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How I Inadvertantly Invented Social Sharing

How I Inadvertantly Invented Social Sharing

What would social media be without the cross-platform share?

We take for granted the fact that we can grab one piece of content that we like and by adding a small piece of code, automagically post a piece of music, meme, or video.  It didn’t just appear one day, it was born out of a marketing campaign necessity and was overlooked for it’s importance, at the time, by a young group of Internet marketers.  We invented the cross-platform share and never staked our claim to fame.

How It Happened

I was a noob.  I may have within my first few months of my digital career.  The one thing I had on my side was a small but well-balanced team of co-conspirators and a sound work ethic.  As a secondary sell-in from Paid Search, I offered what my version of ‘Media’ was at the time.   Not too bad, to be honest.  I had the right idea by creating an integrated approach.  The campaign capitalized on the already existing explosive traffic source from, at the time (2006), one of the 5 or 6 big hitter costume etailers.

(Behavioral) Retargeting?  You betcha, that was a buy from Fetchback in their early days when CPM was a flat $2.  On the frontside of the campaign, to acquire new traffic, we used a social media contest via Brickfish.  For continued engagement and earned media opportunity, we felt that people might have wanted to visually express their excitement for Halloween by posting a picture of their costume, from our client’s home-site, directly to Myspace.  Mind you, in 2006 Myspace was the juggernaut and Facebook was simply regarded as a wannabe.  Twitter was a zygote.  As necessity is the mother of invention and there were no plugins to do such a precise thing it was up to us to figure out in-house.

You wanted to add video, music, link or a despicably ugly background?  Piece of cake, Myspace allowed all of those within their environment and if you knew a little HTML you could download and then upload profile destroying themes.  The offsite push share was virtually unheard of and possibly completely non-existent.  Until we launched this beauty:

share button

 It wasn’t prettiest button or shareable unit, but it was ours.  The numbers were hardly provoking, but we arrived at nearly 10,000 of these push shares to Myspace for the campaign from a few million potential site visitors.  We considered it a drop in the bucket and not a worthy future pursuit.  DOH!

The Build

I couldn’t tell you to this day how it was built.  The dev guy we had at the time was a young fellow from the Republic of Congo.  At the time his English was spotty, but he was a magic man.  I don’t ever remember a particular task not being ‘figured out’ by him.  For this campaign I asked for a button to integrate on site that would grab content and push it to Myspace.   Completely dev-incompetent, I hadn’t the slightest idea how involved or time intensive my request actually was.  Luc smiled when I described the project and then coyly promised that he would have it ready (in 10 days) for the campaign launch.  The commitment I inadvertently asked of him was at least 6 days of working until almost midnight prior to the launch, but he pulled it off in only two revisions.  We pushed it live to the site and then checked weekly (from server logs) how often the code was accessed.  There were no tracking platforms for social.

In conclusion, we proved our crazy hypothesis that people did have an interest in sharing content from sites directly to their Myspace wall.  What we didn’t predict was that we would out think consumers.  If very few (if any) buttons existed, then we shouldn’t have expected usage to widespread or understood.  We were crippled by an education factor from users trust or button knowledge.  That 10,000 is a flash in the pan by new standards for quality content, but then again, the expectation for content quality has multiplied just as fast.

Damn, should have capitalized on that idea…


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The Day I Met Seth Godin

Seth Godin Chat

In 2009 I was at a point in my marketing agency career that I knew I would have at least a small amount of staying power.

Not that I was necessarily a big shot, but being booked for two pretty sizable speaking engagements taking me to the exotic locales of Minneapolis and NYC gets you feeling pretty proud.

In Minnesota, I happened to be presenting about display advertising in the session prior to Seth Godin. We were sitting next to each other in the speakers lounge as I spent a few minutes focusing on my notes. Actually, he sat next to me in a fuss as he was frustrated with the connectivity and the lack of attention he was receiving from the event hosts; he disrupted me from my meditative state.

Recognizing him immediately, I took the opportunity to introduce myself. We shook hands and I asked where he was from, ‘New York’ being the answer. Procuring traditional small talk, I mentioned that I would be in NYC within the following few weeks to sit on a Behavioral Retargeting panel.

‘What do you expect the weather to be like?’ I coyly asked.
In response, he spouted the canned snark, ‘I have a deal with the local weatherman that they can’t talk about Social Media, and I don’t predict the weather.’

Well, great, I had one chance to make friends with the most recognizable Digital Marketing talking-head in the country and I piss him off.

I’ve thought long and hard about that interaction since and wondered where it all went wrong. Buddha might say that it didn’t go wrong at all since I learned something. It went wrong.

In some imaginary world, I impress Mr. Godin into believing I am his heir to the digital marketing throne, he legally adopts me, I shave my head and am groomed into his protege. Afterwards I sell 1 million books worldwide with my face on the front cover and get frequent calls from CNN for my valuable input.

What went wrong?

The answer now is as clear as day, I gave him an opportunity to retort a canned response with my objective question. Had I asked him to produce a subjective statement, he would have likely been more engaged and able to offer real insight. Lo and behold, I would have simply needed to ask him what his favorite midtown Pizza is. That’s it! It’s not an answer I can easily Google and find out for myself in 2 seconds because I will be flooded with differing opinions. Seth’s midtown pizza recommendation would illicit a response based on self-discovery, of which is one of the strongest sharing influences.

Yelp is full of independent reviews from people that have discovered their new favorite (or least favorite) restaurant, but nobody keeps a running tally on individual weather reports. People are passionate about responses that could have a reasonable amount of contest or debate.

The same holds true when seeking blog or social engagement. You can enhance the response rate of your content by seeking reader responses that are fed by self-discovery and or debatability.

What is the best pizza in your neighborhood, anyways?


How I Inadvertantly Invented Social Sharing

What would social media be without the cross-platform share? We take for granted the fact...
article post

The Day I Met Seth Godin

In 2009 I was at a point in my marketing agency career that I knew I would have at least...
article post