May 23, 2010

Is Viral Marketing Still In Vogue?

Viral campaigns yield the highest ROI... Information about your product spreads naturally, like a contagious disease... only a good one...
I once read up on the 5 C’s of viral marketing:
Community, Compelling, Comedy, Charity, and Contest
Let's talk Community...
We all know that viral marketing in the social media space is all about communities. In fact, I would argue that communities play a larger role than most people think, both online and offline. They can build a brand, kill a brand, make a career, break a career, influence elections, etc. Think about it; from an offline perspective, life is community driven through PTA organizations, church groups, sports leagues, stay-at-home mommy groups, and various school organizations (sororities, fraternities) to name a few. And of course online, you have Myspace, Facebook, Linkedin, Digg, Stumbledupon and hundreds of other social media sites jumping in the scene daily.
Within each of these online/offline communities consumers are talking and having conversations with each other. And, they are sharing opinions, experiences, advice, recommendations and commentary about products, services and companies usually based on real personal experience.
The challenge with viral marketing is that it’s not always viral, if that makes any sense... Often, marketers plan for and label their marketing plans as “viral” but 9 times out of 10, it never catches on. It’s the things that just happen by accident that become viral. Remember the Diet Coke and Mentos video? At first, Coca-Cola distanced themselves from the exploding Diet Coke and Mentos viral video phenomenon, fearing it would damage their reputation and brand; however, just recently that have fully embraced the concept and now there are over 7,000 consumer generated videos on YouTube, millions of pageviews, hundreds of comments, and favored by thousands of fans. The community here is not only the millions of YouTube enthusiasts, but also the micro-communities of people and their offline conversations about these videos.
So, while I do believe it is impossible to craft a viral campaign, you can certainly try to influence one:
  • Formulate your marketing message. Think about product or service you are advertising and create a message that communicates the benefits and uses of what you are selling. A website is nonnegotiable.
  • Make the content on your website sharable. For example, you can allow readers to embed a funny video from your website onto their own blogs. An "email this article to your friend" link is another way information spreads from one person to another.
  • Use email as a viral marketing tool. Include a marketing message about your product or service in the tag lines of your emails and also include your advertising message in auto responder emails you send to those who email you.
  • Post your content on other Internet sites such as message boards and blogs. However, do this carefully; many forum managers are now aware of this practice and may delete your messages if they think it's spam.
  • Incorporate your marketing message into rich media. Video clips and Flash games are very popular on the Internet, so if you have a great idea for this medium your message will spread like wildfire.
  • Spread your message off line as well. Tell your friends and colleagues about your product or service and hand them business cards with the URL on them along with a catchy tag line, perhaps the same one you use in your emails.

What are you doing to boost your buzz factor?