How I made a viral video

After 20 years running some pretty successful web publishing operations, I know I have a good sense of what people like to see and read online.

Over the recent Christmas holidays, I decided to put that knowledge to use in making what I hoped would be a popular video on Facebook for the business Cat Containment Systems which my wife and I own.

The video is simple, but it’s based on careful thinking about getting people interested in our product and inspiring them to share the video with their friends over the holidays.

Here’s a screenshot from Facebook just a few minutes ago.

Facebook.com/catfence post stats, 15 Jan 2017

Facebook.com/catfence post stats, 15 Jan 2017

In the past two and a half weeks, my simple little video has been watched 6.3 million times, and shared over a hundred thousand times.

There have been over over 13,000 comments – and many of these were along the lines of “where can I buy this?”.

What you don’t see from this data, however, is just as impressive and valuable:

  • The video has generated 18,000 likes of our Facebook page – which in turn generated more enquiries, and a ready audience for my subsequent Facebook posts.
  • The video generated 63 Facebook reviews of our product, with an average score of 4.8 out of 5 – and many of these reviews attracted comments and enquiries from other Facebook users.
  • People followed the URL at the end of the video to visit our website, where Google Analytics showed an enormous increase in traffic.
  • Hundreds of enquiries poured in via the contact form on our website.

And best of all, this was entirely free – apart from the time I’m spending answering enquiries!

Oh yeah, here’s the video. It’s not flashy – but it works.

On TV with the cats from Seacliffe Siberians

Whanau Living presenter Jenny-May Clarkson meets Siberian kitten JoJo.

Whanau Living presenter Jenny-May Clarkson meets Siberian kitten JoJo.

When I’m not building websites or managing digital performance for my clients, I have no shortage of other activities. One of the most rewarding is working with my wife Judee to help families with cat allergies.

Our small cattery, Seacliffe Siberians, produces low-allergen kittens and this morning we were featured on TV One’s Whanau Living programme with Jenny-May Clarkson.

The segment opens with Jenny-May meeting Judee and Mari, one of our low-allergen Siberians, in a car. This is typically how we introduce people to their kitten, so that they we can gauge their reaction to a particular kitten, unaffected by the other cats in our home.

The programme also features lots of shots of the J Litter kittens at play (they were about 7 weeks old when the video was recorded).

Old tech and new tech working together

Neil Sanderson ZL1NZ running the Twitter stream from ZL1ZLD Musick Point Radio

Running the Twitter stream from ZL1ZLD Musick Point Radio. Photo: Merv Thomas

I’ve always been fascinated by communications technology, and that’s been reflected in my career, starting out as a journalist/broadcaster, then as a writer and – for the past 15 years or so – in web publishing.

But for me it all began as a teenage ham radio operator. Back in those days, you had to pass rigorous examinations including sending and receiving Morse code. Then, before you could even think about using “voice” communications, you had to spend at least a year on the air “pounding brass”, and pass an even tougher exam including more Morse code, at higher speed. At this point, many hams put away their Morse key for good, but some of us still take pleasure in using what some have called “the original digital mode” of communication.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to enjoy old tech and new tech at the same time, as our radio club marked the 20th anniversary of the end of “professional” Morse code in New Zealand – the closure of the country’s marine coast radio stations. From our base at the historic Musick Memorial Radio Station, a former coast radio station in Auckland, we operated 14 hours continuously, and about half of that operation was using Morse Code.

It was wonderful to have about a dozen former operators from the station drop in for the event, and to see their eyes light up when they first heard Morse code coming from the operators’ console.

What about the new technology? Well, our operation was publicised around the world in advance using our club website, social media and online forums.

Then, on the day, as we changed frequencies every 30 minutes, I would post the current frequency and other information to our Twitter account.

In the photo above, my laptop (connected to the net by wifi of course) is sitting in front of some radio gear from the 1940s. Old tech and new tech, working together.

The content marketing deluge

You’ve probably noticed it already. Content everywhere, yet so much of it a waste of time. Marketing departments churning it out with a focus on quantity, not quality. Plus search engines serving it up as readily as they do the good stuff.

Doug Kessler, in this amusing presentation, warns that although poor content is still on the rise, people will start to reject it.

Meeker on mobile

Effective CPM on mobile internet

Analyst Mary Meeker believe we have only begun to see the growth of mobile usage.

But in her presentation on internet trends at the D10 conference today, she pointed out how low the returns are for businesses trying to monetise their mobile sites.

Average CPMs on mobile are a 5th of those on the desktop internet.

Average revenue per mobile user is 1.7 to 5 times lower than on the desktop internet.

Mary Meeker’s full presentation: Internet Trends

Companies need balance for content marketing success

Marketers are unbalanced, says a new report from Altimeter Group. (Insert your favourite marketing joke here.)

But in this case, it’s not counseling they need, rather a change in strategy to accommodate the trend away from advertising and towards content marketing.

In Content: The New Marketing Equation, Altimeter analyst Rebecca Lieb, writes:

Marketers are reeling from the enormous demands that continually creating and publishing media places not only on marketing departments, but also on the enterprise as a whole. Due to shifts in consumer attention, companies are challenged to move beyond episodic, short duration ‘push’ campaign initiatives into longer-term, often continual ‘pull’ marketing initiatives that require new strategic approaches.

Rebalancing resources, and company culture, to supply a stream of targeted, high quality content, will give organisations a marketing advantage, argues Lieb.

Her report is based on interviews with 56 representatives of B2B and B2C companies, and you can read it below.