Thursday, August 27, 2009

How hits happen

One of the things I find most fascinating in communications is how information is spread. In the old days traditional channels, and old fashioned word of mouth dominated but these days digital channels are very important, and crucually, can often be tracked.

Often with very big stories there is too much clutter to wade through to work out how the news is spread, and what the tipping points are, but the following are two examples, produced by myslef, looking at stories that have been nre-ignited after their original appearance.

1 - Spotify & iTunes

On the 10th August it was reported that Universal Music in Sweden were claiming that they received more revenue from Spotify than from iTunes. Great story - but despite it being translated into English, the story did not gain much traction.

Here is the original English version of the story, and here is the pattern of spread in social media, produced using Radian6.

You can see that there was an original bump on 10th August and afterwards, and Radian6 shows that these included blog posts like this one, and tweets like this one, and it was posted as a comment to an article on Engadget. Of the 25 posts on the 11th August, 22 were on twitter, including this one by a user with nearly 2,000 followers. Yet the story quickly died, presumarly because it got lost in the noise.

The story got activated on the 25th, leading to 39 mentions in social media, followed by 182 the day after.

What activated it, and why did this work?

The answer is mainstream media. The Daily Telegraph produced this story (possibly seeded by Spotify), which then got picked up by bloggers like this one, and tweeters like this one. Many of these refer the Telegraph as their source. This shows the continued power of mainstream media, and of tweeters and bloggers with authority and a large audience.

2 - Guinness is Good For You.

This old advertising slogan from Guinness was investigated by American academics in 2003, as reported by the BBC at the time. However in late July this became the 4th most read story on the BBC website.

How did this suddenly take get re-ignited?

Again Radian6 helps us to find the answer.

It was posted as a link on the Motley Fool website on 27th July, as an intro to an article about Guinness' parent company.

This was re-posted on the Fodors forum, on 28th July, by frequent poster Hetismij, initiating a discussion about Ireland.

It was then picked up by tweeters, like this one, all posting the same BBC link, and then on the 29th July there were 126 posts mentioning the story.

The lesson from this one is again that it needs momentum on high traffic sites, and from popular and trusted people.

& of course, as both cases illustrate, the story has to be a good one too. But it has to get the right media push to work.

1 comment:

Amber said...


It's always *awesome* to see what kinds of research and insights people are pulling from Radian6. Thanks for posting, and for sharing it with your readers. Bookmarked for future reference. :)

Amber Naslund
Director of Community, Radian6

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