Science Of Getting Noticed

Dan Zarrella will tell you that successful use cases of social media don’t involve rainbows. Nor do they involve unicorns, the ROI of putting pants on or even routinely good ideas. Successful companies and people know that good ideas don’t always translate to memes, either.

But success in social media or blogging or anywhere on the web doesn’t have to be guesswork. Social media is a great place to test to see what works best.

Dan Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness

Zarrella likens social media to a “petri dish for ideas” and has developed a “framework for the decision-making process that happens before someone spreads an idea.” He mentions these three tips:

  • The person must be exposed to your content. You must have a prior relationship with them, whether it’s as Twitter followers, Facebook friends, email list subscribers or in your Google+ Circle.
  • The person must become aware of whatever specific content you want to spread–they’ve read a tweet, opened an email or saw a Facebook post on their wall.
  • The person must be motivated to share your idea with his friends. This is usually accomplished through the idea, but can be the result of your relationship (being asked to retweet a message about cancer versus a fan of Seth Godin sharing something he knows Seth liked).

Well, that was easy. Now go do that.

If only.

Every marketer knows that the secret to getting a lot of people to share something depends on one or more of these three things:

  • You can increase the number of people you directly exposed to your content (have a large subscriber/follower/fan base)
  • Your content can be more attention grabbing, with split testing (think Huffington Post headlines)
  • Develop calls to action that prompt specific behaviors (Look both ways when crossing street versus cross when clear)

It’s that last part that struck me as most useful. In Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, the authors wrote about a municipality that wanted to educate residents on how to maintain a healthy weight. They found that switching from whole to 1% or nonfat milk would drastically reduce fat intake. During initial testing, one group was told to eat healthier, the other group was specifically told that switching from whole milk would help them eat healthier.

Which was more effective?

The second group, by a long shot. Like Zarrella says in his new book, getting people to do something different isn’t an accident, nor is it limited to large companies with big budgets or huge celebrities with large followings, but is best accomplished by deliberate, focused action that’s meant to produce a specific goal.

If you’re still stuck in a rut with your writing, blogging, small business or whatever job you’re currently in, take some time and analyze what you’re doing to get your name out there. Bet you’re not doing it as well as you’d think.

If you need help, Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas is free on Kindle through August 27.

(Tyler Hurst is a member of the Domino Project Street Team. He received a review copy of this book for free.)

1 Comment

  1. Chris Lee
    Chris Lee

    Nice article, Tyler.