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.

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.

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.

Gap widens between top NZ news sites

Nielsen Top Websites General News Category Jan 2012

Latest data from Neilsen show that Stuff.co.nz/news has extended its lead in the General News category with growth of 29 per cent in the number of NZ-based average daily unique browsers when compared to the same category ranking a year ago.

The Wellington-based site, owned by Fairfax, now enjoys a lead of 48 per cent over long-time rival nzherald.co.nz, owned by APN.

Just six months ago, the margin between the top two sites was 25 per cent.

Stuff.co.nz/news has increased its New Zealand-based news visitors by more than ten per cent while nzherald.co.nz/news has lost almost seven per cent since August of last year.

Third-placed yahoo.co.nz/news is down slightly in the same period, while fourth-placed tvnz.co.nz/news and fifth-placed BBC (no URL cited) have both gained slightly.

All figures are based on NZ domestic traffic to the news sections of the various websites. They do not indicate total visitors or page views.

Mary Meeker’s internet trends for 2011

KPCB Internet Trends (2011)

As always, Mary Meeker’s analysis of internet stats makes fascinating reading. Her latest presentation occurred yesterday at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

Her graph in slide 42 shows that Google’s revenue has risen to almost the same as the revenue of all US newspapers combined. Of course, Google’s revenue has grown impressively, but newspaper revenue has fallen even more quickly.

And it’s interesting to see (slide 16) how the sale of Google Android phones has increased much more rapidly than the sale of iPhones.

Top-of-mind websites in New Zealand

New Zealand website awareness

In response to the question "Please type up to 5 domain names that you have seen or heard of recently." Source: Colmar Brunton. Base: Weighted results representative of New Zealand's online population (n=1014)

Ask a New Zealander to name a website domain name, and here’s what you get.

Trademe.co.nz, the country’s most-visited website, is the domain most often mentioned by Kiwis, followed by facebook.com, google.com, stuff.co.nz and nzherald.co.nz.

The information comes from the Colmar Brunton survey Internet Domain Names in New Zealand, commissioned by the New Zealand Domain Name Commission.

As such, it isn’t a fully random sample. Instead, the researchers chose half their respondents (n=508) to be people who own or manage a domain name, and the other half (n=506) to be those who do not own or manage a domain name.

Although the researchers do not comment on it in their summary, I’m guessing this over-represents domain owners/managers when compared with the population.

Nevertheless, the research does break out results for the two groups.

In the case of the chart above, the top 5 sites remain the same when only domain owners/managers are responding. For the non owner/managers, nzherald.co.nz drops to number six, being edged out by hotmail.com.

Among the other findings:

  • 15% of respondents didn’t know what a domain name was.
  • Most respondents felt there were already enough top-level domains available.
  • Two thirds of respondents would prefer to have a .nz domain for their website. (Or does this mean they would prefer to visit a site with a .nz domain? The wording of the research summary is ambiguous, so I am inferring a bit here.)
  • Domain owners/managers have higher acceptance of .com domains, but still prefer .nz
  • Slightly more than half of respondents liked the idea of having domains with no second level, as in mydomainname.nz. This is the system used in Canada and I suppose it might reduce confusion between .co.nz, .org.nz, .net.nz, etc. But I’d hate to contemplate another rush to stake out the new streamlined domains. Don’t we give the domain registrars enough money already?