet another study must be performed for something that we once thought was natural.  Way back when…. a boy learned a proper handshake from his father.  His father learned it from his father.  Things like manners, common courtesy and of all things since the Romans, the handshake, have gone by the wayside.  Pretty soon we will all need a shovel to find our collective bootstraps.

Along these lines, while it’s not entirely scientific, we do have a sort of “formula” for the perfect virtual handshake, i.e., how to introduce yourself and make a good first impression in a forum or group. Again, it should come naturally. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, as readily evidenced by spending any amount of time in discussion forums. And a little refresher helps keep you at the top of your game.

Image credit: thinkpanama