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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 Name Followers
Mother Rimmy 29436
Rick Bucich 22590
Pocket Raphael 21370
Maria Lichty 12677
mukesh patel 7520
Dixie Jensen Brown 6035
David Wade 5131
Mahdieh Mirmohammad 4843
Coqui Negra 2430
June d’Arville 2369
Hana Hashim 2346
Karin Frauenfeld 2302
Engr Syed Qaiser Ali 2042
Kitty Gomez 1987
Philip Golan 1727
Детелина ÐÑенова 1715
Hanan Amos 1693
Maria Magdalena Florentina 1635
Kelli Davidson (Kelli’s Kitchen) 1547
Nahid Hosseini 1377
Sandi Gaertner 1307
michelle savage (meemaw’s two) 1293
Betty Beck 1103
Kevin Andres 988
Carter Edwards 925
Sonja Wells 894
Sharon Hodge 871
Chef Praveen 865
chris fluitt 759
Tanita Ta 757
Daphne Little 636
Chris Danes 634
Anthony Franca 629
Blak Lyon Cunningham 625
Елена Калашникова 599
Loc Thiese 580
Homaye Homay 575
Brian Villanueva 553
Ladywolf L Camara 537
Govardhanakrishna Radhakrishna 522
Alwyin Williams 516
raquel hazell 504
jewalz n 466
lc mcknight 455
Al Smith 447
Kwan Lowe 447
Tina Bella Harris 409
Karim zeinelabedin Allam 399
Kirk Dundon 398
Ava Saunders 353
marcela shagas 317
rajeeb rahman 305
Bob Toovey 300
Shilow Elezar-Ebony 277
Candice Guerra 275
jesus tapia 274
Paul Miskinis 272
pearl kgakole 263
Ishar Sirjanhaar builders 249
Cathy Mcilrath 227
shivang patel 227
Samad Ashrafi 220
Gingey Bites 220
Rajashree Gandhi 210
Mona Ban 200
Zunaira Tariq 195
vinnel espinoza 192
Catherine Ting 191
Doug Reardon 180
Betty Barker 178
‫פט בקר‬‎ 176
Jon Jefferson 174
Demi chan 174
Ardiansyah Saleh 166
Wahab fareed 163
JAMIL LILLA 150
Gregory Cuello 149
Bala Caleb 144
Michael Kerton 143
Rina Mostia 142
Taylor Lawrence 141
Bego Watford 139
Apryl King 138
RAMYA ASHOK 137
Dustin Forster 136
Stefanie Leaser 133
Cynthia Ridge 132
Swana Doster 131
Naveen Gupta 127
Davide Piras 126
Abdullahi Abdi 122
Sonya Carpenter 119
Angela Machado 116
Katrina Lesniak 111
Romel Castejon 108
junio ISLAS 103
Hilda C. 101
Hadis Ch 101
kishwar naheed 100
Umesh Nanda 99
ERIC SAAVEDRA 95
Karla Barrera 95
MAHSA AI 95
Alireza Seyf 95
Zander Gage 94
Beluved Drayton 92
Nadzz Harr 91
Putri Mutiara 87
E Hamilton 86
Desi Halfiana 84
Ivan Gonzalez 83
Anibal Garcia 78
Janani Srikanth 76
Leslie Welton 75
Dee Lynn 74
peter rota 68
Roni Qalo 68
Arlene Inwood 67
Andrenna Caballero 66
S Suraya 65
Conrad Parris 64
Grace Tuljak 63
Sabiha Iftikhar 61
Ashok Murpana 59
Vanessa Benavidez 53
Zina May 51
Enkhchimeg Erdenechuluun 49
zee kay 48
Edward E. Walker III 47
nzisa waki 46
B.J. Kendall 44
maybellene tse 43
suzuyo ikemoto 43
Angela Jarvis 43
Vc Casaljay 42
Maen Aloquili 42
Miguel Seabra 41
Marty Smith 41
cnc gla 40
Andria Tejada 40
Oneness King 39
Mel Jones 38
sara jam 37
Kevon Paul 37
Denice Wai 37
Brigette Williams 35
tootsie rere 34
Denise Miller 34
imtiaz ali 33
jerold murray 33
John Jones 32
Maryam Samanian 32
purnell howard 32
Heather Trokey 32
Sarah Hashemi 31
Humaira baig 31
KingRichard Quesada 31
Ivica Ivchevski 30
Dana BK (danabhen) 29
Tacita Bastien 29
ysabel chacon 28
WILLIAM RAYMOND 28
Athira Oktari 28
isabel Shu 28
Gillian RileyDouglas 27
André Pires 27
robert villasenor 27
Lakasha Williams 25
Asia Mcmillan 25
Lizette Sanchez 25
Babna Polash 24
Keyla Reacad 24
野å£å¥ä¸€ 24
RC MAHANTA 24
Rafael Valentin 23
Suvarna LK 23
lyna Mayer 22
margarita caldera 22
hamid hasani 22
mojan mokhtari 22
Jack Heyns 22
Awilda Vasquez 21
Joseph Gibbs 21
floriada Erick 21
Bertha Dykes 20
randa Ali 19
maria raquel mendoza-blanco 18
Evelyn De Ramirez 18
Vheck Morford 17
Sai Nguyen 16
Crystal Martin 15
Chandrasekar Padmanabhan 15
Sophia Hernandez 15
Ramprasath Ramprasath 14
julian lumague 13
Sandra Grittman 13
Dawn Powell 13
Tatiana Q. 13
K’zhane Mcgill 13
Adri Gomes 12
Kelly Hodges 12
Yolanda Yolanda 12
Imee Cruz 12
shrihari biradar 12
sandy dolan 12
Colleen Rogers 12
Katie Quintana 11
Kim Loi 11
Natalia Shamanovskaia 11
Nik Ezri Hazim Nik Ghazali 10
Keziyah Williamson 9
Pablo Escobedo 9
Qhamani mabusela 9
Christina Zumaya 9
à¸รรณิà¸าร์ สิงหะ 9
Kim Marshall 9
Rania AL-Awadi 9
jen jumaoas 9
Borina Soung 9
khubsurat khayal 9
Syeda Mehvish 8
Jaleh Najafali 8
Isatu Kamara 8
Olga Azarian 8
Juan Centeno 7
h s kiran kumar 7
phillidah potera 7
Qi Wulans 7
Poo Malar 7
Mahesh Thakre 7
Raul G. Guzman 6
Jamila Altayp 6
Narjes Gallehdari 6
meenal joshi 6
Leah Ashley 6
Tracy Haynes (Lucky100) 5
nyambura wangari 5
Yvonne Smith 5
Kimo Nathaniel 5
Sophia Harder 5
Benjamin Sda 5
Marlina Erni 5
Andreajayda Villalpando 4
deirdre magenis 4
Tom Kim 4
Ranya Hamzeh 4
Jamal Khan 3
Janette Janette 3
Dzakpasu Parose Samuel 3
ali reza arjmand 3
sameena azmi 3
pinky sharma 2
Hamnah Aja 2
Ita Irawan 2
Usman javaid 1
Shanza Hafeez 1
Tanya Ocasio 1
Cherrylyn Lozano 1
angel light 1
santosh jadhav 1
Ake-kavitch Siriatcharanon 1
Alyssa L. 0
Yvonne Besser 0
Kimah Choi 0
My Little Bee 0
Ervin Juresa 0
Vijaya Lachme 0
Vanessa K. 0
Deborah Maynard 0
Chenara Johnson 0
Liz Isaacs (Liz Who Motivates) 0
K454R1 0
Masoumeh H 0
Ramiz DI Nazarbaghi 0
Sean N 0
Manoj Kumar 0
Ali hashemi 0
Brittany Castillo 0
Kyha Williams 0
Tracy Magnus 0
JROSELINE SARCELLES FRANCE 0
marinela ozuni 0
‫بهرام ساعی‬‎ 0
ann kiszt 0
Claudia L (‫كلاوديا‬‎) 0
David Nickelson 0
Naiyu Patel 0
S Jereos (ssjj) 0
Aashika Ashok 0
Arshid Hayat 0
Marlyn Boursiquot 0
moli moh 0
Xero Xedd 0
Martin Funes 0
Siwaporn Jamikorn 0
Edith Mc 0
Ivy Ch 0
Mohsin Bhutta 0
Manish Shukla 0
Maro Sahmarany 0
D Biswas 0
D.D Dash 0
ЮДмФФИ К 0
St Whitetruly 0
ramalingam sreenivassan 0
nosheen nauman 0
Zappalang ZPL 0
Ahriza Clark 0
Erik Satou 0
Ayanna Robinson 0
Matt Storms 0
Kevin Lovecraft 0

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, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

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