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Viral Posts Don’t Necessarily Mean an Epidemic

September 12, 2017 - influencer content marketing, Share of voice - , ,
By: Yolanda Fintschenko

Our last post about how Kubernetes won the share of voice war with Docker and dominates the market of open source container orchestration engines just went viral!

http://designextensions.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/OfficeHighFive.gif

That is so cool! Yet, while we were patting ourselves on the back, we caught a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror and realized that post visits were just another vanity metric.

Why? Because based on the types of referrals, comments, etc., we weren’t creating an epidemic of eager customers ready to sign contracts with us to create technical content. We were creating an epidemic of developers interested in marketing for perhaps the first and only time. Viral content only matters when it increases share of voice with market-qualified leads (MQLs). Not just with the world.

Why posts go viral

There is no viral button. You don’t get to decide when content goes viral or not. But, there are a few key ingredients: controversy, timeliness, interest … Oh yeah, and a killer title.

Controversy

Nothing makes someone want to read what you wrote more than feeling like you are validating their opinions or challenging their opinions. But some opinions are invested with more emotion than others. In the world of developers, understanding why an orchestration tool dominates, particularly when it beats an industry leader’s product, is an opinion with emotion attached to it. Suggesting that some of the success is a result of share of voice rather than offering an analysis of technical advantages is thought-provoking, particularly to people in technical roles.

Timeliness

With so many new products coming to market in the continuous software delivery space, understanding why some products win is apt.  Suggesting that it takes a technical play to capture a marketing metric disrupts the way people think about marketing and technical merit at a time when people are asking: Why this product, not that?

Interest

Yep. It’s just interesting. The surprising rise of Kubernetes, and the unexpected dominance in the marketing world created by essentially good technical strategy is counterintuitive to some, obvious to some, interesting to both.  Everyone likes a good David and Goliath story in their industry.

So, why no epidemic?

Our Kubernetes post was a very interesting post to people with a technical background. And they are visiting our site in droves! But, they aren’t market-qualified leads.

“What?” you say. “But isn’t it a content marketing post? About share of voice?”

Yep—It is a marketing post that captured the interest of the segment of the market that cares about technical topics in software development, not technical topics in software development marketing. And that market segment does not buy content.

It’s not a bad thing to increase visits to our website.  It builds brand awareness that will eventually lead to a long-term rise in traffic, possibly even with market-qualified leads making up that traffic. But the short-term success of one post does not an epidemic make.

Could it be related to share of voice?

Ding-ding-ding-ding! Got it in one. The metric that will matter, the one that will drive the sustained growth of website visitors, is the extent to which Fixate IO dominates the share of voice conversation. One post gone viral increases our share of voice, but not enough to pat ourselves on the back for taking out villages.

The takeaway

Viral posts can feel good, and eventually contribute to an increase in share of voice, lead generation, and website unique visitors. However, the speed at which a viral post can bump up your company’s profile depends a lot on who that post infects.  If it is replicated in a market segment just outside your target, your company could still reap the benefit eventually. But you haven’t slayed anything yet.


Yolanda is a scientist, writer, marketer, coach and avid runner who lives and works in Livermore, CA.  She founded Common SciSense, a marketing company for technical products, and co-founded founderTRACTION, lean marketing services for startups.