Making 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.

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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?

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Twitter reschedules maintenance to keep Iran news flowing

Protest in Iran

From Anderson Cooper’s blog at CNN.com.

…senior officials say the State Department asked Twitter to refrain for going down for periodic scheduled maintenance at this critical time to ensure the site continues to operate. Bureau’s and offices across the State Department, they say, are paying very close attention to Twitter and other sites to get information on the situation in Iran.


…officials say the internet, and specifically social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, are providing the United States with critical information in the face of a crackdown on journalists by Iranian authorities.

Twitter, as vital national security infrastructure?

» Cyberwar guide for Iran Elections

» June 20 update: Twitter on the baricades: Six lessons learned

» Photo by Hamed Saber on Flickr, June 15, 2009

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Facebook as a marketing platform

If you thought Facebook was just about staying in touch with friends, or finding long-lost schoolmates, then you’ll be blown away by Facebook Fanatic, a book whose authors say they will reveal:

  • 75 Ways to Buzz Your Band
  • Popularity Tips and Tricks to Make You Facebook Royalty
  • Coolest Profile Names and URLs
  • Get Celebrities and Famous Bands as Your Friend
  • Poking and Prodding, Oh My
  • Rock the Facebook Vote
  • Be a Blog Hog
  • Climbing the Wall
  • Go Underground on Facebook with Little Used Privacy Settings
  • Make Money Off Your Videos
  • 55 Ways for Authors to Buzz Their Book
  • 70 Ways to Get Films Recognized
  • 40 Ways to Zoom a Political Campaign

As the promo on amazon.com says: “Read today and rule Facebook tomorrow!”

I haven’t read the book, but maybe I’m not dreaming big enough. 😉

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Comparing top sites: US and NZ

Hitwise top 15 sites - US and NZ - April 2007

It’s always fun (well, I think so, at least) to compare web traffic stats. Today I was having a look at the top sites identified by Hitwise for the United States and New Zealand. (Unfortunately Hitwise doesn’t report Canadian data.)

First off, it’s important to note that the data refer to market share (expressed as a percentage) of all visits to sites by users based in the specified country. That’s not the way most websites report their rankings, which are more often based on page impressions or unique (unrepeated) visitors during a period. Moreover, the Hitwise data are extrapolations based on samples obtained from co-operating ISPs in the specific countries, not actual counts.

OK, now to the comparison. A few things I found noteworthy:

  • No news website appears in the US top 15. But two (nzherald and stuff) appear on the NZ list. Yes, Kiwis are always on the lookout for news (especially if it’s about rugby). 😉
  • Auction site eBay is number 8 on the US list. But home-grown auction site Trade Me is number 3 in NZ. In fact, more than a quarter of all New Zealanders are registered members of Trade Me, which was sold last year to publishing group Fairfax for NZ$700 million. Now that’s a success story. I find it much nicer to use than eBay and just wish they’d expand out of the Antipodes.
  • In the US, the social networking action is on MySpace and, increasingly, Facebook. In NZ, British-based Bebo dominates. A Silicon Valley rumour has Yahoo looking at buying Bebo for around US$1 billion.
  • YouTube and Wikipedia are popular in both countries. (At least the kids are doing their homework while they watch videos?)
  • In both countries, web traffic is dominated by search and email.
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Resourceful students cover campus massacre

A student newspaper editor who was only three weeks into the job led coverage of yesterday’s massacre of more than 30 people at Virginia Tech.

Amie Steele’s team at Collegiate Times not only published an expanded 16-page newspaper this morning, they kept their website updated throughout the events yesterday despite an overload that forced them to change servers mid-stream.

They posted a victims list overnight, and identified the killer, Cho Seung-Hui, an hour before his name was released by police.

All of this at a time when many of them must have been worried about, or possibly mourning, friends on campus.

Joe Strupp describes what went on at Collegiate Times in an article at Editor & Publisher.

Other students published their own accounts of the shootings, using blogs, Facebook and Wikipedia, as Mathew Ingram summarizes.

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