Wednesday, May 28, 2008

UGC Viral Loop And Social Networks

I just Googled ‘ugc viral loop’ - the first result was this a) new, and b) not especially insightful article - so I figured the topic warranted a post . . .

This post is about a few things: The viral loop of user generated content - ugc, where this fits into the larger virality constellation and the importance of ugc, and seo - its companion, in the user acquisition picture for up and coming social networks outside of the big two.

The three kinds of virality:
1. Straight up word of mouth virality - no additional sharing, invite, embed, or bookmarking mechanism needed - if an article is good enough, or a video funny enough - your friend will drop the link in an email to you - and you’ll do the same for someone else. The takeaway here is great product/content - word of mouth is built in.

2. Engineered virality - this starts with the base case of a generic social network site where the value to any one user goes up with each friend invited, but these days the most interesting developments are happening in Facebook apps on the F8 platform where the metrics-focused discipline from the world of conversion to click/form submission/purchase is being applied to optimizing the user actions of ‘invite 20 friends’ et cetera.

3. UGC viral loop - while Facebook app user-growth rocketship trajectories garner the bulk of conversation, both sycophantic and skeptical - the established, inexorable virtuous cycle of user generated content feeding seo footprint is building sustainable businesses with interesting scale and growth stories. One user contributes a first piece of content, that content gets indexed, shows up on a search results page and brings in a second user organically.

Music social networks provide a great example of the under-appreciated power of ugc and seo compared to F8 as a user acquisition method. Here is the traffic comparison for iLike, a launch partner and poster child for Facebook Platform, and iMeem, a social music site with very strong seo and playlist widget stories - which one looks easier to sell ads on?

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