Google+ Case Study: Why did my lunch go viral?

 
 

ripplesA photo of my lunch went viral on Google+ over the weekend with 28,616 views, 312 +1′s and 54 comments and I had no idea why. The level of engagement on the post goes well beyond the norm of somebody with only 16,000 followers.

Even though none of the main metrics stood out as possible catalysts for the success of the post I still gave each one an arbitrary contribution score based on evidence available to me:

  1. Hashtag [10%]
  2. Ripples / Re-shares [5%]
  3. Comments [0%]
  4. Plus Ones [35%]

Hashtag

Hashtag investigation showed the following image views on ten random, variably aged posts in the same stream:

  1. 113
  2. 902
  3. 27906
  4. 2214
  5. 350
  6. 1027
  7. 1212
  8. 605
  9. 387
  10. 538

The leading image with 27,906 views belongs to an influencer with 451,466 followers, so it wouldn’t be reasonable to attribute the success of his post to the hashtag alone. The average view count on the rest of the images is 816. If hashtag alone contributed to more than 10% of the post’s popularity it would be a likely case of low ‘competition’ in the hashtag section at that particular time.

Note: Plus ones on each post measured in proportion with image views.

ripples

Contribution Score: 10%

Ripples / Re-Shares

Ripples showed a rather low level of public sharing activity. Unless an influencer shared the post in a selective mode, I don’t see how re-shares would have made a significant contribution to this post’s success.

Contribution Score: 5%

Comments

I am yet to see any evidence of comment-based post discovery. Unlike +1′s user’s comment activity doesn’t show on their friends’ social stream, unless it’s a YouTube video.

Contribution Score: 0%

Plus Ones

Getting a full list of +1′s on popular Google+ posts is tricky, as the post itself shows only a sample of 50. Where there’s a will, there’s a way though. After a bit of digging I found a reasonable method of retrieving the +1 data associated with a post.

[Skip the technical part]

Firstly you’ll need to know what the post ID is and the easiest way to do that is to check its ripples:
https://plus.google.com/ripples/details?activityid=z13hclv5nq3nuvx33235xd3h2xqrdtjfz

If this doesn’t work you can use this tool and retrieve the post ID from the list of your recent posts.

Once you have the ID navigate over to the Google+ API explorer and enter the ID and set the collection type:

API

Note that the collection field has two modes, plusoners and resharers. Set maxResults field to 100.

Output shows user ID, full name, profile URL and image:

output

To get the next 100 results, copy the “nextPageToken” value, paste it in the and re-submit the query.

The Results

I had a little script made to streamline the whole process and allow me to quickly export and sort the data.

users

To be honest I was quite surprised to learn that there weren’t any 100K+ follower users involved. The top four users, which all have more than 10,000 followers, have a total of 86,073 followers. This leaves us with nearly as many in the long tail (79,993). This hints at a possibility that the post may have truly progressed organically.

Contribution Score: 35%

Full Data Table:

Display NameFollowers
Mother Rimmy29436
Rick Bucich22590
Pocket Raphael21370
Maria Lichty12677
mukesh patel7520
Dixie Jensen Brown6035
David Wade5131
Mahdieh Mirmohammad4843
Coqui Negra2430
June d’Arville2369
Hana Hashim2346
Karin Frauenfeld2302
Engr Syed Qaiser Ali2042
Kitty Gomez1987
Philip Golan1727
Детелина ÐÑенова1715
Hanan Amos1693
Maria Magdalena Florentina1635
Kelli Davidson (Kelli’s Kitchen)1547
Nahid Hosseini1377
Sandi Gaertner1307
michelle savage (meemaw’s two)1293
Betty Beck1103
Kevin Andres988
Carter Edwards925
Sonja Wells894
Sharon Hodge871
Chef Praveen865
chris fluitt759
Tanita Ta757
Daphne Little636
Chris Danes634
Anthony Franca629
Blak Lyon Cunningham625
Елена Калашникова599
Loc Thiese580
Homaye Homay575
Brian Villanueva553
Ladywolf L Camara537
Govardhanakrishna Radhakrishna522
Alwyin Williams516
raquel hazell504
jewalz n466
lc mcknight455
Al Smith447
Kwan Lowe447
Tina Bella Harris409
Karim zeinelabedin Allam399
Kirk Dundon398
Ava Saunders353
marcela shagas317
rajeeb rahman305
Bob Toovey300
Shilow Elezar-Ebony277
Candice Guerra275
jesus tapia274
Paul Miskinis272
pearl kgakole263
Ishar Sirjanhaar builders249
Cathy Mcilrath227
shivang patel227
Samad Ashrafi220
Gingey Bites220
Rajashree Gandhi210
Mona Ban200
Zunaira Tariq195
vinnel espinoza192
Catherine Ting191
Doug Reardon180
Betty Barker178
‫פט בקר‬‎176
Jon Jefferson174
Demi chan174
Ardiansyah Saleh166
Wahab fareed163
JAMIL LILLA150
Gregory Cuello149
Bala Caleb144
Michael Kerton143
Rina Mostia142
Taylor Lawrence141
Bego Watford139
Apryl King138
RAMYA ASHOK137
Dustin Forster136
Stefanie Leaser133
Cynthia Ridge132
Swana Doster131
Naveen Gupta127
Davide Piras126
Abdullahi Abdi122
Sonya Carpenter119
Angela Machado116
Katrina Lesniak111
Romel Castejon108
junio ISLAS103
Hilda C.101
Hadis Ch101
kishwar naheed100
Umesh Nanda99
ERIC SAAVEDRA95
Karla Barrera95
MAHSA AI95
Alireza Seyf95
Zander Gage94
Beluved Drayton92
Nadzz Harr91
Putri Mutiara87
E Hamilton86
Desi Halfiana84
Ivan Gonzalez83
Anibal Garcia78
Janani Srikanth76
Leslie Welton75
Dee Lynn74
peter rota68
Roni Qalo68
Arlene Inwood67
Andrenna Caballero66
S Suraya65
Conrad Parris64
Grace Tuljak63
Sabiha Iftikhar61
Ashok Murpana59
Vanessa Benavidez53
Zina May51
Enkhchimeg Erdenechuluun49
zee kay48
Edward E. Walker III47
nzisa waki46
B.J. Kendall44
maybellene tse43
suzuyo ikemoto43
Angela Jarvis43
Vc Casaljay42
Maen Aloquili42
Miguel Seabra41
Marty Smith41
cnc gla40
Andria Tejada40
Oneness King39
Mel Jones38
sara jam37
Kevon Paul37
Denice Wai37
Brigette Williams35
tootsie rere34
Denise Miller34
imtiaz ali33
jerold murray33
John Jones32
Maryam Samanian32
purnell howard32
Heather Trokey32
Sarah Hashemi31
Humaira baig31
KingRichard Quesada31
Ivica Ivchevski30
Dana BK (danabhen)29
Tacita Bastien29
ysabel chacon28
WILLIAM RAYMOND28
Athira Oktari28
isabel Shu28
Gillian RileyDouglas27
André Pires27
robert villasenor27
Lakasha Williams25
Asia Mcmillan25
Lizette Sanchez25
Babna Polash24
Keyla Reacad24
野å£å¥ä¸€24
RC MAHANTA24
Rafael Valentin23
Suvarna LK23
lyna Mayer22
margarita caldera22
hamid hasani22
mojan mokhtari22
Jack Heyns22
Awilda Vasquez21
Joseph Gibbs21
floriada Erick21
Bertha Dykes20
randa Ali19
maria raquel mendoza-blanco18
Evelyn De Ramirez18
Vheck Morford17
Sai Nguyen16
Crystal Martin15
Chandrasekar Padmanabhan15
Sophia Hernandez15
Ramprasath Ramprasath14
julian lumague13
Sandra Grittman13
Dawn Powell13
Tatiana Q.13
K’zhane Mcgill13
Adri Gomes12
Kelly Hodges12
Yolanda Yolanda12
Imee Cruz12
shrihari biradar12
sandy dolan12
Colleen Rogers12
Katie Quintana11
Kim Loi11
Natalia Shamanovskaia11
Nik Ezri Hazim Nik Ghazali10
Keziyah Williamson9
Pablo Escobedo9
Qhamani mabusela9
Christina Zumaya9
à¸รรณิà¸าร์ สิงหะ9
Kim Marshall9
Rania AL-Awadi9
jen jumaoas9
Borina Soung9
khubsurat khayal9
Syeda Mehvish8
Jaleh Najafali8
Isatu Kamara8
Olga Azarian8
Juan Centeno7
h s kiran kumar7
phillidah potera7
Qi Wulans7
Poo Malar7
Mahesh Thakre7
Raul G. Guzman6
Jamila Altayp6
Narjes Gallehdari6
meenal joshi6
Leah Ashley6
Tracy Haynes (Lucky100)5
nyambura wangari5
Yvonne Smith5
Kimo Nathaniel5
Sophia Harder5
Benjamin Sda5
Marlina Erni5
Andreajayda Villalpando4
deirdre magenis4
Tom Kim4
Ranya Hamzeh4
Jamal Khan3
Janette Janette3
Dzakpasu Parose Samuel3
ali reza arjmand3
sameena azmi3
pinky sharma2
Hamnah Aja2
Ita Irawan2
Usman javaid1
Shanza Hafeez1
Tanya Ocasio1
Cherrylyn Lozano1
angel light1
santosh jadhav1
Ake-kavitch Siriatcharanon1
Alyssa L.0
Yvonne Besser0
Kimah Choi0
My Little Bee0
Ervin Juresa0
Vijaya Lachme0
Vanessa K.0
Deborah Maynard0
Chenara Johnson0
Liz Isaacs (Liz Who Motivates)0
K454R10
Masoumeh H0
Ramiz DI Nazarbaghi0
Sean N0
Manoj Kumar0
Ali hashemi0
Brittany Castillo0
Kyha Williams0
Tracy Magnus0
JROSELINE SARCELLES FRANCE0
marinela ozuni0
‫بهرام ساعی‬‎0
ann kiszt0
Claudia L (‫كلاوديا‬‎)0
David Nickelson0
Naiyu Patel0
S Jereos (ssjj)0
Aashika Ashok0
Arshid Hayat0
Marlyn Boursiquot0
moli moh0
Xero Xedd0
Martin Funes0
Siwaporn Jamikorn0
Edith Mc0
Ivy Ch0
Mohsin Bhutta0
Manish Shukla0
Maro Sahmarany0
D Biswas0
D.D Dash0
ЮДмФФИ К0
St Whitetruly0
ramalingam sreenivassan0
nosheen nauman0
Zappalang ZPL0
Ahriza Clark0
Erik Satou0
Ayanna Robinson0
Matt Storms0
Kevin Lovecraft0

Other Factors

There are other likely factors which have contributed to high visibility of my weekend lunch:

  1. What’s hot? [35%]
    What’s hot algorithm is generally triggered by interest, velocity and popularity. It would be very easy to attribute the success of the post to this mechanism entirely, but I simply don’t have any evidence of this taking place.

  2. Content [10%]
    The type of content in this case played a significant role in the spread mechanism of the post. Technical articles and posts hardly break a 100+ barrier in my case.

  3. Timing [5%]
    I call it timing as ‘luck’ doesn’t sound like a legitimate metric. I believe if I posted this photo on a week day (as I have in the past) it wouldn’t have had the same effect.

 

Dan Petrovic is a well-known Australian SEO and a managing director of Dejan SEO. He has published numerous research articles in the field of search engine optimisation and online marketing. Dan's work is highly regarded by the world-wide SEO community and featured on some of the most reputable websites in the industry.

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