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Trying to catch a virus

Posted on 2009.02.08 at 22:52
Current Mood: fullfull
Current Music: Higher and Higher - Jackie Wilson
The title of this post refers to viral marketing. If the term is unfamiliar to you, be aware that it is one of the hot buzzwords in many business circles right now. In the pre-internet days, the closest thing to it would have been called “word of mouth” marketing, but viral marketing is much more than that. It has a lot to do with the way information propagates over the internet. It means that you have to get the word out, and keep getting the word out, and find places where it can take root and flourish.

For me, this is all about trying to make a success out of my Skepticism Blog, of which I’ve written before. Note that I’ve added a link to it near the top left of this screen in the Navigation box.

Last night, I initiated a little experiment in Viral Marketing 101. In my Skepticism Blog, I fashioned a post about swimmer Michael Phelps. I should hasten to add that it was a completely legitimate post in terms of my topic, but it was also an attempt on my part to purposely craft a post on a current hot topic, particularly one that is currently ranking high on search engine hits. I wanted to see whether the mighty search engines might actually enable people to land on my little outpost.

The results were striking. That post has generated roughly ten times the usual number of hits on my blog for a single day. And since hits = pay, that’s a good thing. In this case, it’s also a good thing that I didn’t have to feel as if I were selling out just to get a lot of hits – it was a sincere post on my part, even if the original choice of subject matter was made according to different criteria than usual.

I suppose the next question is this: Does this mean that before I write a post, I’ll now be scanning the newswires to see what the hot topics are? Well, no. For the most part, I have to follow the dictates of my inner muses and whims. That’s the only way this is going to be something I can do on a long-term basis. But yes, I will bear this lesson in mind, and when a current news item resonates for me and fits the parameters of my blog, I will see what I can fashion.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, 75% of the traffic on Examiner.com is generated through search engines. Part of what should happen is that a certain percentage of people will find a post of mine through Google, they’ll like what they read, and they’ll start reading some of my other posts. Obviously, that sort of person represents a tiny percentage of net surfers, but the hope is that there will be a cumulative effect of a steadily increasing readership, particularly as I amass a greater backlog of posts that might be landed on by a surfer.

So that’s the Optimist’s Report. Back here on planet Earth, I still haven’t made a total of even $10 to date on this blog. But I’m still learning. I’m having fun and I’m picking up a lot of little tips and skills that should come in handy in other pursuits, so I’m determined to give this a fair shot and see what I might make of it.

Postscript — One surprise bit of fun is that I was contacted the other day by a published author of skeptical literature who asked if he might send me a review copy of his latest book. He said he’d been reading my blog and liked my style. While his motives are obviously self-serving, I have no other reason to doubt his sincerity. At this point, it’s nice to hear that someone might value my input!

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