In April we launched CalmingManatee.com. The site features pictures of sea cows with inspirational captions presented in typical LOLcat-style. It started as a Friday afternoon joke sparked by a misunderstanding between "matinee and manatee" on Twitter.
In its first 30 days, it had over one million page views. The site has been tweeted by Peewee Herman, and we've even been interviewed by the Huffington Post about it. What did we do to promote it? We tweeted it. Once. That's all. It’s giving us a lot of insight into the power of social media and how we can leverage it.
What we learned about going viral:
- If something is compelling enough, people will share it. You can't force people to share crappy content.
- Enable frictionless sharing. Simple buttons with recognizable icons is all you need. No need for obnoxious pop-up windows.
- Facebook drives more traffic than any other social network. Seven times as much as Twitter.
- While all of the manatees have ended up on Pinterest, Pinterest drives the least amount of traffic. It's drive-by pinning.
- If you want to be social, you have to be mobile friendly. 1 in 5 visitors are using a mobile device. Over half of these are iPhones.
- Be prepared for the traffic. CloudFlare, our content delivery network, allowed our VPS hosting to easily keep up with the sudden popularity.