popularity, the herd mentality, and communicating value

If you want to learn about getting rankings and using rankings in your business, read more.

Thresher, a drink company, handed out cards that gave people 40% off their wine. You only get the discount if you have one of the cards, which you can print off if you know someone who knows about the deal.

Hugh talks about the success of the Thresher virus, noting that they both gained a lot of attention short-term and have the opportunity to get long-term value from this idea.

Some of that value come from Hugh himself, who shared the coupon on his blog. He told the story of the company, which if I remember correctly sells Stormhoek wine, which Hugh has an interest in. He used the story of what Thresher was doing to teach and inform his audience. And to amuse them- Hugh is a light-hearted blogger.

On my blog, look to the right sidebar, and you see the Top Posts list. This lets you see what other people think is important on my blog, though I don’t know how it is calculated.

I also show you my blogroll, which lists the top 5 blogs I think I relevant to the kind of people who read my blog.

Technorati does the same thing with their Popular page, where they show you the most popular searches, tags, blogs, videos, and more. They also have a Most Linked To Blogs page and a Most Favorited Blogs page. So they make it easy to see what other people think of other blogs.

Seth’s Squidoo is a directory of lenses about all kinds of subjects. He has a Top Lenses page so you can see what Lenses others are looking at. The editors at Squidoo also have the Lens of the Day group, so if you want an expert opinion on what lenses are worth reading, you can look there.

Lastly, YouTube has their Most Linked, Top Rated, and Top Favorited pages, as well as their Recently Featured page.

From Hugh telling you about wine to YouTube telling you about videos, you and they are depending on the herd mentality. That people believe that when most people think something is good, it probably is.

And this ranking has huge results. In search engines, the top 3 organic (main) results get almost all of the traffic. And the top 3 ads also get almost all of the traffic. On YouTube’s Most Viewed page, the most viewed video has TWICE the number of views as the second most viewed video.

On the Technorati most linked blog page, the top blog has more than twice the number of links as the seventh blog. On my blog, the top 2 most viewed posts of the last 30 days have more views than all other posts combined.

So two questions emerge. First, how do you get on that list when someone else controls the list of most popular/most linked/whatever, and second, how can you create your own list to better leverage community.

For getting on someone else’s list, Google is the simplest answer. Get in the top three for Google, and people will come to your site and believe you. For the search “100 fastest growing companies puget sound business journal” I have spots 1, 2, and 5. More through luck than knowing what I was doing, but I still have them and get traffic.

For “paypal bomb,” relating to the bomb that exploded on Halloween, I have spots 1, 4, and 5.

When I wrote about Digital Agency getting top billing in Google about an Ad Age story, Digital Agency then wrote about me writing about them writing about the Ad Age article.

So the first principle is, draw attention by having something to say, and saying it first. I went in depth into this here.

For using the herd mentality to your own advantage, use some version of ‘most popular’ lists whenever you can. The closest we come to this at Portent is our Case Studies page.

What would be better is a list of the rankings of all of our clients, with comparisons in each case to where they were a month ago and a year ago. So you could see how well they are doing overall and in relation to each other.

One company that does this very well is Amazon, with their product results pages that say “What do customers ultimately buy after viewing this item?”

My getting on the front pages of Google is largely a fluke most times that I have done it. To really demonstrate value, I would chose a keyword cluster and go after being on the front page for those keywords.

For example, I decided to show my past professors about blogs by getting to the top of Google for the phrase “Honors College blog,” which I am now 1st and 2nd for.

So pick a keyword cluster you can get to the top in for Google. Maybe for Technorati or YouTube depending on what you do. And while you try to harness the herd mentality on those lists, think up some of your own you can use to better communicate value to your clients.

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I'm now blogging about internet marketing at RedBeardConsulting.com.

Red Beard Consulting

At Red Beard Consulting I work on internet marketing primarily for speakers. I also work with Infusionsoft.

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