[tweetmeme]I must say I was shocked when I learned that of all the billions of tweets out there, most are only retweeted 1.4 times. Of course, this isn’t counting Ashton Kutcher and other Influentials. I’m talking about the tweets of mere mortals like you and me.
I learned this at the Viral Marketing Meetup held in New York last evening. The impressive roster of speakers included Duncan Watts, principal research scientist a Yahoo! Research; Tim Schigel, CEO of sharethis.com; and Erik Martin, community manager at reddit.com. It was a heady session because all the speakers focused on the metrics – is the frenzy around viral marketing actually producing business and building brands?
Is word of mouth (WOM) being oversold?
The jury is still out, of course, because social media as a marketing tool is still in its infancy.
But Duncan Watts, a professor at Columbia University before moving over to Yahoo, is skeptical. He discounts the notion that highly popular Influentials are any more successful in starting a trend than the rank-and-file. In a Fast Company article from two years ago, he is quoted as saying, “If society is ready to embrace a trend, almost anyone can start one–and if it isn’t, then almost no one can,” Watts concludes. This article is a good read and just as timely today. (Not everyone embraces Watts’ points of view).
Watts backs his assertions with research involving thousands of subjects, conducted while he was at Columbia, which is how he learned that most of our tweets land with a thud. No zipping around the world for our 140 characters.
Is Intel Building its Brand on Facebook?
Coincidentally, I also attended a webinar yesterday entitled “9 Companies Doing Facebook Right and What You Need to Know.” The presenters were Facebook expert Mari Smith, and Michael Stelzner, white paper guru and founder of the Social Media Examiner. Intel was one of the case studies. It was all very interesting, but I had to ask myself, what is Intel’s Facebook presence doing to build its brand? Is this viral marketing at its best?
Currently, the company is running two contests: one in which Intel is giving away PCs to build its database of fans, and in the other aspiring Latin, Urban and Singer/Songwriter artists are invited to upload their best original song in the Intel “Superstars” Competition. Fans vote for their favorites with cash prizes for the top 20 winners.
I’m not being grumpy. I think it’s great that ordinary folks can win new computers and that the company is supporting emerging artists. But I’m trying to see how these contests are helping a company that makes core processors. I’m sure great minds thought up these promotions, so who am I to question them.
What I learned makes me wonder if we should retrieve old-fashioned mass advertising from the graveyard. When big companies, as well as small ones, are huffing and puffing to attract customers one at a time through WOM, reaching a few million customers with a 30-second ad sure sound appealing.
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