Using Real-Time Analytics to Enhance Viral Campaigns
One of the greatest shortcomings of most analytics software is that it is non real time. With Google Analytics, you can easily expect to wait 18 to 24 hours for data to begin to pull in from the previous day. Most server-side analytics runs daily, processing the archived logs of the previous 24 hours. However, when performing a social media / viral marketing campaign, it is imperative that you watch your traffic sources closely so that you can extend the legs of your viral campaign. There are a handful of real-time analytics softwares available on the web including Chartbeat and Visistat, for our purposes here we are going to use Clicky, the real time analytics software used by Virante when running viral campaigns.
Giving Your Campaign Legs via Forums
One of the least talked-about and respected, but incredibly important, aspects of Social Media marketing are forums and discussion boards. I know, they are soooo 2001, but they serve as an important first-touch point for highly-targeted traffic. While only a fraction of users on Digg, Reddit or Delicious may be interested in your topic, there are most likely dozens of forums and discussion boards that are highly interested in your topic and also happen to be members of these communities.
You can’t get away with spamming your content on these boards, though, because discussion boards tend to be more heavily moderated and you would be noticed unless you were already a regular, frequenting the site and posting. Instead, we use real-time analytics to identify discussion boards that have already picked up our story and then go participate in the discussion.
Using Clicky, you can quickly get an idea of what discussion boards and forums are talking about you, even if those discussion are behind a login.
It is absolutely essential that you catch these forum links as they come in, which makes Clicky’s spy feature even more valuable. You can watch your referrers as they pour into the site. By catching these forums early, you can participate in time to build up additional buzz while there is still time for these users to go and vote on the major social networks like Digg and Reddit. You can even drop hints like, “Yeah, just saw this on Digg too (link). Looks good, but …” to encourage users to take a further look.
Identifying Social Bookmarking Networks Early
Using real-time analytics lets you also identify the social networks that are starting to turn your way. This is key as you can monitor your social progress by traffic. Here is the really important part and pay attention…
Because Digg uses Personalization in Upcoming and Reddit uses Personalization in Homepages (subreddits), traffic is now an incredibly important indicator of success, not just votes. For example, getting a large number of votes on Reddit may be useless if you are stuck in a subreddit that is not getting much attention. Additionally, people have a habit of reposting your story using multiple URLs to Digg and Reddit. With real-time analytics, you can find these quickly and leave comments letting readers know where the original post is.
Real time analytics can help you keep track of how much traffic you are receiving from these sources so you can step in if that traffic slows or a smaller, niche social media site looks promising. We like Clicky because it actually breaks this data down for you by Social Media source, but other Real-Time analytics tools may have similar features.
Once we select the Social Media source, we can peer into both total visitors and watch the latest visitors, giving us incredible knowledge as to where we can go and make a difference in the campaign.
Being Smarter on Twitter
Unfortunately, it can be hard to track all of attention you are receiving on Twitter as people use different titles, links and shortener services, etc. to tell people about your content. With real-time analytics, you can identify who is tweeting and retweeting about you based on referrer, rather than trying to craft search queries and needing to run them over and over again.
For example, if you were running a similar viral and people began tweeting your story, you could use your various friends etc. to retweet rather than try to initiate the wave of tweeting altogether. Just find that one popular user who talked you up. You can also look for negative information being tweeted so you can know what needs to be improved on-the-fly, rather than finding out in your comments hours later that 1 guy found a mistake in your post, killing the buzz because you hadn’t found it yet.
Real Time Analytics: Essential to Viral Marketing Success
If you or your social media company is relying solely on 1 analytics package that just updates daily, you are going to miss out on a lot of opportunities. There are tons of packages out there available for free, Clicky, Chartbeat and Visistat to name a few. You could even home-brew your own system if you like, but don’t let your traffic get away with you. Those first few hours are essential to proper viral incubation. The story is vulnerable to even small amounts of negative publicity.