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Behind the Scenes of Viral Campaigns: Plus Your Business

Behind the Scenes of Viral Campaigns: Plus Your Business

AIR DATE: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
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This week we welcome Martin Shervington and Stan Bush from Plus Your Business! to talk about quests.

You may have seen the various “games” that Martin and the PYB team have coordinated on Google+, involving Canva, Mark Zuckerberg, Rubik’s Cube, and others. Well, now’s the time to pull back the curtain and talk about the what and the why of these quests. It’s bound to be a fantastic discussion!

Google+ Business Spotlight recap

Did you know that Martin started the popular hashtag, #starwarstuesday? Yep. Here’s the story:

Back in the day…there weren’t as many guides and tips on Google Plus so people just played around and tried to see what would happen. After about a month, Martin and a group of people were able to get #starwarstuesday to trend on Google+, without their own involvement. Since then, Martin has been experimenting with other hashtag campaigns to see how to get them to trend.

#WilliamShatnerWednesday, for example, was a highly concerted effort with a lot of content being pushed out relentlessly, to try and get the attention of Mr. Shatner’s agency.

How tribes play a part in quests

  1. Martin puts a call to action (public post) to see who’s interested in participating in an experiment.
  2. Once the circle has been created, private posts, hangouts, and private communities are put into place to communicate between the tribe members.
  3. The key to success today is to encourage participation and fun, not so much just trying to get something to trend for the sake of saying you did it.

Playing, Participating, and Trending

Stan tells us that the private hangouts and community discussions are very interactive, with topics centered more around what’s happening, what’s working, and answering each others’ questions. In his experience, not one of the participants has ever been solely focused on getting the campaign to trend, instead, it seems like an after-effect (“someone will hop into the chat and say ‘guys, guess, what, I just realized we’re trending.'”).

Earlier on in Google Plus, it was possible to get something to trend with 10-15 people. Now it takes a much larger tribe, anywhere from 100-200 people. When something trends, though, it generally trends globally on Google+ (vs. personalized recommendations that we see in What’s Hot).

What about data and transparency?

When building a tribe around a campaign, you walk a line between being too discreet and asking people to opt into something they may not ultimately be interested in, and being too transparent which can start adding campaign data prematurely, before the experiment is set up.

Martin suggests that you be as transparent as you need to be with respect to disclosing the type of project, but do not give details. If someone does not wish to participate once they find out more information, they can simply choose not to participate.

How do you set up and track the campaign?

Firstly, remember that each campaign is different than the next, so there is an aura of “organized chaos” to them. Stan disagrees, though. As the “boots on the ground” he helps facilitate conversations and questions between the initial seed of participants, but realize that once the campaign starts, people outside the group will see it and might want to participate as well. At that point, you just watch and track what happens.

From a tracking standpoint, NOD3X is a tool that does the best job of pulling actual objective data on the number of posts, interactions, activity, and more.

What about controls? Controls are important if you want to replicate the campaign and have as informed of an analysis as possible. Well, Martin says, you just do your best. The main controls you have are over the process and the measurement, which can be documented, but each campaign is going to take on a life of its own.

Talk about the intent of these campaigns

Intent can vary from campaign to campaign. Here are some examples of intent, or a “Point B” as Stephan put it:

  • Relationship building with someone not active on Google+
  • SEO benefits from generating lots of indexed content around a particular topic
  • Product launches or marketing campaigns
  • Case studies to build your own authority

For Plus Your Business, the primary intent is to build the case studies and teaching others how to do this.

How can a business start their own quest?

First and foremost, build the relationships.

Make the experience about the tribe you’re building, not about you.

When you start with a focus on “them” and not “you” more people will relate and participate. Find the ones who are willing to play, and then teach them about the process so they’ll have fun and feel like they were a real part of something.

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