We tend to think of social media as quite an individualistic activity. Very self centred. Sure, it’s “social” but we often imply that the “circles” or “groups” are smaller and more fragmented to a degree which trivialised “old school” categorization.
Enter the nation state.
A country is of course quite an artificial creation, but still a mighty powerful one. So, with amazement I watched the Romanian entrants of this year’s “Web it” digital influence competition roller past us all to fill up all the top positions. Romania also sits firmly at No1 in the country rank overall of course. How did they do it?
Readers of my Greek blog know that I went to extraordinary lengths (at a rather busy time of the year) to discover how and why this competition works. It is fascinating to discover how you can coerce people into voting for you and I tried pretty much everything. I measured each promotion (in fact self promotion to be accurate!) and took notes. Which Facebook groups reacted better, which taglines, which times of day? I quickly got to the No1 Greek position and 9th overall. Not bad going for a couple days in between other projects.
But then the Romanian invasion begun. They didn’t go in bursts like the rest of us. At first I assumed they were cheating. Some automated script or something. But this would be easy for the organizers to discover, especially since they are going through bit.ly. The statistics will make it glaringly obvious. In total, I have measured more than 4,000 clicks that have gone from various blogs I run to http://bit.ly/aIcDZ5 I would guess that roughly 1/10th of those have actually entered the four digits of the captcha to vote for me. If the Romanians were cheating their votes would match their clicks. It would be too good to be true.
But then I Google translated the blog mentioned by the top Romanian entrant and there it was. “Let’s all vote for ALL ROMANIAN entrants!” Nationalism in its simplest form. Simple, clever, social and viral. The timing perfect (on the last stretch, too late for anyone else to do the same) and team Romania wins. Fair and square. Next time, when I try to think of something “social”, I won’t forget the altruistic aspect of nationalism as a force of mobilization…