Five Things ‘Jersey Shore’ Taught My Agency About Social Media

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Advertising & Marketing, Gaming/Entertainment, Humor, Social Media & Networking, Sports & Entertainment, Technology

Shared links have a longer shelf life on Facebook than Twitter, and Buzzfeed sends more traffic through re-shares than direct clicks. That’s two of the things my agency learned when we launched a stealth social-media experiment through a site we created called Jerzify Yourself.

Jerzify Yourself was created in January of this year, a week after the season one finale of the popular MTV show “Jersey Shore” that attracted an audience of 4.8 million. The site, written in a few days in Flash, allows users to upload their headshot onto a stylized body and morph themselves into a Jersey Shore “Guido” or “Guidette.” Or as New York’s Village Voice put it: “The gist is Snooki-grade simple: upload a medium-size jpg, scale the image to fit, choose your spray-tan shade, pick your pose — and holy Freckles McGee, you’re magically recast as a human meatball.”

Why did we do this? To evaluate the power of social media and spreadable content. As an experiment, Jerzify Yourself was highly successful in adding the much needed texture to our knowledge of how content gets passed along online. One obvious caveat here is that the observations below are based on a single experiment, so please treat them as such and not as some kind of immutable laws. That said, we hope our findings will add a new angle to the collective thinking behind online content dissemination.

Here are five social-media learnings that grabbed our attention:

1. The Invisible Impact. If you find yourself measuring the value of referral sources for your campaign, consider their total impact via re-shares in addition to the direct traffic they send your way. Counting only the direct clicks from any site is likely to underestimate the site’s total value; five out of six sites on our top referrers list sent almost as much traffic through re-shares as through direct clicks. It would make for an interesting follow-up experiment to see if this difference holds up for paid campaigns as well as for “organic” content. If it does, and this difference is measured, it would have important implications on how we plan media buys.

2. If It Doesn’t Spread, It’s Half-dead. Dr. Henry Jenkins once made this now-famous remark about the destiny of content in the age of social media: “If It Doesn’t Spread, It’s Dead.” Having looked at the data, we can now say with a degree of confidence that you’ll still get viewers if your link gets picked up by major online publications, but content that’s designed to be spreadable can nearly double the referred traffic through re-shares. (get the other three here)

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