Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Science of Social Media

In today's social media marketing world power is derived through fans, followers, shares, and retweets.  Where entertainers and other celebrities have an advantage in gathering such power through their fame, the rest of the world has to struggle in acquiring them.  Dan Zarella, a social media scientist with Hubspot, and author of The Facebook Marketing Booktakes a scientific approach to understanding why some people are more successful than others with social media.  In a lecture titled The Science of Social Media he explains why.  The following is a summary of his lecture.

The Social Media Hierarchy is made of three prongs:
1. Exposure  2. Awareness  3. Motivation

Exposure
  • Get more followers - More Followers increases your chance of spreading your content
  • How do you get more followers?
    • Limit Self-Reference - Stop talking about yourself.  Those who talk more about themselves tend to have less followers.
    • Limit Negativity - Negativity correlates with less followers
    • Increase frequency - You need a steady stream of tweets.  This correlates with more shares.

Awareness
  • Utilize Contra-Competitive Timing
    • Content you share during low periods of activity tends to get shared more.  This is because there is less competition for eyeballs.
    • The lowest periods of social media activity tend to be at the end of the week, from Thursday through Sunday.

Motivation
  • The better a reputation you have, the more motivated your audience will be to share.  
    • They want to look cool, so they'll share cool stuff, from cool people
    • Novel and Scarce information is power (not just any knowledge).  People want to share knowledge that they believe is scarce.
    • Be helpful.  If you frame information that will help, protect, warn people, they will more likely share it.

The Information Void
  • A WWII study revealed that rumors spread in an information void.  
    • Current events typically have an information void
      • e.g., Tiger Woods, etc. spread because no one knew the real story as to why his wife chase him out in the driveway
    • Breaking stories tend to have an information void

How to Find Topics with Opportunity?
  • Go out and find questions to answer
    • If they are asking a question, they haven't found an answer for it (thus an information void)
    • Conduct a search for a search term with "?" after it.  Look for questions around your expertise.
      • Answer those questions.

Social Proof
  • The more you see someone performing a specific action, the more you think that it is true.  This is social proof.  
    • It's a risk-reduction mechanism.  Seeing someone survive after an action will give you more comfort in performing it yourself.
      • This is the case with social media activity

Sharing Motivations
  • What motivates people to share?
    • Personal Relevance - This is most commonly shared, stories that mean something to the audience
    • Combined Relevance - Take two distinct interests and combine them 
      • For example, Dan discussed his post about the USB Absynth spoon
    • Toned down sophistication - 4th grade reading levels are shared more frequently on facebook
      • The least shared on Twitter are posts at 15th grade reading levels
  • More frequently, people are sharing stories of other people doing things 
  • Rarity gets re-tweeted more frequently
  • New/Old - Updated take on an old concept (Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DeCaprio / Steam Punk)

Most Retweeted Phrases
  1. You
  2. twitter
  3. Please
  4. retweet
  5. post
  6. blog
  7. social
  8. free
  9. media
  10. help
  11. please re-tweet (this does work.  Ask them)

Least shared on Facebook
  • Geeky jargon

Most shared on Facebook
  • sex
  • positive

Check it Out

  • View the lecture for yourself