Sunday, January 31, 2010

From Mass Marketing to Viral Marketing

From Mass Marketing to Viral Marketing

The digital age has given us the tools to change the way we market products. But although the Internet and the huge growth of digital devices has been around now for 10-15 years, most marketers haven’t really began to understand its full potential. Why?...

50-100 years of mass marketing inertia is the answer.

Let’s take a closer look…

Viral marketing
has been with us for more than 90 years. In the 20’s, although it later became illegal, the Ponzi Scheme was one of the first amazing examples of how successful a Viral Marketing campaign can get. With the arrival of mass media advertising (Radio in the 20’s – 30’s and TV in the 50’s – 60’s), viral marketing was left aside for a few decades but now in the digital era it has come again strongly. Internet and mobile devices speed up and facilitate enormously communications between people, creating a fertile ecosystem where the “Virus” of an intelligently designed marketing campaign can spread like never before. To get an idea of how fertile the terrain is for Viral Marketing campaigns, let’s take a look at some findings of an eMarketer Study on Viral Marketing:

  • 89% of US adults share content by e-mail
  • 25% share content daily
  • Only 5% of respondants would refuse to share content that contains a clear brand message

… And these data is from 2006 !! Before Twitter, Facebook and Social Media became popular !!

What this data is showing is that never before in the recent history of marketing, users were so eager to spread a marketing message, had so many tools available and at such low cost. This poses a great challenge to today’s marketers. We’re just starting to see the tip of the iceberg regarding Viral Marketing in the digital era. Even though online advertising has grown at consistently high rates (see how Online Advertising has overtaken TV advertising in UK) most of it is still mass marketing. Most marketers only shift budgets from TV or Radio to massive online advertising campaigns but don’t really take advantage of all the new features and possibilities this new media has. After many decades of marketers specialized in mass media channels (Newspapers, TV, Radio, etc), it’s gonna take some time, and probably require a generational change until we see Top Brands with regular viral campaigns, big budgets assigned to Viral Marketing and really specialized professionals in this field.

This is the first of a series of three posts dedicated to Viral Marketing. In the next post, we’ll take look at the Viral Marketing Mindset.

Copyright MBA Internet Marketing Manager

Friday, January 22, 2010

Google's statement: how Google ranks tweets

Last month, Google started to display real-time results in addition to the regular top 10 pages on their search result pages. The real-time results are meant to offer web searchers access to brand new news items as fast as possible.


The main element of Google's real-time results are tweets. Tweets are the real-time messages that Twitter users post on Google's Amit Singhal, who led the development of Google's real-time search, recently revealed how Google ranks tweets in the real-time results.

There's some kind of PageRank just for tweets

Google's PageRank algorithm looks at the link structure of a web page. The more websites link to a website and the more websites link to the linking websites the more relevant is the linked website.

Tweets are not about links but about followers. On, people "follow" the comments of other Twitter users. The more followers a Twitter user has, the more reputable are the tweets of that user. If Twitter users that have many followers follow another Twitter user then these users will have a larger impact on the reputation of that user.

"It is more than a popularity contest", said Google's Amit Singhal. "One user following another in social media is analogous to one page linking to another on the Web. Both are a form of recommendation.

As high-quality pages link to another page on the Web, the quality of the linked-to page goes up. Likewise, in social media, as established users follow another user, the quality of the followed user goes up as well."

There are additional filters and algorithms

The follower reputation rank is only one of Google's methods to rank tweets:

  1. Hashtags

    Twitter users often use "hashtags" in their comments. Hashtags are symbols that start with a # followed by a popular topic, for example #earthquake.

    If such a hashtag is included in a tweet, the tweet will show up in the real-time results when other Twitter users click the hashtag's topic word elsewhere on the site.

  2. Spam

    While hashtags can be useful to maximize the exposure of a tweet, they are also often abused for spamming. The wrong hashtags can serve as a red flag that triggers Google's spam filters.

    Amit Singhal didn't go into the details but he said that Google modeled the hashtagging behavior in ways that tend to reduce the exposure of low-quality tweets.

  3. The signal in the noise

    There can be thousands of tweets that contain a very popular word such as "Obama". To find the relevant tweets, Google looks for "signals in the noise". Such a signal can be an increasing number of tweets that mention other words near mentions of "Obama", for example "Cambridge police". The tweets with the signals will be chosen for the real-time results.

The problem with Google's real-time results is that they don't last. The time and efforts that you have to invest in getting listed in Google's real-time results is better spent on optimization for Google's regular results.


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