When launching a viral campaign geared towards virality one’s typical marketing instinct is to be picked up by major influencers. A recent article by AdAge shows that this may not be the most fruitful effort. Jon Steinberg, President of BuzzFeed, and Jack Krawczyk, senior marketing manager at StumbleUpon, shared information on how the most popular stories spread across their networks that combine for over 4 billion page views each month.
The top stories from each network were analyzed, and the results shows that large groups of small shares trumped the inverse model. One of the main reasons for the lack traffic from influencers is simply that the impact is effective but short lived. The method of targeting large groups of “ordinary” users will act like traditional word-of-mouth sharing and is less hit-or-miss than being picked up by influentials. In the report Steinberg and Krawczyk state:
What emerges is a picture of social networks where stories go viral when lots of people engage with their normal-sized circles to share content. The evidence suggests that the best way to “go viral” is to engage millions of users with great shareable content with the repeatable knowledge that they will share at reasonable interpersonal levels.
When looking at the share/visit stats for BuzzFeed’s top articles one thing was clear the traffic driven on each social networking share was very low. For the top stories that drove anywhere from millions to 100,000 Facebook referrals the ratio of views to traffic was 9 to 1. For every one Facebook share only 9 people actually viewed the page. Twitter was even lower with a 5 to 1 ratio.
So when looking at linkbait promotion or viral campaigns, the statistics say to lean towards focusing on a large audience rather than a few small influencers.