Tag Archives: marketing

4 Research Studies That Can Holistically Create Viral Content

Gray keyboard shot with return button in red, with "Go Viral'

It could be a cute video of your pet, a brutal fight in a crowded high school hallway, or an auto-toned simple song about the best day of the week. It could be a blog post decrying Hipster Beards. What exactly makes content go viral? That is a perplexing question that has confounded many a marketing guru. There are, however, reasonable theories that illuminate the reasons for internet contagiousness. Together, these could create a whole organism that invites the coveted virus of web traffic.

The Theory of the Heart

 

 

While conjuring an emotional response from users is a crucial element to creating viral content, it isn’t always easy. Some emotions such as anger, though, are easy to produce. One method is to publicly disagree with a recognized opinion, all to drive users to express their rage through comments and share links on their own social networking platforms. A perfect example occurred recently when Kid Rock in a Rolling Stone interview expressed astonishment at Beyoncé’s success and idolization. Her fans, also known as the Beyhive, swarmed the rapper’s social media accounts with full ire. Needless to say, Kid Rock became a high trending topic—although perhaps not as he might have wanted.

An article in Fast Company further explains:

Recent research suggests that emotions hold the secret to viral web content. Articles, posts, or videos that evoke positive emotions have greater viral potential than something that evokes negative feelings, but both do a better job recruiting clicks than neutral content. The finer details tell a similar story: triggering high-arousal emotions, such as anger or humor, is a surer path to click gold than triggering low-arousal ones, such as contentment or sadness.

The Theory of the Mind

 

 

This has to do with memory-induced triggers, and is elucidated in the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On—written by Jonah Berger, Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of Business. Berger argues that individuals tend to share what’s on their immediate mind, and this dovetails into the science behind word of mouth. During an interview, he explains why the GEICO’s “Hump-Day” camel ad became vastly popular. It’s not really because people relish in the idea of going around yelling “Hump Dayyy!” in their best camel impersonation (although it is a pastime of mine). He explains instead:

It’s one of the most shared ads of last year. One the question is, why. Well, if you look at the data you notice something very interesting. There’s a spike of attention, and then it goes down, and then another spike and it goes down … if you look closer, you realize that the spikes are not random, they’re seven days apart. And you look even closer, you realize that they’re every Wednesday, whereas it’s known as “Hump Day.” So, this ad is equally good or bad every day of the week, but Wednesday provides a ready reminder, what psychologists call a “trigger” to make people think about it and talk about it. When something is top of mind, we’re much more likely to share it. Just like peanut butter reminds us of jelly, Wednesday reminds us of Hump Day, which reminds us to share this ad. That’s one reason why it’s so popular.

The Theory of the Eye

 

 

Captivating content will likely not go viral unless it’s in the right place, at the right time, and in the right way.

Our own research reveals:

As any marketer knows, the content isn’t the only key factor. How it’s presented is just as important. Compelling content simply won’t go viral unless it is positioned in the right place, at the right time, and in the right way. Location on webpages, attachments, and readability are all important factors. Studies show that users only actually read about 20% of a typical webpage, and of that 20%, very little is actually absorbed. This means that viral content must be friendly to skimmers. Viral content must be presented in a way that highlights verbal and visual hooks which will catch the viewer’s interest and convince them to stop and pay attention.

According to white paper by Cisco, by 2017 video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic. Video-on-demand traffic alone will have almost tripled. This clearly means that visual will be king of content, so pleasing the eye will be the queen-wearing-the-pants.

The Theory of the Body

 

 

Many are familiar with list-articles on BuzzFeed and other similar sites. They are vastly popular, often producing infectious content.

The appeal of list-articles stories is from the value of practicality, belonging, and, in a way, civic duty. In an interview with The New Yorker, Berger said list-articles are successful because they “allow people to feel like there’s a nice packet of useful information that they can share with others.” By sharing a piece of “useful information,” individuals may appear to others as smart and helpful, as well as feel part of a larger, beneficial organism.

The University of Pennsylvania conducted a study on what makes content go viral. It found that informative, educational, practical, interesting, and surprising articles are more likely to make the most e-mailed list of the New York Times.

The study further states:

People might be more likely to share positive stories on overcast days, for example, to make others feel happier. Other cues in the environment might also shape social transmission by making certain topics more accessible. When the World Series is going on, for example, people may be more likely to share a sports story because that topic has been primed.

Finally, the study states that leadership or expert articles have a smaller chance of becoming viral, contrary to the tenets of buzz marketing. This points to the conclusion that people want to belong and at the same time want to share information that benefits the whole of the community.

Following these four theories will not guarantee that your next blog post will go viral. If that were the case, many would need to upgrade their internet bandwidth to Kid Rock levels. While we cannot infer too much from these theories and studies, it does highlight an opportunity for further research (and opportunity). In the meantime, keep sharing those videos and pictures of cute cats. One doesn’t need science or studies to know the internet loves cats.

Image Credit Tom Fishburne

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Millennials and Holiday Shopping

The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday sales will increase 4.1% this year or to a total of $616.9 billion. This includes in-store, direct-to-consumer, kiosk and online sales. If this number is correct, the 2014 shopping season could be the best one that retailers have seen in over a decade.

With the number of stores open on Thanksgiving Day increasing, the number of shoppers coming out early to get deals has also increased. NRF data estimates that 44.8 million consumers shopped on Thanksgiving Day in 2013. This number is up by 27% from the previous year and millennials represent more than 43% of that number. Millennials spent 13% more than the other generations over Thanksgiving weekend. 83% also shopped for themselves over Thanksgiving weekend.

A recent study from Hanover research reveals that that millennials live and shop in the moment, often making purchases and dealing with the repercussions later. The study also shows that 52% of Millennials were more likely to make impulse purchases than any other generation. They prefer to purchase with digital media in hand and they don’t stop spending in a recession-only 20 percent of Millennials reported spending less on apparel during the most recent economic downturn.

Several factors which should increase spending this year include:

Weather– Last Fall and Winter, much of the US was experiencing bad weather during the shopping season. Although part of the Eastern United States currently is buried in snow, the majority of the States are experiencing mild weather.

Utility Spending– Due to a mild summer, many consumers spent less on utilities and have more money for spending.

Government Shut-Down- On October 1, 2013, a partial government shut-down was put in place. The 16-day-long shutdown was the third-longest government shutdown in the U.S. and 2.9 million people were put on job furlough.

Employment Rates– More people are employed this year and disposable income increased 4% each month this summer.

Consumer Confidence– Most surveys are showing that confidence on the part of consumers has improved.

Gasoline Prices– In the past couple of months, gasoline prices have dropped and may provide more spending money for the holidays.

Gen Xers are knowledgeable shoppers who use information to guide their decisions and Baby Boomers tend to purchase based on practicality. These generations will likely keep budget more in mind this holiday season.

Millennials & Holiday Shopping

Social Media Users Earn Less

A recent study conducted with qSample’s general consumer panel reveals that more than 60% of respondents surveyed access Facebook 3-6 times a day. Results also show those who are logged in that frequently earn an income of $50,000 or less per year.

The survey was conducted during the last week of September, with more than 400 respondents participating.  Among those who completed the survey, their employment status were as followed –  41% are employed full-time by a company other than their own, 17% are retired and 13% are self-employed. Others label themselves as full-time homemakers, full-time students or chose “other” for employment status.

Compared to Facebook usage, respondents use other social media sparingly. They report using other social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pintrest and Instagram only a few times a month. And their main reason for using Facebook? Over 66% say that their primary reason is to connect with friends and family while16% use it for entertainment purposes. Please see the infographic below for additional survey results.

Social Media Users Earn Less400

Originally, Facebook’s enormous user retention success was partly due to the member’s ability to post, share and save pictures. Although some sites originally based on text have since added this capability (with Twitter on board only within the past two years), users seem to spend more time on the platform than any other social media sites.

Twitter has tried to replicate the activities of Facebook in allowing the addition of pictures to updates, changing each user’s homepage to stream updates, making media visible within that stream, and (more recently) tagging pictures with user’s names in hopes of increasing usage of the site.

Results from our survey also indicated that over half (51%) of the respondents use social media between 5:00pm-11:00pm and they are choosing the time brackets of noon-4PM and 9:00am-11:00am as secondary options.

Although several of these stats are not surprising, it’s a great idea to always keep up with what the consumer is thinking, and perhaps sometimes delve into why they think they way that they do. Here’s why:

The more marketers tune into consumers and their target audiences, the better they can hone specific messaging to draw them in. As an example, if 70% of a target audience is made up of moms, they can develop messaging that is attractive to most moms.

If companies know when their audience is logged onto certain sites, they can determine if advertising at certain times is beneficial or not. For digital advertising, there is often a choice of the time of day that ads run and advertising is sometimes more expensive during these prime times. Knowing when an audience in online is key to ensuring that a target market is seeing the message.

As always, things to consider when analyzing survey data include human behavior, personalities, potential reasons for responses, etc.

For this survey, we should consider that people who make under $50,000 a year may have more time on their hands than those who are earning more, giving them more time to connect with friends and family on Facebook. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates are lower in those with a professional or doctoral degree, while they run close to 11% for those with less than a high-school diploma and 7.5% for those with a high-school diploma.

Many of us know people above the $50,000 annual income category who choose activities other than social media. When asked for their reasons for not being social on-line, their answers often have something to do with lack of time (or as one mother-of-five said “I’m afraid it would be a huge time-sucker.”). In fact, 5% of people do not use Facebook at all, 55% don’t use Twitter, 54% don’t touch LinkedIn, 70% of people have no interest in Pintrest and 85% do not use Tumblr.

We should also consider that although people in this response group primarily use social media to connect with others, they may also be using Facebook to network and research potential ways to increase their income. With more education, telecommuting and contracting opportunities accessible via the internet, it is much easier to obtain additional sources of income. And many of the options are available to all who have internet access and not limited to those with a higher education level, who reside in a specific location or have other demographics that are needed for performing off-line jobs.

Why do we use social media so much? It appears that people find true value in it. Surprisingly, only 7% of respondents use it to “pass the time” versus using it for business purposes, connecting with family and friends, entertainment or “other”. On this scale, using it for “other”, whatever that may entail, describes only 2% of our general population consumers.

Consider how modern house plans differ from older house plans. In many regions, large front porches are gone and former “front porch activity” is delegated to the backyard area, which is often fenced off from other people in the neighborhood. Many now sit out in the backyard area with specifically-invited family or friends versus greeting the neighbors on their after-dinner strolls. Is social media a way that people reach out to be social, but to also stay within their comfort zones where life feels safer?

A large majority of people are coming home from work and logging onto social media. And although it appears that the majority of these people earn less than $50,000 annually, they are a market for product and services. Companies who reach the audience where they naturally spend their time will likely see the results in the bottom line.

 

Going to the 2014 FIFA World Cup? It’s Going to Cost You!

According to the U.S. consulate in Rio, more than 187,000 tickets have been purchased by American credit cards and 80,000 U.S. visitors are expected to attend the Cup.

In the infographic below we break down a few of the costs Americans can expect to spend if they’re planning to attend the 2014 FIFA World Cup in just one week. Would you be willing to pay the price?

FIFA World Cup

Infographic on travel costs for FIFA 2014

Will Office for iPad Make Tablets the Tool for Work?

Last month, Microsoft shook the tablet world by finally launching its Office for iPad apps, and the reverberations may be felt for years to come.

While tablets have become extremely popular, with many users preferring smaller to bulky and more awkward laptops, they have yet to truly find their niche in the business world. Even with bluetooth keyboards, and writing tools like Google Docs and iWork, many businesses refuse to adopt the device as a serious business tool. In the academic arena, many students prefer tablets for note taking and research, but find it awkward to use for papers and presentations. The launch of Microsoft’s Office for iPad apps is designed to change all that.

We conducted a survey with our general consumer panel to gauge their level in the new Microsoft Office for iPad app. The survey was fielded in less than 2 days during the first week of April, with more than 400 respondents sharing their insights on this new product and what it means to them professionally.

Survey results clearly indicate that tablets are still very popular with the general populaltion. Unsurprisingly, Apple was king among those devices with  almost half (40.45%) of our panel indicated they own a version of the iPad, but a mere 26.18% claim their primary uses for those tablets are for work and school. Confirming our suspicions, we found that entertainment rules the tablet world, with a staggering 69.12% of our panel logging on for fun. As always, internet surfing, watching videos, and updating social network pages continue to be a staple of tablet use.

Clearly this isn’t a hardware issue, and many who own Apple devices, such as the iPad, prefer to use the Microsoft Office software. This suggests that the new apps will be very well received by tablet owners, but there is a lot more involved than ease of use. Our survey showed that there was a strong positive reaction to the Office for iPad apps, as 63.02% said that they plan on using the new apps now that they are available, yet 76.56% didn’t feel that the apps were worth the $99 subscription fee. This is likely due to the abundance of less powerful, but free, programs/apps that will allow users to run similar tasks. Price does seem to play an enormous role, as 64.58% of our panel is considering the free Microsoft Office smartphone apps as a serious alternative. This poses the question of whether or not smartphones may find a place as a document editing tool in the business world as well.

The smartphone apps may be free, but lack many important features that are available on the iPad and laptop versions. In addition to features, portability seems to be a factor. Today’s “on-the-go” lifestyle means that document editing on a smartphone may be preferable to carrying a bulky laptop, or even a tablet. On the down side, small screens and lack of features may discourage users from choosing apps like Office for smartphones, even if they’re free. Our panel was also concerned about storage space on their devices. These apps can take up a considerable amount of space on users’ iPads, and 67.71% claimed that this alone would discourage them from downloading the software.

Cloud services have been available for some time, but there is no question that Microsoft has arrived very late to the game. This may be due to the company’s efforts to streamline their products for unconventional devices, or a simple lack of attention to the tablet market. In either case, this is definitely an interesting move for Microsoft. One pitfall of releasing the apps for the iPad is that this may have a negative effect on the sales of non-Apple tablets, including Microsoft’s own Surface. In addition, the Office for iPad apps are significantly better looking and much more streamlined than other versions. This may influence which tablets businesses buy for their employees, and ultimately hurt Microsoft’s Surface sales as well. Apple will receive a percentage of Office 365 subscription fees sold through iTunes, which will also add to the funding of their competition. All of these factors make the late release of the Office for iPad apps a very interesting decision. Only time will tell if Microsoft’s new launch was a brilliant strategy, or too-little-too-late, but in any case, the world is taking a second look at the tablet as a serious business tool.

Microsoft Office for iPad Infographic (3)

Louisiana Statewide Survey

qSample’s pulse report is a collection of short research studies conducted each month, using one of the ten specialty panels currently owned and managed by qSample. We believe the survey results from these studies are of interest and we want to share them with you. The reports will be presented in an infographic, depicting research results on various topics. The monthly infographics will always reflect current events and topics of interest.

This past month, we tapped our Likely Voter panel to gauge Louisiana residents’ attitudes towards topics that affect them. The survey was deployed to our Louisiana Panel.

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by Rudly Raphael