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The Hierarchy of Contagiousness

A refreshingly scientific approach to social media and content marketing

By Chris L. Ramsden

Let’s kick off with a bold statement:

If you have anything to do with marketing or communications, you need to read this book.

It will only take you a couple of hours. And it could turn out to be the most eye-opening two hours you ever spent. As Mark Alan Effinger, CEO & Chief Evangelist at RichContent Corporation, puts it, “Read The Hierarchy of Contagiousness before your next marketing meeting and rock the house.”

Social media and content marketing are nothing new. But surprisingly, taking a scientific approach to finding out what works and what doesn’t is. Dan Zarrella, co-founder of Hub-spot, borrows ideas and methodology from disciplines such as genetics and statistical analysis to test claims and advice from the hundreds of social media gurus tauting their wares online. And he calls any advice that fails the test “unicorns-and-rainbows.”

The advice on offer gets detailed and specific very quickly, which is what you’d expect from a scientific approach. After all, the more specific your hypotheses, the more accurate your test results shoud be. Here are some of the questions Dan Zarrella poses:

  • Will your message reach more people if it starts off in a small, active group, or a larger more general group?
  • What’s the best time to Tweet?
  • To send out your newsletter?
  • To post a blog?
  • Should you talk about yourself in your blog posts?
  • How often should you post a blog to get a good click-through rate?
  • How about if your aim is to get more comments?
  • To position yourself as an industry thought leader, will it help you to call yourself a “guru,” “founder” or “author”?

Not only does Dan Zarelli answer these questions and more, he also provides charts and graphs to back them up. But, what’s most surprising is how much the answers challenge the accepted viewpoints of the social media establishment. Once you see the evidence, it starts looking like common sense – but you’re going to have to read the book to get the answers.

This approach to marketing could turn out to be a game-changer. Once companies see that they can roll out a tight, targeted content strategy and measure the results, marketing will never be the same again. And, as Dan Zarrella points out, any “gurus” out there with nothing but warm and fuzzy advice had better rethink their game plan.

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