I got the scent of going viral on social media. Now I'm a bit confused.

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The previous few posts I've written have been accepted really well. They even went viral to some extent, which made me proud and happy. Now I feel a bit confused. It's obvious this can't happen each time, so I better just get used to my old 50-100 viewers per post. This puts me in an awkward situation, where past achievements rose my expectations, but to be realistic, I don't really expect this to happen again any time soon. But this doesn't mean I will stop trying and it surely doesn't mean I won't consider everything I can get my hands to try to understand the causality behind it.

Going viral is every marketer's and blogger's dream, but sadly something you can't plan or do on demand. You can try to set up the scene and raise the odds, but bottom line is - it happens or it doesn't happen. Millions of variables, correct timing, correct readers, correct everything and a lot of luck is what can bring you extended exposure and virality. In my case, there are probably 5 posts that made it more or less. Analyzing their performance and behavior, combining Google analytics and other tools available, I can get a bit of insight into what's happened.

Digg

My post about Snow Leopard had some exposure on Digg, but only because I asked a few friends of mine to digg it after I published it (thanks guys!). Otherwise, what they say about Digg is totally true, power users control most of the content and you are nothing without the initial push. My other posts got a few diggs, but mostly none.

Google images

I have two posts that are quite popular on Google images, thanks to two different specific parts of information they contain. Lego succeeded because of mentioning the Star Wars minifig poster, while What's hot on the web made it because of a Demotivator. Google images is not really something you would like as a power referrer, but still better than nothing.

Reddit

The post about Arthur C. Clarke's vision of the internet came strong on Reddit, which is probably the geekiest community of my social publishing channels. Reddit loves sci-fi and I was able to come to page 5 of the front page, which is quite an achievement. And it's much more accessible than Digg.

Twitter

A few days before Google Buzz came out (lucky me), I did an extensive study of Facebook and Twitter and speculated on how things will turn out. Somewhere in between I was retweeted by Twitter_Tips, which has 160.000+ followers, and things took their own course after that. Pretty cool, it got me a total of 135 retweets and a lot of visitors.

These are the simple facts behind the success. I can conclude that power users are really important for social media virality. That's why I will use the social media as much as I can even further and hopefully make it again someday. I am also building a better sharing engine, which should be online soon and also add up a few points. Besides, I did a bit of research on how to go viral in general or on specific platforms, f.i. Twitter or Digg, which made me reconsider about using better titles, different post times and other approaches that could influence my exposure.

There is probably one component which I haven't mentioned that much until now, but is surely critical. You will never go viral if your content or product/service isn't good. Luckily this is something I have full control over, and I promise it will be my primary focus in the future. I still have miles to go, but for less than a year since I started blogging, I'm probably quite well on the way. Content is king and that's what blogging is mostly about. Now I just need to get lucky again.

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written 21.2.2010 18:22 CET on chronolog
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