Crossing The Viral Content ChasmMoore’s brilliant idea is people who start trends aren’t the same ones as those who make them ubiquitous. Early adopters start the acceptance train, but many ideas die before climbing the Everest of adoption.
Moore’s “Majority” lives up the mountain. I learned to climb the mountain the hard way when the specialty gift company I co-founded, Found Objects, attempted to sell Magnetic Poetry Kit to Barnes and Noble. Magnetic Poetry Kit (MPK), words on magnets created by a poet in Minneapolis, was the first real blockbuster product Found Objects discovered and brought to market. It was selling like gangbusters in small specialty gift shops.
Carol, a Barnes and Noble buyer, stopped by our booth at the Gift Show in San Francisco. She wanted to know about MPK. My heart stopped. Having a Barnes and Noble buyer in the booth was like having Gordon Gekko stop by.
Carol acted like the villain of Oliver Stone’s movie about Wall Street. She didn’t wear a badge, the big buyers rarely do. She was dismissive and nasty. Ego was writing checks Carol’s skills couldn’t cash. It took two years to cinch the deal to put words on magnets into Barnes and Noble.
The fault wasn’t Carol’s alone. I pitched Magnetic Poetry Kit to Carol by sharing how well it was doing in the small specialty gift shops that made up most of Found Objects customer list. Carole and Barnes and Noble didn’t care about mom and pop gift shops. My bad.
If Borders just left the booth and was going to order by Christmas Carol would have written an order just to mark her biggest competitor. Now BandN’s biggest competitor is Amazon and much of the brick and mortar dynamics have changed as ecommerce and the web continue to take share. Reading Crossing the Chasm before pitching Carol would have cut a year out o the buying cycle.
Carol’s delay built Magnetic Poetry Kit demand. The other good news is MPK sold out fast once it hit the front counter at Barnes and Noble.It took two years, but we were able to get a big box retailer to do what they are good at - amplify an existing trend taking it to a new level.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Don’t pitch “majority” buyers with early adopter logic.
The Viral Content ChasmYour content climbs a bell curve with a chasm too. Most of what you write and share will be accepted by your loyal fans and supporters, but fail to cross the chasm, fail to achieve viral lift. The “Event Horizon” is the cliff between early adopters and acceptance by the early majority. Acceptance by the early majority means you have a good chance to climb the viral mountain.
Tips To Cross Content Marketing’s Chasm
- Develop a network of PowerRetweeters.
- Surf an existing large cultural story.
- Be Funny.
- Be Relevant and New.
- Make it easy to share.
- Create self-fulfilling prophecies.
Find people with large followings in your industry, follow and ReTweet them. After you've built a relationship appeal to them directly when you are passionate about content your team has created that is related to their interests. Don’t abuse the relationship, but ask for a ReTweet. Say thanks by reTweeting their pickup and sending a direct message if they follow you. Best time to develop any network is WHEN YOU DON’T NEED IT. You develop networks by helping others caring about and supporting what they are doing.
Surf Existing Stories
David Meerman Scott, a former Wall Street trader, has written several important books on how to surf the news, how to “newsjack” a story. Even if I don't newsjack I still look for powerful trends I can learn how to surf. Read Real Time Marketing and PR for starters and NewsJacking after that.
Funny is tough because what you and I think is funny could be very different, but if you’ve tested something and it works and is perceived as “water cooler” funny then go for it. Water cooler funny is your audience feels your funny story; video or link must be shared with five friends.
Be Relevant and New
Made To Stick. The biggest lesson from my reading?
Use existing ideas and analogies to pitch new ideas. Made To Stick has a piece of duct tape on the cover and is a great example of the “use something known to pitch the unknown” concept.
New is fuel to a new tribe of hunter/gathers. New ideas that are highly relevant to your tribe will be shared as long as they aren’t SO NEW they are unproven. Unproven ideas don't get picked up UNLESS they are wrapped in an analogy or idea the audience understands.
Make It Easy To Share
Amazing I have to include this tip since sharing technology is everywhere, but some know how to make ideas easy to share and some don’t. Pre-fill your tweet link with a cool link and copy. Don’t be overly self-serving. Klout is a good example of overly self serving in their auto-fill. I modified this example of their auto-fill and it still is way to KLOUT-centric:
I gave @liveconnection +K about Community on @klout because they rock. http://klout.com/liveconnection/topics?i=501459&n=tw&v=plusk_gave
Let me amend that, if you don’t know how to be anything other than be self-serving do that since it is more powerful to do something than nothing. The real opportunity is to have a pre-filled link so cool and fun your audience wants to keep every word.
ASK FOR LINK LOVE and be appreciative when you get it. Don’t be above asking for Link Love. Be sure to tell your benefactor how you are using their gift. Anyone who puts his or her social capital in your service should be thanked and included.
When something looks like it MIGHT cross the viral marketing chasm give it a shove (lol) by:
- Put a counter on it and share with the public.
- Thank a supporter in public (with permission).
- Write a piece about viral lift (a favorite of mine).
- Be authentic and real.
- Come from a place of passion and love.
- Be confident.
Why Content Gets Shared And May Go Mega-Viral on Atlantic BT's blog. See the "event horizon". Cross that huge chasm and you are good to get to the top of the viral marketing bell curve. Your content may keep going. Less than 5% of your content is going to be shared in a mega-viral way (whatever your average share is X 100). Once you have content get into the "mega-viral" category try to understand what you did to make that happen and do it again (lol).
Create more and more content faster and faster and better and better (link to my piece on the secret of Internet marketing) and your content will cross Moore’s chasm and ride the magic roller coaster bell curve that is Internet marketing.
If you have content already going viral congratulations and you should pat yourself on the back, sit down for five minutes and then get back to creating more great content. Remember to “feed the monster”. Keep in mind the Internet marketing content monster only ever gets MORE hungry (lol).
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