Tag Archives: viral marketing

Where Did You Get That Stat? The Nebulous Vortex of Sourcing Online Statistics

30 Mar

online researchOne recent morning, a client contacted me and asked me to find a widely cited statistic that supported the use of behavioral job interview techniques.

The client needed to show that behavioral interviews resulted in lower overall hiring costs, lower turnover rates or increased productivity. They needed the statistic within two hours for use in an important piece of long form content.

I didn’t have access to any paid research resources like JSTOR or a real library. I just had the internet. Sounds easy right?


One hour later I had located about twenty different human resources and hiring blogs all citing the same figure. Yet not one of these blogs or websites provided the source for this statistic:

Behavioral interviewing is said to be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10 percent predictive.

This is exactly the kind of statistic that the client wanted. But without a citation, this information was completely unfounded and useless. The closest I eventually got to locating a source for this statistic was a citation I found buried in a document from Google Scholar search:

1997 by Salgado, J.F. in “Personnel Selection Methods” – in C.L. Cooper and I.T. Robinson, International Review of Industrial Organizational Psychology New York: Wiley – it was shown that behavioral interviewing can increase by nearly 50 percent your chances of hiring the right employee.

Even the above citation does not help to ground the initial statistic in reality, especially because the citation was related to a 50 percent improvement in hire quality, while the other widely used but un-cited statistic claimed a 55 percent increase in hire quality. I also could not find this exact publication anywhere online. Ultimately, I came up empty-handed and recommended the client include a generalized statement such as, “Leading human resource experts believe behavioral interviewing may increase hire quality by more than 50 percent,” or avoid using a statistic altogether.

As a content marketer, I am always backing up my white papers, ebooks and blogs with powerful statistics and research that tell a story.  I’ve spent many hours combing through a network of poorly cited website and blog statistics hunting for the original source. However, this was the first  time I was completely unable to find a well-cited data point.

The Marketing Takeaways

Even from this negative experience, where I was unable to find a statistic, I learned something new about content marketing: the value of well-cited data online. Below are some content marketing takeaways that explain more about how businesses can use statistics and the absence of online citation to improve SEO and increase sales:

1. Create an online landing page filled with properly cited statistics for your industry or area of expertise.

Here is an example of a software provider in the hiring and background check industry with a static page sharing facts and statistics. In conducting research for this industry, I’ve used this page to find original sources and have seen countless other human resources and hiring blogs cite, copy, link to and borrow stats from this page. Using SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer, you can see that this page has a total of 725 backlinks pointing to it, which is a huge SEO signal to Google that this page is authoritative and relevant for key hiring and human resources topics and keywords.

2. Better yet, make your list of facts tweetable or easy to share.

HubSpot frequently posts blogs like this one, “The Ultimate List of 2012 Email Marketing Stats.”  Not only does HubSpot share stats and cite the sources, it also provides “Tweet This Stat” links that allow readers to instantly share the stat with their followers. This sharing functionality provides amazing word-of-mouth for HubSpot and generates social signals like Tweets and Retweets pointing back to HubSpot. (SEOs believe that Google is now factoring social signals into search results). Below is a screenshot of the tweet generated when you click “Tweet This Stat” on HubSpot’s blog:

Screen shot 2013-03-30 at 12.56.16 PM

The Marketing Benefits of  A Citation Heavy, Fact-Filled Landing Page

1. More Backlinks for SEO

A landing page full of cited facts and statistics can  help your business to generate more inbound backlinks. Other bloggers and website owners will link back to your page as a resource or as a source for their own writing.

2. Increased Conversions

With the right statistics, you can even tell a story that helps to convert more website visitors into leads or customers. For example, a plumbing company website could post a page full of statistics showing how much a homeowner can save on utility bills with a tankless water heater or low-flow toilet. A list of persuasive statistics  may convince a greater number of website visitors to call the plumbing company and get those money-saving fixtures installed.

Even though I did not find the stat I was looking for, this experience helped to identify an easy-to-implement SEO and marketing tactic for businesses. Now I have to work on posting my own “fast facts” page about how blogging and content marketing can increase leads and revenue for businesses! Stay tuned!

Photo Credit: Horia Varlan

Organic Viral Marketing & Smirnoff Ice’s Loss

18 Jun

Bro’s Icing Bro’s was a hilarious internet meme where young men would post pictures and videos – proof of forcing a friend to “take a knee” and chug an entire bottle of Smirnoff Ice- a sweet ‘girly’ malt beverage.

I am guessing that until now, men under the age of 30 were not Smirnoff Ice’s target demographic, unless they were buying the sugary drink for their much younger girlfriends.

So this silly website, set up by a college student, had young men across the country buying Smirnoff Ice to prank their friends, or to “block” an icing from happening to them, by having a bottle on hand at all times.

Now brosicingbros.com is shut down (some say Smirnoff Ice’s parent company Diageo is responsible) and bears the message, “We had a good run bro’s.”

My question is why would a company turn down this organic viral marketing opportunity? I mean, it’s something that most marketers are chasing. I know the meme was condoning chugging, a form of binge-drinking, but how else is Smirnoff going to capture that market? I guess the company is more concerned bout being sued than making money.

In a Mashable.com post, writer Brenna Erlich talks about the shutdown of the site and the fate of the “Bro” as an internet sensation:

Although it’s admittedly a positive thing that rapidly chugging less-than-stellar liquor is being discouraged, with the website’s death we could be witnessing the demise of the newest up-and-coming viral meme: the bro. That’s right, in recent weeks, the beer-chuggin’, boot-cut jean wearin’, slow jamz-lovin’ bro has been making a more prominent entrance into a realm most recently populated by another subculture, the hipster. Like the hipster, the idea of the bro was becoming a viral craze all by its lonesome.
via mashable.com

“We’re shooting for at least 1,000,000 views”

23 Apr

One of my pet peeves is when folks put together an e-mail, microsite, video or other content and say to their colleagues, “Ahem. We think this one is definitely going viral.”


I just don’t think anyone knows which x-factors contribute to a video getting a million hits or an e-mail being passed around. The power is in the consumers hands. All marketers can do is produce interesting and relevant content and support it with social media and e-mail marketing.

Although viral marketing sounds like an oxymoron, I have written about it in two very different posts:

  • One article is a quick interview I did with leading fundraisers about promoting viral campaigns. There are real tips in here about how organizations like PETA use newsworthy items, incorporate blogging and social media and setup response channels for viral campaigns.
  • I also just wrote an entry today on blog.psprint.com about the ubiquitous OBEY stickers, how they “went viral” back in the early 90s, and how marketers today can use online to promote sticker campaigns of their own.