Igniting Viral Campaigns

Mar 17, 2008 - 12:39 pm 0 by

Igniting Viral Campaigns In a world dominated by behemoths like bud.tv, MySpace, and YouTube, how do mid-sized and smaller companies break through to generate online destinations that create buzz, encourage word of mouth and establish relationships with potential buyers. This session unveils the secrets of Web 2.0 techniques and technologies that enable companies to standout and be talked about.


* Jeffrey Rohrs, VP, Agency & Search Marketing, ExactTarget


* Bill Hanekamp, CEO, The Well * Ed Kim, Chief Executive Officer, Red Bricks Media * Fionn Downhill, CEO & President, Elixir Systems * Conn Fishburn, Director of Social Media Strategy, Yahoo! Inc.

This is a whole slew of new speakers at SES! Woohoo! Now let's see what they have for us!

First up is Bill Hanekamp from Microsite.com. He tells us Happy Thanksgiving! You too, sir! And he's also disappointed that he didn't wear green. Well, neither did I, so no worries. A lot of people at SES are totally covered in green and many people look pretty ridiculous. Someone told me that Matt Bailey is wearing a very funny green tie. I am totally going to take that tie away from you as schwag, Matt. Thank you.

Bill talks about behemoths and his past work experience working with a lot of big companies that spend a lot of money, particularly on social media. They spend a lot of money on creative on the idea side and the production side. When the internet came along, things changed: traditional media killed, the audience disappeared, and the effectiveness of what they were saying disappeared as well. People realized that money is not necessarily the end-all of awareness (e.g. Lonleygirl15 didn't have any money). The creative production wasn't important either (e.g. extreme Coke and mentos video.)

What's really important, then? Content. It produces a level playing field for small and mid-sized companies, is virtually free, and is available 24/7. One of the successful companies is Blendtec which spends its money on blending - people need to talk about you. There is content you provide and content is for your visitor. There are thousands of books written on this, but if you must read one, read "Made to Stick" by Chip and Dan Heath. Four primary ingredient to make things go viral: 1. Entertaining: it doesn't have to be a fantastic story. Burger King chicken sandwich video, for example. The Elf Yourself experience was also funny. Phillips - man in a terry cloth robe talking about his carrot 2. Relevancy - put yourself in the audience's shoes. 3. Timely - they give up currency. It has to be new 4. Exclusive. Put it on your own site and don't copy other peoples. As an example, Chevy did something like Elf Yourself and didn't get many views.

You need to engage users with user generated content. It's very difficult to do. But you can post questions. When you do things exactly right, you have viral nirvana. The Dove campaign for real beauty is a wonderful example of this (personally, I love it). On the site with the video, everything else is trying to help getting the visitors engaged. People even blog about it.

Content boids down to the right ingredients which gets the audience engaged.

Wherte does the content go? YOuTube, Facebook, Flickr, Ning, Twitter, MySpace, and more. This stuff is free. Don't put it on your corporate website though - you might have to go through legal and your IT department. The corporate side doesn't work well, so we prefer a microsite.

Summary: - Build a microsite - Develop content that's entertaining, relevant, timely, and exclusive. - Get people to become engaged - Tell the owrld via third party sites. People talk about you. Everyone links to you. Then you rank #1.

Next up is Edward Kim of Red Bricks Media. His presentation is about engaging the empowered user. In 2005, we had a theory. YouTube had just been born. With all these news web 2.0 channels, we thought that viral marketing would come back. Our agency created a YouTube video in our office which took 10 minutes (dog attacks polar bear). Within a few months, there were hundreds of thousands of visits. That's the power of viral marketing.

Sometimes you can put things up and it won't go viral. But there's a guy named Eric Jackson who did this very well. He leveraged web 2.0 channels using Yahoo Groups. He garnered $57 million in shareholder value even though he only owned 47 shares. He called for the alignment of overlapping content (Flickr, delicious, Yahoo properties, etc.)

We're living in a generation that is growing weary and leery of advertising.

Top things that require more regulation: water pollution, air pollution, advertising....!

Why are people following Eric Jackson? Recommendations from consumers are highly trusted mechanisms for purchasing and conversions. Ads don't work as well.

The strategy is buzz marketing, participating in the community. Embracing people to be evangelists on your behalf. What are the key strategies? Identify the influencers in your community. There's where we usually start. Faciliate the conversation rather than sit idly by while communications occur without us as a brand.

How do you launch a buzz marketing campaign? Example: The Remarkable: FunTwo - almost 40 million views. This guy created a franchise out of his name and bedroom with no budget. Another example is the outrageous - mentos commercial and The hilarious - Matt

How do we reach our audience? a boy named David Elsworth won a talent show in California. He produced his own network of videos. How do companies become empowered? They embraced the conversation. Search for VW (Volkswagen) - they incorporated his video and launched a commercial where people started to say that this is the best commercial ever.

What are the nuts and bolts of a viral campaign? THQ gaming company - Identify the influencers: blogs (corporate blogs, blog ecosystem), Message boards (Google/Yahoo groups, forums, usenet), Wikipedia (corporate and subject matter wikis), Video advertsiging (YouTube; VW, Diet Coke, Smirnoff), Podcasting (Lonleygirl15), etc. - Speak with gamers and see how they identify with their community - look at the popular sites among popular gamers.

In another example (B2B), we ask: where do the conversations happens among professionals?

Also, leverage the long tail community - hand out T-shirts and baseball caps to the community. It engages them in conversation. The result: thousands of leads to date.

Leveraging online video, bloggers and conversation tracking, social networking sites (Faceboook) - create characters and reach out to group leaders,

Three steps in a nutshell: Identify your audience profile Figure out the content that's buzzworthy Identify how to distribute all of that content.

Jeff asks about the staffing around these campaigns (because there's a lot of sweat equity). Ed: we try to put a methodology around successful campaigns. We put a recipe around how to make a campaign viral. There are a number of different staffers who are in charge of these different components. Some people are in charge of blogger outreach and interact with the community daily. It becomes an informal conversation especially because people can sniff out the irrelevant people in the community.

Jeff also asks Bill a question about originality. As someone who has experienced traditional routes of marketing, can Bill speak to this skillset and the magic mix that he looks for to generate these ideas, or is it a matter of understanding the needs of your clients and their audience (and testing and retesting)? Bill says "yes." He explains that content is very important. In the old days, you had to spend a lot of money on the media portion, but now you can pour a lot more money into creative - content that people would like to pass along. The other takeaway is that to make things go viral, there's no way to know for sure. It's not predictable. A lot of people try to go viral and fail miserably. Elf Yourself was great but OfficeMax built 20 microsites and 19 of them weren't known.

Fionn Downhill talks about how she ignites viral campaigns. Her first slide is in Gaelic and I totally don't understand it.

Social media is the hot new buzword amongst online marketers: social media channels, online communities/conversations, and relationships. How do you use this and why would you do this? Nielsen did a study and it showed that 78% of respondents trusted recommendations from other consumers. The second most credible source is newspapers.

Basic elements for success: - Give away products or services - something valuable - Provide for effortless transfer to others - make it easy to transfer - Scales easily from small to very large - Exploits common motivations and behaviors - e.g. targeting youth. If you expect them to spread something, it has to be cool. Think of your target market and create something that's appealing. - Utilizes existing communication networks - social media sites - Takes advantage of other resources - YouTube, for example "You cannot control viral marketing but you can enable it" - and you need to enable it.

Budget: Myth - web 2.0 and viral marketing costs a fortune Fact - using web 2.0 for viral marketing takes time and a strategic planned approach for success Budget - create specific marketing strategies that benefits the campaign, but keeps budget low. Don't have the resources for the next chicken or elf, don't worry!

What strategies can you use? Blogs, forums, RSS feeds (single most important thing to enable your campaign since syndication is so important), social bookmarking and tagging, press releases, photo directories/images, Facebook/MySpace, Videos (YouTube, Google Video), Article marketing (don't repurpose articles because they won't go viral!), E-Zine newsletters (but watch who you give your email address to - make your privacy policy very clear), Whitepapers, Wikipedia "The key is free"

A word about blogging - if you're going to have a corporate blog, have a strategy for your blog - what's the theme? Are we going to update it? A lot of blogs fail.

Basic website techniques - forward to a friend, bookmark, news alerts, email, RSS feeds, syndicated content.

YouTube: how many of you get emails sent to you from YouTube? That is viral, people! - Set up your own branded channel - Create simple videos that are fun and quirky - Tell your clients and your friends - Optimize your channel - Link from your website to your YouTube channel. - Get a flip video camera. (I don't have one. WANT!)

How difficult is this? She shows us her 10-year-old daughter's YouTube channel. She also shows us a channel of her client.

How do you measure success? - RSS and newsletter subscribers - Social bookmarks - Comments on your blog - Links to your website by social media - What blogs/forums are talking about you? - Monitor referring links - Monitoring, brand/search saturation, reach - Mood of conversational marketing - Track email usage - More robust tools are available but Google and Yahoo alerts work for free

Some resources - www.wilsonweb.com/wmt5/viral-principles.htm - www.tamingthebeast.net/articles/viralmarketing.htm - www.digitaltrainingacademy.com/viralmarketing - www.youtube.com/signup

Jeff asks Fionn about experimentation. Is it worth it to launch a YouTube channel? Fionn says absolutely. It's hard enough to get budget for SEO from clients, but you have to do this now. You need this strategy in place. We build viral into organic campaigns and that's an easier sell. Testing will make it really effective.

Last up is Conn Fishburn whose presentation is titled "The New Now or How Social Changes Everything." He says that the lessons are spot on, but you can't start with the notion that something is going to go viral. Think about what you are saying when you do that. Don't make your end goal to go viral. It's not a product selling strategy.

How does social media change everything? One of the things we talk about is the overall marketing strategy - why are they doing what they want to do?

The Rise of the People: 1.65 billion people were on the earth in 1900, but now there are over 6 billion. There's a lot of communication changes. 800,000,000+ people are on the web each day and are connecting in different ways like never before. In the next 6-12 months, we'll see a point of inflection - the new rules are going out the door and new behaviors take precedence. New media is finally giving results that were never seen before. This industry is being turned on its head in a significant way. It won't go back.

When you think about these 1 billion users online, think about the next generation. They won't think about the web in the same way that the first billion do because they won't use the internet in the same way. It's about mobile, pervasive, open, in browser applications, gaming. For these people, "new media" is not "new." It just is.

The Network Economy is a culture. Nicholas Negroponte says "if I werre to do the MIT MediaLab over again, I wouldn't make it so much about the technologies per se. I would make it more about culture, about the cultures behind any technology that adopts it, adapts it and makes it useful and interesting." We're doing old behaviors with new technology.

The Killer App of the Web has always been other people. It allows us to better communicate with others: email, IM, Twitter, texting, Napster, eBay, Craigslist, Friendster, etc etc!

If this is true and people are playing a predominant role, what's the future of marketing? What will it look like in 5 years? What does it mean today? Let's look at media evolution - Mass Media was one to many - too many links - browse My media was many to one - search We media is many to many - share It's driven by broadband adoption, increase in the power of computers and chips, the decrease in cost, proliferation of new devices and technologies, emergence of a technology ecosystem

The idea is that the old model would push the brand through the network to people (one way dialogue). Now it's a two way dialogue - brand to network to people and vice versa.

Today marketing is a social dialogue: brands and companies are part of the cultural fabric.

Social media: demystifying - 1. Humans are social animals 2. All media wants to be social 3. Companies and brands have always been part of the fabric of society 4. New tools and technologies allow people to socialize with greater facilitiy and amplification of participation 5. Implicit and explicit data are providing new insight into human and market behavior 6. Openness, virality, transparencey and authenticity are the new hallmarks of great companies.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell - he did research around this very notion. While influentials are important, they actually have no greater influence in making something tip than a regular person. The anology that we've used (Duncan Watts) - if you throw a match into a forest, it might ignite or not. If you take a big ball of gas and do the same, it may or may not ignite. It actually depends on the condition of the forest. It's not necessarily because of great content or bloggers; it's about doing all these things in a very measured way to prime the conditions so that it can spark and create an ignition that does go viral. The best thing is that you can prime the network itself - seed these things - tap the influentials, be able to distribute your content freely, etc.

The Network is the Platform.

Take a holistic approach - huge reach, product innovation, etc. Think of it as your overall marketing (print advertising, search, etc.) They are all part of the consumer experience.

How do you get started? First, listen to your audience. Second, become part of the story. (e.g. Dove) Third, always bring some wine. Don't come to a conversation without bringing something. Bring something of value to them. Fourth, be good to your mother. Always make sure that you're good to the people. Understand who is paying you. Don't take advantage of them. Fifth, think holistically. Sixth, social media is here to stay.

Jeff asks Conn about the "go viral" phrase about people who want free and cheap stuff. Conn says that Yahoo is in the business of selling advertising space to companies and some of these companies are tremendously powerful. He doesn't look at social media in this way - he looks at using social as a backbone of all marketing efforts. Tap into and leverage these tools and participate in the community.


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