[WAMA] The VIRALITY Formula w/ Emerson Spartz - Virality Expert with 45mm Users - June 11 at 7PM EST

by EmersonSpartz 26 replies

Hey Warriors,

I'm Emerson Spartz. My story: when I was 12 I convinced my parents to let me drop out of school and start homeschooling myself. A month later I created Mugglenet, which grew to become the #1 Harry Potter site with 50mm monthly page views.

I've been studying virality for almost my entire life. Now I'm the CEO of Spartz, a 40-person media company based in Chicago with 45mm monthly uniques. You've likely stumbled across a few of our sites before, like Dose.com and OMG Facts.

I'm doing an WAMA on June 11th at 7pm EST.

Feel free to ask anything, but I'll probably have the most unique perspectives on virality, social media (25mm followers), and rapid learning/retention strategies.

#warrior ask me anything (wama) #45mm #7pm #emerson #est #expert #june #spartz #users #virality #wama
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    • Profile picture of the author danieljb
      We're really excited to be holding our next Warrior TV: Warrior Ask Me Anything Event with Spartz Media founder Emerson Spartz.

      Emerson is in a league of his own when it comes to creating viral content. He's been featured in some of the world's top publications including in his own TED talk.

      Make sure to get your questions in early and we look forward to seeing you on the event on Thursday June 11 at 7PM EST. Check what time this is for you here.


      Transcript of the Virality Formula Event with Emerson Spartz:

      Welcome to Warrior T.V. This is Warrior Ask Me Anything where we bring to you the world’s best internet marketers and online entrepreneurs for you to interact with.

      I’m Alaister Low.

      And I’m Daniel Bedford. Today we are excited to be talking with Emerson Spartz. Emerson is the founder of Spartzmedia, dose.com, mugglenet and a host of other viral websites. Together he generates over 45 million monthly views to his websites. Welcome to Warrior T.V. Emerson.

      [00:26]

      Emerson: Glad to be here.

      [00:28]

      Alaister: So Emerson I know the way you started all of this was quite unique. Tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to where you are today.

      [00:36]

      Emerson: The long version or the short version? So when I was 12, interrupt me at any time if I’m going too long. So when I was 12 I convinced my parents to let me start out of school and start homeschooling myself. So I’m a middle school dropout. About a month after I started homeschooling I came across a free webpage maker and I thought it would be fun to make a website. So I just started screwing around making a bunch of really crappy websites until I read the Harry Potter books. I got really obsessed with Harry Potter and I decided to make a Harry Potter website. And then I started spending 10 hours a day working on the website because I wanted to make the best Harry Potter website and there were a number of things that I did which helped it grow which I can dig into. But eventually mugglenet grew to become the number one Harry Potter website.

      I did about 50 million pages a month. We had, and it was really a cluster of different properties. We had one of the biggest forums online, one of the biggest fan fiction sites, one of the biggest RPG’s. We published a number of books one of which became a New York Times bestseller. We had the number on podcast in the world not just for Harry Potter but for all podcasts. And ultimately it was a big team effort. There was about 120 part paid, part volunteer contributors. And I learned a tremendous amount through that experience. I learned a little bit about how to code, how to write, how to edit, how to lead, how to design.

      And then eventually I decided on a college for fun. And while I was in school I embarked upon a personal independent study regiment on mostly studying a variety of things that were all broadly relating to marketing. And started a company about two weeks after graduation. And what we do at Spartz is we use technology to create and distribute viral content to our media properties, dose.com and omgfaqs. I mean it is the kind of content you see all over the web, viral, shareable content and we help millions of people learn, laugh and feel inspired every single day.

      So I can go into detail into any different part of the story; just tell me what would be more interesting and useful.

      [02:55]

      Alaister: Yeah there is a huge amount, I mean that story we could really break down into any part but let’s just start right at the beginning. So you mentioned that you decided to drop out of school when you were 12 years old. I can imagine what your parent’s reaction...how did you actually go about that, what was the reasoning behind wanting to actually leave school and decide to home school?

      [03:16]

      Emerson: I was one of those kids who was intensely bored by school and I would come home with a list of grievances about how much more efficiently school could be run. And so my parents were taking a tremendous risk by letting me educate myself although I’m sure they were watching closely. If it looked like I was screwing around and playing video games all day I’m sure they would have something to say about it. But it was really just a conviction that I would be better off designing my own curriculum.

      So I made a big list of all the things that I would accomplish if I was given the free time to pursue my own interests. Few of the things I actually ended up doing because I discovered web development and that was just this big fascinating game. But there wasn’t a whole lot to it other than I’d been talking about it for a long time and I’m pretty sure my Dad actually incepted the idea into my mind and made me think it was my own because he realized I would do well in a more self directed environment.

      [04:10]

      Daniel: Great and I know one of the things that your parents made you do if you chose to embark on this journey was to read a book a day or some derivative thereof. Is there one particular book that sort of stands out in your mind that really cemented you and that you absolutely recommend everyone reading?

      [04:31]

      Emerson: There were many books. Actually what my parents did is they had me read four short biographies of successful people every day and this just shattered my little 12 year old brain into about 10,000 pieces. But it was really biographies about anyone and everything and they didn’t tell me what biographies or books I had to read. That was the only thing they required me to do, although I complained about it all the time.

      So there was a number of books that impacted me tremendously at different phases of my life. The first book that had a big impact was, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie which I read when I was 12, and it helped me catch up much quicker to a more mature way of looking at human relationships, which was important because I was a 12 year old and I certainly wasn’t capable of managing people without a little bit of help from some books along the way.

      The next book that really impacted me was Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within which is like a best practice manual for what the various neuro-scientific fields have discovered about how to build your habits and create discipline and behavioral change and so on. And then the third book was Ray Kurtzweil, The Singularity is Near which shook the very foundations of my existence, it got me thinking about the future in a radically different way.

      [05:42]

      Alaister: So very early on you started your website mugglenet. Was it something that you had thought about for a while and you thought now that I have got time this is the time for me to actually go and start this site, or was this something that you sort of decided to leave school, leave formal school and then you thought, what am I going to do, I’m going to start this website. How did you go about creating that website and growing it?

      [06:05]

      Emerson: No it was just on a lark. I wanted to make a website, I made a bunch of crappy websites on things I wasn’t passionate about and just put enough time into it to not make it suck until I read, I had gotten into the Harry Potter books and then I finally, it was like the marriage of like, well I really want to make a website and I really wanted to make a website about something I was passionate about. And then Harry Potter was the missing piece for me.

      [06:31]

      Daniel: And then from there you took it to the next level and created these viral websites. So how did you transition from mugglenet to something like dose.com or omgfaqs, what was that process?

      [06:45]

      Emerson: So it was actually a really long process. Let me rewind back to the beginning. So I started to get really interested in virality although I didn’t know there was a word for it at the time when I was really young. Part of this stemmed from the biographies I was reading everyday they got me thinking really big and I started to have all these grand visions of changing the world on an enormous scale and I got really interested on influence in general because I saw influence as impact right, the more influence you have the more impact you create. And then virality being the type of influence that was most interested to me because everybody seemed to suck at it but it seemed if you were good at it, it was a human superpower. If you could make things go viral you could tip elections, you could overthrow dictators, you could start movements, you could revolutionize entire industries.

      So fast forwarding a bit I decided to go to college for fun just not a good reason to go to college, I got bored really fast, really predictably and I was going to drop out and start another business but at this point I had already had enough success with the first business that I wanted to go really big with the next one. I wanted to identify a model to maximize my probability of getting to $1 million by the time I was thirty. And I was naïve, I knew the odds of that happening were infinitesimally small but I figured you know statistically speaking maybe I will get three cracks at this by the time I’m 30. So how do I maximize the probability of one of those things connecting?

      And I determined that the business would have to involve heavy amounts of virality to be able to scale that much that fast. So I wanted to go as broad as possible though because I wanted to be able to connect dots and see patterns between different disciplines and different industries.

      So I set a goal of reading one nonfiction book every single day until graduation. It wasn’t just books though it was going through STC filings and 10K’s and research and abstracts and textbooks and a wide variety of topics; business, politics, psychology, economics, technology, science but it was actually a three part process so there is reading, reviewing and rehearsing. Because it is a waste of time to learn something and if you can’t remember it and you can’t apply it in a situation where it would be relevant.

      So to maximize my retention I spent the first six months doing a really deep dive into the neuro of science and memory because learning how to learn is literally the most important thing you could ever learn. It provides an exponential return on the time you invest on it. So it was basically like being able to wish for more wishes.

      So I ended up building up different space repetition schedules where I would review everything I wanted to remember on a schedule of a day later, a week later, a month later and then every six months in perpetuity, again being like you have to apply the information in a relevant situation to get value from it. So I used deliberate practice methodology, things like getting your 10,000 hours but across a wide variety of different topics. 50 hours of negotiation, 10 hours of this, 20 hours of that and I would practice applying it.

      So what I would do is I would organize all the information into frameworks to contextualize it. So for example I would have a persuasion framework, a negotiation framework and an innovation framework. So let’s use innovation as the example. How I would practice innovation is I would first go through dozen of books on the subject, compile a series of pneumonic devices like acronyms where I would take different business models and store them using pneumonic devices so I could quickly recall them in a situation where I would actually need to generate more ideas. And then I would go to Wal-Mart and I would go from product to product to product on the shelves and take each product and apply each model to it to come up with new products.

      So for example, post it notes, luxury, long tail, unused capacity etcetera. So luxury, could I just sell a way more expensive high end post-it note to [10:12 _] the people with disposable income who will spend money for something just to acquire the status of having the more expensive thing.

      Long tail: could I let people customize their own post-it notes, etcetera etcetera. So think of it as an innovation weight lifting where you are just practicing flexing your innovation muscles. And I started generating ideas in a pretty large volume and I got really interested in the notion of, well okay I have generated lots of billion dollar ideas at this point, which of these actually has the highest probability of becoming a million dollar business?

      So I was really obsessed with this notion of probability of success. And it was kind of my joint obsession with virality and probability of success that led to my big aha moment with virality. So when I had my eureka moment I started using Facebook as my first petri dish and created dozens of pages that went from zero to millions of fans over a period of a few hours to a few days. And what I was basically doing is I was testing hundreds of different variables and seeing which variables correlated positive virality and then it just kept shorting the viral loop so I could tell within 20 seconds if a page was going to go viral.

      And it was a ton of fun and after Facebook I started using the same strategies on Twitter; got millions of followers on Twitter, You Tube, Tumblr, websites, Aps. It generally worked on every...I mean some platforms are vastly more conducive to virality than other but the notion still generally worked on each platform and I can certainly go into more detail on what those strategies were.

      But in any event fast forwarding a bit more, after I kind of had validated that these viral growth strategies worked we just started launching a bunch of websites that capture the traffic that we were creating and then we put up ads to make money off tem and fast forward today, we’ve gotten very good at it. And now we have 45 million monthly uniques and…although you know backing up again…so we founded the company two weeks after graduation. It was myself and my wife Gabby; she is now my wife she wasn’t at the time. We actually met the first week of school at Notre Dame. We had weirdly similar life paths where she actually founded dailycute.net which is one of the top cute sites online. So I totally hit the jackpot there. And we just started kind of experimenting with some of these websites.

      The first one was called givemehope where people could share uplifting and inspiring true personal stories. You guys remember that website fmylife, it was like that but the opposite type of content and that website went viral back in 2009. Then we created a website people could share their love stories and a website where people could share their secrets. And then we created omgfaqs which to this day is our second biggest websites.

      And then about a year ago we stopped making the [12:54 meme] sites and started just doubling down on two, omgfaqs and ghosts.com and we’ve grown the company to about 40 people. A couple of rounds of capital now and really what we are trying to do is turn virality into a science. And we’ve made some good progress on it. It is still very crude and rudimentary science as anyone who has any experience in this field knows. But it is a ton of fun.

      [13:21]

      Alaister: What is fascinating is you mentioned throughout your experiments you basically took Facebook pages and were able to grow them to like millions of fans or likes within hours and you mentioned a whole bunch of different testing’s and variables that you were testing. What were some of the things that you tested? I mean I know a lot of the audience would love to hear about the actual strategies that you employed to grow these pages so quickly.

      [13:47]

      Emerson: So the question is what were the strategies that I used to get the pages to go viral?

      Alaister: Yeah that is right.

      Emerson: Okay, yes. So from a 30,000 foot level, there is two different ways that you can make something that is viral. You can either, okay this so you can either…let’s strip out getting lucky from the equation. So there is two kinds of virality the way I look at it. So there is the bribery form of virality, incentivized virality which is really straight forward right, if you share my content I will give you something of value in return. It could be like I will give you a discount on your next purchase or I will give you and your friend both a discount if you sign up a friend, or I will give you a free this or a free that or something of that nature. And that for most businesses is by far the most effective way to create virality because the other way which is emotional virality is really freaking hard because you have to understand people on a deep enough level to know how to create enough emotion and the right kind of emotion to inspire somebody to share.

      Now most people their eyes glaze over when I start talking about incentivized virality because it is just not as sexy it is not as interesting as the emotional virality where you make a video that is so awesome that everyone shares it and it goes viral.

      So the hard way of doing that is just to understand humans on an incredibly deep level and be able to you know shoot every second of video in a way that just gets people filled with emotion, bursting with emotions so they are motivated to go share with their friends.

      The easier way and what I figured out a long time ago, what got me real excited about virality, to me the way I look at everything is everything is an Art until it becomes a science. Art is just that which science has not yet explained. Art works but scientists haven’t explained why it works yet. Like we look at that beautiful painting, we know that it is beautiful but we can’t explain why. And eventually scientists may say well I actually like the way the color works on this, there is this ratio that human beings find intrinsically pleasing of x to y, etcetera etcetera. So the goal was to create systematized virality because if you can’t systematize something then you don’t fully understand it, you can’t scale it you can’t reproduce it. Then you’re just a good artist but if you can reproduce and scale it then it is much more interesting because you learned it on a bigger scale. So that was the general goal.

      No to drill down to a little bit more of a 30,000 foot level, the hackier way of creating something that is viral other than the obvious stuff that you read everywhere about creating emotion and so on, which I can talk more about too which is pretty straightforward but it is not easy to do. The easier way is to identify things that have already gone viral and identify clusters in the population that have not been exposed to those things that have already gone viral and then figure out how you can mutate that thing that has already gone viral to work in a different cluster in the population.

      So let’s use a disease as an example because I spent some time studying epidemiologist so I still think about these viruses in terms of the actual viruses not just digital ones. So let’s say that I’m going to give you like an awful diabolical creepy morbid thought experiment. Let’s say that you are a mad scientist. You want to create some terrible, awful but effective virus to achieve your evil plans. How do you do it? Well in that though experiment most people start thinking well I’d have to create the perfect virus and that inevitably involves creating thousands of line of genetic code from scratch and getting all of them perfectly balanced and in the exact proportions and materials and so on. That is really hard. If you get even one of those genetic strands wrong then your entire virus loses its effectiveness.

      The only way that Mother Nature has ever been able to create successful viruses is by iterating like crazy on a few strands that worked particularly well like the Pox family of viruses being an example of it. Small pox, chicken pox, cow pox, mouse pox, etcetera. So Mother Nature eventually iterates into this one type of virus that works really really well and then there is all these mutations that work for very specific clusters in the population. Like small pox is a human only pox virus. Cow pox is a cow only version of the pox virus. Chicken pox is for the most part, only a chicken specific version of the virus and these diseases are usually lethal for the species they have been optimized for. And most of the time they are just like a few genetic mutations away from the other types of pox viruses.

      Okay so the easiest way to make something viral is not to try to create the virus from scratch it is to identify the virus or strain of virus that works really well, figure out which clusters of the population have not been exposed to it and then modify that virus to work for those clusters in the population. So let’s say you want to make something viral, instead of trying to create the entire viral video from scratch…Or let’s say it is a meme. Instead of trying to create an entirely new meme on your own you are much better off making your own version of an existing meme that has already proven to be effective because again the proof points.

      The best predictor of future virality is past virality. So you don’t have to create value by creating everything from scratch. You can create value on the distribution side instead of just on the creation side. But most people don’t find distribution sexy, most people find the creation side of it sexy so everyone focuses on creation but in reality distribution is actually easier than creation.

      [18:57]

      Alaister: So is this the strategy you employed when testing with those Facebook pages early on? Basically taking something that you knew was already viral and had sort of elements of virality and then trying to tweak them for your specific Facebook pages?

      [19:13]

      Emerson: Yeah so I just kept looking for patterns in what are the types of pages that go viral and what are the pages that don’t go viral that look similar to the pages that go viral and I just kept eliminating variable after variable after variable and figuring out why some go viral and some don’t .And I mean look the 80/20 from a viral perspective is that once you have a big enough audience, virality is much easier because you can just throw a lot of shit at the world and some things will pop. And if you throw enough stuff at the wall then more things will pop and so on.

      And so at Spartz we have this very probabilistic approach to virality where we know that… I can’t…if you give me one video or one thing and say, “Will this go viral?” I have no idea. It is way too fickle and hard to say but I know that if you take a larger number of things that could be seconded for good and you distribute them to enough people, statistics is some of them will go viral.

      And so that is the approach that we take and we focus on mass producing content that has the high probability of going viral and then we still only get a very small percentage of them to go viral but it is still enough to get us to 45 million monthly uniques. But that is the high level approach I would recommend taking in general when it comes to things that if you are trying to make something viral is that you have got to get a lot of those bats and then you obviously want to make sure your batting average is as high as possible too.

      [20:27]

      Alaister: So I have got a question here that has just come in from Mark G. and he asks, with a lot of virality it is really interesting when you’ve got a specific topic that people love to share about or drives a lot of motion. He is asking, how do you employ a viral strategy for an industry that I suppose historically is boring, something like accounting or something of that nature.

      [20:54]

      Emerson: So there is no cookie cutter answer for that. Some industries are obviously easier to create virality than other industries. We very specifically produce entertainment content that is the easiest type of virality to engineer because the content is so universally appealing. Now accounting software is a little harder to make sexier but in some ways it is easier because the marketing content is so damn boring that if you say anything remotely interesting then you are going to stand out like crazy and in general, my approach to virality with something like that is I would run advertisements and have my marketing materials, I would be way edgier than most people are. I think most people are just total wusses about saying really blunt things in their marketing copy and in their ads and so on.

      So the place that I would start from is saying way more controversial stuff that is much more, is likely to really piss off some people but you will raise a bunch of awareness because you are actually saying things that everyone thinks but everyone is too scared to say.

      [21:14]

      Alaister: That is great. So I have got another question that has come in from Sarah and she asks with all of these web properties that you have obviously it requires a large team and now you have grown into a large team of 40 but in the early days you had a lot of remote staff. How did you go about finding these staff, figuring out what they would do and managing them?

      [22:16]

      Emerson. That is a good question. So there has been different phases of the company where I did different things. In the very beginning with mugglenet what I did is, I actually didn’t know anything about managing people or bringing in freelancers, didn’t know what any of those words meant but there was one girl who kept sending me things to put up on the fan art section it was like her own Harry Potter drawings. And I kept putting them up but then I was getting bored doing it and eventually just to save myself time I just gave her the password and said, “You can add these yourself.” And then she was so passionate about Harry Potter fan art that she started adding tons of stuff from all around the web on the page and that section became a really vibrant section of the website. And I was like wow that was amazing I didn’t have to do any work and this section is now great, this is awesome. I should do more of this.

      And so I just started recruiting other people that were passionate about different things and,”Ooh you are really good at coding, why don’t you come and help me with the engineering? Oh you are a really good writer, why don’t you come writer for this site?” etcetera and it was easy because it was Harry Potter and a lot of people were passionate about it so I didn’t have to, from a recruiting perspective it wasn’t the most difficult thing.

      And then I would have just like any good community you have got like tiers of responsibility. If I recruited somebody I would give them like small, simple, can’t really mess it up tasks, and then the better that they did with that, the more responsibility I would give them. Like, okay you manage this one page and this one section deep within the website. You do well with that then I will let you manage that entire section. And then that entire mega section and so on.

      And then eventually if they proved themselves and they stuck around for long enough I would start paying them because they had proven themselves and volunteers are flaky. So that was when I was doing the Harry Potter site mugglenet.

      Then after mugglenet though with the current company early days we just used freelancers that I got off Odesk and I would just find guys I would just shop around find people. I would put jobs up get bids, pick the ones who had the best ratings. I was willing to pay a little bit more if they had really good ratings and I would find guys that I could put on a flat monthly fee. Like okay how much availability can you give me per week? And then we would work something out and then someone would go from like a few jobs here and there to like 10 hours a week, 20 hours a week and then eventually our lead developer was a guy that was doing jobs for us that we found off of scriptlance.com.

      He was just a guy who like, he was actually like a well paid PHP developer in Seattle but he just loved coding so much that he was doing like $25 off of Scriptlance. And then eventually you start paying them full time but hat is how, I mean in general we just used the freelancer sites for all of it. And then when we found somebody really good we would not use the freelancer sites anymore because we would start working with that person on a more consistent basis.

      [24:59]

      Alaister: What was some of the tasks you go them to do? Was it mainly content creation? You mentioned some other things like engineering and things like that. Was content creation the biggest thing? I imagine running a viral site like dose.com it is all about creating content on a regular basis. Was that the main task that you needed help with?

      [25:28]

      Emerson: No because for most of...well in the mugglenet days it was because we had a ton of content like thousands of pages on the website. But then from most of the existence of the company in its current form now, actually it was all user generated content. So we spent all of our time just figuring out how to make it easy for other people to create content. And then about a year and a half ago we switched over to do editorial content and now we’ve got a team of writers who actually produce the content. So we’ve changed over time with different types of content creation.

      But I would say that even to this day 2/3’rds of the company is technical so it is mostly engineers and data scientists.

      [25:54]

      Daniel: Did you have a hard time finding content creators for viral content? I imagine with things like headlines, they are critical to generating clicks from that link. So did you have a hard time finding those sort of writers?

      [26:10]

      Emerson: Yes and no. It is always hard to find good talent almost no matter what you are talking about but writers are not quite as hard to find as engineers and data scientists so I’m using that as my yardstick for talent difficulty. But we hire, I think our ratio is like one in five people who apply we actually hired. So we certainly had to put the word out. We used craigslist, we used the freelancer sites, we used some more traditional job boards but it wasn’t as hard as it is to find engineers.

      [26:49]

      Alaister: I think with a lot of the sites that receive a lot of traffic and they don’t really know the best way to monetize. I know you monetize your sites a lot through advertizing. Are there any other strategies that you use to monetize your sites?

      [27:04]

      Emerson: No. No in the past we have done like t-shirts and CPA stuff and we sold Harry Potter wands but now it is just advertizing.

      [27:20]

      Alaister: Is that because you’ve found advertizing the most effective and easy way to monetize the site and you find that maybe the time spent with your team is better spent on other things as opposed to trying to create new products or source products and things like that?

      [27:34]

      Emerson: Yeah it is just not our expertise other than ad driven, media company business model. We get so much traffic that it is not hard to make money and it is like really engage traffic. So although our focus now is that, we built all this technology to systematize the process of actually creating viral content. So what is next for us from a monetizing perspective, right now it is all programmatic advertizing but the next stage for us is using our technology to help [28:05 _] and agencies make viral content because all these agencies have these clients knocking on their doors saying, “Hey we want to make a viral video, help us make a viral video.” And the agency is like, “I can’t just make you a viral video, it is not that simple, it doesn’t work like that.” And it is not that simple for us either but it is a lot simpler for us because we’ve made the process so repeatable at this point that it is actually something we can realistically do.

      [28:27]

      Alaister: So you mentioned that you moved a little bit of your strategy in terms of moving towards more editorial content now. How do you see I suppose people or do you see traditional news sites as being your competition? How do you see maybe different people perceiving your site as opposed to different news sites like New York Times or something like that?

      [28:50]

      Emerson: So old media people are fixated on ideas that we look at it a little bit differently. Like most media companies are still very dependent on people going to their homepage and clicking on a link to visit the article. And if they didn’t have their homepage to get people to articles, they would get very little traction. And we think that particular model is dying, the homepage is dying as a distribution vehicle because people don’t, especially younger people, they don’t go to nine different websites to look for content, they just expect the content will show up on their social feeds Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etcetera so our whole model is built on making sure that our content is going to show up on your feed because our content is so good and we are so good at distribution that you don’t have to seek us out, we will find you because your friends will be sharing it. That is the way we think about it. And that approach is different than most companies.

      [29:47]

      Alaister: So you mentioned showing up in people’s feeds whether it be Facebook or Twitter and you mentioned that different social networks require different strategies which ones have you found to be most effective and are there some that you don’t touch at all or obviously ones that you concentrate more on?

      [30:06]

      Emerson: Absolutely. Facebook is like the 80/20 of viral distribution. Facebook is by far the biggest platform in the world. They have by far the most engaged audience and there has never been a better platform available for making things viral on the scale that Facebook lets you make things viral. So in general I would say if virality is your goal Facebook is almost your best bet to invest in and especially for techies like us, the kind of people who hang out on sites like that, we tend to get way too excited about the new thing and I mention Facebook all the time and people are like, “Aren’t teens leaving Facebook? Doesn’t like no one use Facebook anymore?” I’m like, “No that is not at all the case.” Facebook is something that is such a big part of their life they just don’t’ talk about it, it is not sexy or exciting like whatever the new network is.

      So I would encourage you to spend most of your time on Facebook.

      Other networks that are good depends very heavily on what your audience is actually doing and how they consume content. There are pros and cons to different networks. The other big ones that I recommend spending some time on would be Pinterest and Instagram and Twitter. LinkedIn is good for some B to B business but in general those are the ones that are probably the best use of your time. Anything else is probably too niche. Snapchat is still really small unless you are dealing with a teen audience and you have a very, and you are creative about using that platform because it is not a very good platform. Snapchat and Instagram are really hard to get traffic from because clickthroughs are kind of non existence on the platforms. So if you are going for traffic of any kind or conversion of any kind you are probably not going to have much luck on those platforms.

      You can do it on Twitter but it is really hard because people don’t really click links on Twitter as much as they scroll. Pinterest can be really good though for getting conversions if that audience is a good fit with your content.

      [31:53]

      Alaister: Great. I imagine going through and creating all these websites was a huge learning experience from each different website. What are the three biggest mistakes that you made that you found you learned the most from?

      [32:10]

      Emerson: Yeah okay so and I think this is one that most people will relate to. So when I first started mugglenet I had no idea how to get people to come to the site. So what I did is the same thing I am sure many of you do, is you go read up on it and figure out how do I get traffic to my website? And I saw the other Harry Potter websites some of them were linking to each other. And I was like, well okay this site they are both linking to each other they must have just talked it out and agreed to link to each other.

      And so I didn’t really know how else to get people to come to the site so I just went and emailed every single Harry Potter webmaster on the entire internet and asked them if they wanted to do a link trade. And I didn’t know any particularly effective way to do it and this was years before Google came out so there was no real search engines that helped with that. So I just spent a lot of time clicking around emailing people. This was the hustle and the grind right. The really unsexy part of the story is what really was a major factor in mugglenet actually taking off.

      And that is one of those things that I think, you should obviously work smart when you can work smart but if you don’t’ know how to work smart about it then just work hard because if you just if you are putting in enough hours and you are hustling, hustling, hustling, you will figure out a way to get it done and most people just give up way, way too early compared if they would have spent enough time.

      So getting back to the question of mistakes. So I have made some very expensive mistakes where I didn’t’ read contracts and like I made one mistake that cost me $30,000 early on in the mugglenet years which was very painful, very very painful because I didn’t read the contract too closely enough. I made enough $800,000 mistake when I did read the contract thoroughly enough but I didn’t understand how easy it would still be for the other party to not make good on their promise and that was very expensive. So general advice there would be to make sure that you get a lawyer to look at your stuff because it is going to save you so much money in the long run even though it is painful now, and I know it is painful now.

      I would say even though we were the first Harry Potter site to really start building a team it still took me a lot longer to realize the power of that than, we would have come up with a lot more a lot faster if I would have connected the dots on that a lot faster instead of still trying to do everything myself and do it the hard way. So that was a mistake.

      I think those are the biggest ones.

      [34:37]

      Daniel: Yeah those are really helpful tips I think a lot of people will appreciate and empathize with. In terms of the future of virality where do you see that going in say a years time? What do you think it will look like?

      [34:53[

      Emerson: What virality will look like in eighteen years time?

      Daniel: Yeah.

      Emerson: So virality is one of those skill sets that I think is getting more and more valuable every single day that goes by because software is eating the world and whenever software eats a different industry virality becomes a much bigger part of how things can grow in that industry. So in general it is kind of a word that didn’t really even exist that long ago, no one had heard of it. And I think it is one of those skill sets that the more you understand how viral growth works the more valuable it will be.

      Ultimately though the future of it is hard to say. Most people don’t think about things in terms of viral. They only think about things that are viral when they think about content. But every time something grows at an exponentially accelerating pace it is viral. And ultimately the human mind perceives things a linear even when they are exponential. So I don’t know exactly what it will look like but it will be increasingly omnipresent notion in our day to day lives.

      [35:57]

      Alaister: So just before we wrap up now Emerson what are some resources or books and you mentioned some early on that would be helpful for people looking to get started or more involved in creating viral content and using virality as a growth strategy for their websites?

      [36:15]

      Emerson: So there is a few things. The first thing I would do is I would really make sure that if there is any way that you can do it that you exhaust all your options from an incentivized virality standpoint first where you try bribing people with stuff to see if they will share. That is much easier. The way that I approach it is like this. Make a list of all the things that you want your user to do, it could be sharing your article, sharing your company, like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, sharing your email address etcetera. Make a list of all the things you would like them to do. Put them in order of how important they are to you. Then make a list of all the things you can bribe them with. Discounts, coupons, etcetera, and then start testing them and see which combinations work the best.

      Now from an emotional virality perspective my general advice there is you could read up, if you read books by like Jonah Berger and Duncan Watts and guys like that. There is also really good advice out there on what kind of emotions to use. Positive emotions are better than negative emotions like humor, nostalgia, cute babies, things like that obviously make you feel good. High balance emotions where you sit up in your chair not where you slouch in your chair like sad, anxiety, these are not viral emotions. Anger, pissing people off can work really well. There are some good best practices out there that you can read up on easily.

      My advice that is not quite so textbook that I think is more practical in many ways is just keep in mind that the more at bats you get, the higher your probability of getting things to go viral. So the more time you spend figuring how you can maximize the number of at bats you get, and also it is like this, every time you create another article it is like getting an at bat. But every time you create an article and distribute that article to a different cluster in the population it is like getting another at bat. So you actually stack exponentially how many at bats you can get.

      So the more at bats you can get and the higher your batting averages the more luck you will have with virality. So don’t spend too much time trying to perfect one piece of content. Just like 80/20 crank out as many pieces of content as you can and get them out there and try and get them in front of as many people and then build on the ones that seem to be working well. And if you get some good feedback on them and it looks like you are getting a lot of likes and shares or whatever, make more like it and show case your best content and showcase it over and over and over again.

      Like we repost our winners all the time and they go viral over and over and over again.

      Things don’t go viral one time; they go viral over and over and over because they always hit different clusters in the populations. So that is one thing to keep in mind too.

      [38:42]

      Alaister: Okay thanks very much Emerson. I think we have run out of time unfortunately but we really appreciate you giving up your time for the audience and I am sure they are going to get a lot out of this call. So thanks very much.

      [38:52]

      Emerson: Thanks guys and we are always looking to hire awesome people so check us out and glad to be on this glad to be on the trail.

      Alaister: Cool, thank you.

      Emerson: Thanks everyone.

      [End Recording 39:05]
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  • Profile picture of the author mouradnj29
    Hi warrior. Im mourad from algeria. I want to. Make some money from my internet. In my home i lose my jobe in about three monthe but i cant. Evry day loser. Pleas friends warrior help mi and teach my haw i can make money frim home. I wait your response
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    • Profile picture of the author twilight2
      Originally Posted by mouradnj29 View Post

      Hi warrior. Im mourad from algeria. I want to. Make some money from my internet. In my home i lose my jobe in about three monthe but i cant. Evry day loser. Pleas friends warrior help mi and teach my haw i can make money frim home. I wait your response
      Try selling services on fiverr, or seoclerks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hermanson
    Here are some of my questions:
    What is your "secret ingredient' for virality?
    Have you always looked for advertising revenue, or did you monetize in a different way during your startup phase?
    What are your different team's roles, and can you explain the general workflow for editing/publishing content?
    How is your strategy for finding/obtaining featured images for articles?
    How do you attract contributing authors? Is most of your content contributed or is your content curated from your in-house team?
    Signature

    CEO of: http://www.ido.fund (crowdfunding for weddings)
    www.howto.wedding (authority blog for weddings)

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  • Profile picture of the author samuelson00
    What content attracts traffic? How do I get traffic to my site?
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  • Profile picture of the author blackscorpion
    Can your method be adopted for acquiring Local SEO leads ? can you give examples ? thanks for your answer.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nik999
    Hi Emerson,

    I really like your story - especially since I have a 12 year old son who I just decided to pull out of school so he can pursue his interests.

    Looking forward to this event!
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  • Profile picture of the author mattebox
    Hello Emerson, I'm working on a similar enviroment as your but in other languages.
    I would like to ask you 3 questions:
    - How you decide to create a new website and what are the step you make?
    - How you find the right target for the website? Because i think is not easy for a website of news or general viral news.
    - You use Facebook advertising or other system to promote the website and find the right target?


    Thank you!
    Matteo
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  • Profile picture of the author orca
    Hi Emerson.
    My question is "How do you grow a new viral site from zero to 100K visits/month?. What's your strategy?"
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  • Profile picture of the author sllh81
    Hello Emerson,
    What is your most effective/favorite method for increasing referral traffic?
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  • Profile picture of the author mairsol
    Looking forward to attend the WAMA .
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  • Profile picture of the author danieljb
    Update:

    We have had to reschedule the event for Thursday, June 11 at 7PM EDT. This is exactly the same time as previously mentioned, just 1 week later. Check what time this is for you here.

    Apologies for any inconvenience, looking forward to seeing you there!

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  • Profile picture of the author seven4
    I'm so excited for this.
    I'll be following for sure.
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    • Profile picture of the author Xarcz
      How has working on new projects/ideas presented challenged for you? Have you decided to trash any projects for whatever reason?
      Signature

      [CENTER]Professional Logos - Delivered same day - For $5:

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  • Profile picture of the author dageniusmarketer
    im interested
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  • Profile picture of the author web2click
    Do you have any online course on virality?
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  • Profile picture of the author danieljb
    Emerson Spartz is LIVE in less than 5 minutes!

    Click Here to Watch Now

    Join the conversation on Twitter @warriorforum @EmersonSpartz #WarriorTV

    Have a question for Emerson? Ask below!
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  • Profile picture of the author mattebox
    Hello Emerson, I'm working on a similar enviroment as your but in other languages.
    I would like to ask you 3 questions:
    - How you decide to create a new website and what are the step you make?
    - How you find the right target for the website? Because i think is not easy for a website of news or general viral news.
    - You use Facebook advertising or other system to promote the website and find the right target?


    Thank you!
    Matteo
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  • Profile picture of the author WeekendFlash
    I hope this was recorded. Seems I'm having trouble participating throughout.
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    • Profile picture of the author danieljb
      Thanks all for your great questions and for watching the event! Emerson was great to talk to and his answers to your questions helped you.

      The event was recorded and we'll make a formal announcement here when it is available in the War Room. (Note: You do need to be a War Room member to watch the Warrior TV Replays).

      Next week's event is A MILLION DOLLAR PRODUCT LAUNCH with Product Launch Formula creator Jeff Walker. He'll be live on Warrior Forum answering your questions, teaching you how to create and launch best selling products. (Ask your questions here).

      Get your questions in early and we look forward to seeing you next week!
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  • Profile picture of the author Emmanuel Sopitan
    Good. Cant wait for the replay
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  • Profile picture of the author teotrainer
    Is there a replay... I just got 5o know about the Ask session today 13th of june
    Signature
    Translator, P.E., Former Personal Trainer & Internet Marketer
    Any Help Offered in Spanish, English or Portuguese
    Click here
    Online Solutions since 2002 SEO, SEM & website Developments
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  • Profile picture of the author danieljb
    Just a quick message to let you know that the recording is now available for all War Room members to watch at any time:

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  • Profile picture of the author RobinJennings
    These has definitely given me some really great ideas which I would be incorporating in my marketing, thanks guys
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  • Profile picture of the author uniquewebdesigns
    Fiverr would be really good to sell your services!
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