Retweets and Viral Marketing

by Geethalakshmi 2010-12-01 14:41:32

Retweets and Viral Marketing

Twitter's strengths as a messaging service come from the fact that the messages are short, and the service is easy to use. If someone can type within the character limit and handle a few basic concepts, Twitter is actually easier to use than many instant-messaging clients, and doesn't even require an install on a computer.

An example of these basic concepts is the retweet, which is sending a tweet one likes or approves of to her list of followers. Retweets account for a lot of Twitter traffic, and form a major part of the site's ability to promote viral content. If a re tweet gathers enough steam, it can make the rounds of the entire web in a matter of minutes.

So how exactly does this work? The answer lies in the concept of overlapping spheres. Consider a Venn diagram, where two or more circles represent certain spheres of influence, and the overlap describes a mutual sphere. In this case, the overlap is the retweet, and the spheres represent the followers of the re-tweeter, and the followers of his followers.

Different Interests and Common Ground

The idea takes advantage of the sheer diversity of interests on the web. The idea of the polymath or Renaissance man - which is to say the person who displays interest and skills in many fields - is returning to the world now that people can rapidly research all manner of topics.

So, suppose that a local ice cream shop we shall call Brand A has a Twitter following of 1,200 people, mostly from their local town. There is probably some overlap as well - some of these 1,200 are likely to be followers of one another, but they also will have more followers outside Brand A's audience just by the law of probability.

Thus, Brand A sees a tweet they find interesting. It can be a link to a video, a web article talking about the process of making ice cream, or an interview with Brand A's staff in the local newscast that somehow left a blooper in the broadcast. Brand A commits to the retweet, and the audience gets it.

Someone in the audience overlaps with it, and retweets as well to their audience. Perhaps it's a journalism student who saw the broadcast and knows how big of a goof leaving the blooper in must be, so he shares it with his journalism friends.

The point of this is that it need not necessarily be about the brand itself. Perhaps Brand A's retweet about ice cream gets less attention than the one about the newscast. Either way, Brand A gets a lot of attention as the source, and the video has gone viral for all the strangest reasons.

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