Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas Hardcover – Aug 23 2011
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About the Author
Dan Zarrella is an award-winning social media scientist at HubSpot. He has a background in web development and combines his programming capabilities with a passion for social marketing to study social media behavior from a data-backed position and teach marketers scientifically grounded best practices.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Not so. In fact, I should have known better. Anything stamped "Domino Project" is almost a sure bet. This is no exception.
Here's the intro paragraph to help align your brain to the following content:
"If you've read about social media or been to any marketing conferences, you've probably heard tons of advice like "love your customers," "engage in the conversation," "be yourself," and "make friends." I call this "unicorns-and-rainbows advice." Sure, it sounds good and it probably makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. But it's not actually based on anything more substantial than "truthiness" and guesswork."
But wait, it gets better.
In addressing the Spread of Ideas (or Viralness, the favorite meme of social media marketers everywhere), Dan developed a simple hierarchy, similar to Maslow:
1- "The person must be exposed to your content. This means that the person has to be following you on Twitter, be a fan of your page on Facebook, subscribe to your email list, and so on.
2- The person must become aware of your specific piece of content (the idea you want to spread). He has to read your tweet or open your email message.
3- The person must be motivated by something (generally in the content itself) in order to want to share the idea with his contacts.
Now, at this point you're going "Isn't this Seth Godin's Idea Virus all over again?"
Well yes. And no. Because quite a few years have elapsed. What worked then (Seth giving away a PDF to drive book sales at, uh, Borders...;-) could be construed as noise now. Unless you've been busy building an audience and a platform - which is the REAL focus of the book.
Oh, and metrics. METRICS. Measuring social media results is something Dan doesn't take lightly. And neither should you.
There are graphs. There are charts. And there are meaningful baselines to work from. The pie is not in the sky. It's on your (social media marketing) plate. Get your slice.
Here's one of Dan's finishing thoughts:
"Now you know better. You know how to see through the unicorns-and-rainbows myths. Don't listen to the snake-oil salesmen when they deceive you with their prescriptions for exotic tonics. You have science now. Marketing shouldn't be based on luck. You can produce results from social media that are reliable and repeatable. You have control.
For social media experts, there will be some "duh" level content. But even so, it's sprinkled liberally with plenty of new "a-HA!" insights to make even those boring old standards take on new color.
I'm giving it 5-Stars. Not because it's Seth's label. (Though I long to be on Domino... someday... someday...).
Because it's relevant. Fast-acting (read it before your next marketing meeting - and rock the house). Fun. And makes sense.
BTW: Hubspot is also a cool company. Dharmesh Shah and Mike Volpe are awesome folks in the industry, who don't compromise. And have set new standards (if you haven't used their Website Grader, do it today. It's free, and will get you started on the road to REAL online optimization - we're just pissed they give it away - we wanted to sell a similar service for $$$).
Other people in this genre' worth watching include David Meerman Scott (one of my very favorites). Start here: The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly - all of his works are excellent. You can also get a taste on his blog, WebInkNow.com.
Chris Brogan is legend: The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue
Ann Handley rocks - Total Stat Queen: Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (New Rules Social Media Series)
To craft your own social media goodness, here's the writing tool of champions (includes social media keyword search results and other fun tools): Novel Writing Software - ThoughtOffice Muse Creative Writing Software Suite Mac OSX - Windows XP-7
If you don't know Guy Kawasaki, you're clinically dead. Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
And nothing is sweeter than making your social media efforts into your passionate living. Nobody says it better than Hugh MacLeod: Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination
That's a rap, folks. Get social. Measure results. Build your platform. Engage. And have a blast on the way.
Quickly tiresome is combative language describing all the bad guys out there. A little goes a long way, and I appreciate that yes, there are too many of them. But the negativity is so pervasive it feels immature - after several times of these descriptions and many more to come, it becomes the feeling you get when somebody insecure it putting down others so male themselves seem smarter. Ugh.
Many of the paragraphs simply didn't flow together; like a collection of thoughts strung together to sound really intelligent but actually isn't anything more than veneer.
Yet as I read the book I maintained hope of a silver lining because after all, it's the "science", design and engineering (power word, show me more) of contagious ideas. All the right words, bravo. I see the book focuses on 3 sections: Exposure, Attention, and Motivation and am excited about some solid, sink my teeth in strategies that I can follow. Nothing of the sort was in this book.
Why are there no solid, sink-your-teeth in strategies and what is there instead? The book was simply a collection of "scientific" "studies" that mostly the author conducted, loosely grouped into a few categories. I know science. The "science" in this book is simply unprofessional, flimsy and undocumented and frankly unworthy of my time (large data sets do not mean the research is superb), despite the author's emphasis of the scientific method. If I can't trust the methodology it all becomes a blur of page after page after page of charts with explanations and antedotes that I shrug at - maybe it's true, maybe it's useful, perhaps not. Starting with criticisms of charlatans, and then providing nothing academic of his own, I found it all ironic.
The final let-down was at the end: "Measure your ROI" - naturally I think "great, show me HOW to measure ROI." Nope. This section is only telling me to DO measure my ROI. Well, duh. Hi freshman year of business college. In about a page of blathering about how you really should do it, the only thing that comes close to telling me HOW to do this is "Getting simple referral reports from a free analytics provider is a great first step". That's it. Wow. And then the next section whisks away to "Once you're actually measuring how much money social media activity is making you..."
Helpful items were some of the "studies" that were relevant to me such as retweetable words, best times of day to email and so on, assuming they are correct.
I don't mean to be overly harsh. I am confident the author knows a great deal about the subject more than me, and that I would learn a lot on his blog (in fact, I think the author could have fleshed out a full, useful book from this but simply wanted to make a quick buck - it's a bit shameful according to my worldview and I think it cheapens a person's brand.) This book simply wasn't it, and I am sad that I wasted my money on it. It did not live up to its title one bit.
The author starts off by building his framework on three points. For your ideas to be more contagious, you must:
1. Increase the number of people exposed to your content.
2. Create more attention-grabbing content.
3. Include powerful calls to action.
Following this, the author provides relevant data to prove his claims. This information is invaluable, and very helpful to anyone who uses social media at all. For instance:
Do you know if it helps or hurts to call yourself a guru (or author, speaker, founder)?
Do larger groups or more active small groups spread ideas faster?
Are negative or positive ideas more contagious?
Should you talk about yourself?
How often should you share content?
What is the best day and time to attract "retweeters"?
What is the best time to blog for your click rate? For comments?
All of the answers to these questions, and many more, are in this book. Each section is short and to the point, no more than four paragraphs and a visual graph of the data that backs it up. This is a book that will pay for itself easily, and the information contained in it is valuable to every business, author, and marketer. Highly Recommended.
Instead of the usual 'rainbows and unicorns' myths and untruths that lots of 'social media experts' talk about, Dan Zarrella (Hubspot) has condensed his many years of expertise and data analysis into this highly readable and conversational book which will make you think differently about all you've done (and been told) before.
Includes data on the best days and times to Tweet or update your Blog / Facebook status, why people share things (and what makes them shareable), the most common trigger words that can help build up your 'Followers' / 'Fans' or encourage people to share and Retweet your content. Essential reading.
Part of operating a website is looking at the analytics, knowing which keywords are driving traffic to your site, what time of day is best to post new material, and providing what people are looking for. Studying those analytics can be the difference between a good website and a great one. Plenty has been written on optimizing websites, but what about social media? When is the best time to Tweet? What keywords get the most retweets? When should you post to Facebook? What post get "Liked" in Facebook? Do emails get opened more often during the week or on the weekend, how about in the morning or in the evening? Dan Zarrella decided to look at the analytics, test a number of theories, and answer these along with a host of other possible questions around social media, blogging, email marketing, and the creation of a contagious idea.
Lists, graphs, timelines, everything is laid out and straightforward in this short book that is chalk full of useful information.
Most times, content gets thrown out to the internet masses with hopes of getting noticed and, with a little bit of luck, going viral. Instead of working harder, Zarrella argues it's time to work smarter. Put yourself in the best position to succeed and the likelihood of success increases.