“Bored at Work” Network – a Web 2.0 Expo presentation by Jonah Peretti

Why do some ideas go viral and others don’t?

People who are “bored at work” are a network bigger than any major network: CBS NBC etc

If ordinary people see something online and start passing it around THEY decide what is popular out of main stream media. And today they can make a huge impact on a brand.

Who can make something popular on the web?

Duncan Watts said there are not some special people who do all the viral work – it’s the network that makes it popular.

Take for example in real life: a forest fire – once a spark hits a dry forest and the forest starts burning the whole forest will burn down – no one would say there was a “special spark” that burned the whole forest down.

If you remember The Tipping Point – East village hipsters wore lots of ridiculous clothes besides Hush Puppies but the problem is after the fact influential people seem like the key factor.

The problem is hindsight bias is not a repeatable event in the future.

Here are 6 strategies and solutions for predicting success with the Bored at Work Network

Solution 1 – Contagious media – include some sort of social imperative like “how to make your husband behave” – there is a social reason to share this on the Bored at Work network and it will catch fire. Other examples include: Nike Sweatshop, The Rejection Line. Limits of contagious media – is that it is usually silly or free, shocking, simple of fun. But businesses create drag on the message because they aren’t simple or free shocking etc.

Solution 2 – Big Seed Marketing – small seeds lead to failure: 10 people recruit 5 people etc. But sub viral growth is still growth. Big seeds lead to success: 1 million people recruit 500K people etc – examples: Tide Cold Water by P&G can seed a campaign with 4 million people and got 40,000 extra. Oxygen media seeded with 7,000 people and got 30,000 more.

Solution 3 – Multi Seed Marketing – try lots of creative ideas – nobody can predict what will be popular – test to see what is working using real data. Then Big Seed the stuff that is working best. More data enables more creativity. Example: BuzzFeed – Sarah Palin vs Tina Fey – most of the traffic was from the bored at work network. Unlike the Carl Sagan blog-a-thon which didn’t catch fire with the bored at work network, surprisingly. Got to try lots of ideas and remove what isn’t working.

Solution 4 – Mullet Strategy – best for businesses – all business up front but party in the back. Ex Huffington post – all business upfront with huge comment section in the back. The nerve center of the Huffington post is like Home shopping network for blogging. YouTube and Digg manage seeds in the same way the most popular stuff sits on the front page – as it starts to decrease they pull it and replace with a hotter story.

Solution 5 – Personality Disorders – examples include Perez Hilton, Ron Paul, Apple lovers. Help your audience engage with others passion. Especially appetizing are personality disorders like: paranoid behavior, schizoid behavior, antisocial behaviors etc…

Solution 6 – Learn from the Mormons – Mormons want you to be Mornom – make evangelism core to your strategy. Focus on the mechanics of how an idea spreads not just the idea itself.

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