Igniting Viral Campaigns

Aug 18, 2008 - 3:47 pm 1 by

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 stand out and be talked about. Moderator: Andrew Goodman, Principal, Page Zero Media Speakers: Jennifer Laycock, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Guide Fionn Downhill, CEO & President, Elixir Interactive Justilien Gaspard, Search Engine Watch Expert & Search Marketing Consultant, Justilien.com Chris Winfield, President, 10e20, LLC

Contributed by Avi Wilensky of Promediacorp.

Andrew Goodman polls how many are first timers. A good number of hands are raised. Economics of marketing work a lot better when people are talking about you. Lots of tactics and issues to considered.

Chris Winfield of 10e20, takes the floor.

Polls if people like polls. Lots of laughs. Curious about this.

What is viral marketing and social media? What types of things work, and what typically goes viral.

Viral marketing: The spread of information quickly. At it's essence, word of mouth marketing online. Supercharged. The web allows things to move quickly.

What is social media? In short - a giant conversation online. So many different avenues, networks - places for people to talk online.

Who has a company blog, who has a personal blog? Makes a few jokes, lots of laughs.

Blogs and microblogs: check out Technorati directory. Blogs are highly consumable. Easy for people to read and they get it. People are used to it. Good place to put message. Allows comments, discussion, linking. On the other side, you want bloggers to link to you and talk about your stuff. You have to look at it from both ways.

Social networking: Ask most people - they will say Facebook and Myspace. Just one component. These are the big ones. There are more niche ones - like myartspace.com which is for artists that share a common interests. Look and see beyond the big ones - look at the ones in your niche - the ones you should build a presence on.

Online video: More than uploading and telling friends. A place where people can comment and respond. A quick way to spread message. A good video like Chris Crocker spread easily. Youtube makes it easy for people to link directly.

Forums and groups: Often most overlooked. Forums are most powerful for him. Strong and passionate communities. One key take away regarding forums is a site called Bigboards.com which ranks forum sizes. The biggest ones are niche - Paintball, Volkswagens, Bodybuilding. Look at the forums in your niche and build a presence. Get involved. Talk to people. Look at logs of a viral campaign to see the forum activity.

Social news and bookmarking: The big guys are Digg, StumbleUpon, and Delicious. More than just bookmarking. It's about allowing people to see what your interested in. With Digg there is a large barrier to entry because its competitive. In any niche, there's a social news site for you.

If your content gets to the top of Mount Digg, it will result in millions of viewers. The traffic is good. But most important is how it influences other sites. Bloggers need Digg and social network to find content and information. Gets popular and people bookmark it, IM, email it. Reporters also use these sites to find content. It's a way to get people who know nothing about you to find out about your company. Lots of eyeballs and info spread.

What is good content that goes viral? Lists - Lists work. Shows 10 commandments which started the trend :). How To's - People love how to's. "how to tip like a gentlemen", etc. Surveys - "top 25 geek colleges". Don't have to interview thousands of people to get this content. Comprehensive - Something that's comprehensive, that will be a strong resource - that a .gov will want to link to. Strong opinions - It can backfire - if it's controversial it can go viral bot not in the best way. Best of lists - People love best ofs. Best of the Beatles. They love it. Calculators, tools, anything that helps people do something better. Great ways to get people excited about your stuff. Video: Must be interesting and makes people go "wow". Will it blend is the classic example of a boring product made interesting in a video. Widgets - great for people to put things on their site and builds links. Quizzes, badges - makes people put them on their site or pages, and spreads. Ending tips: Have clear goals and objectives. Lots of people come to Chris asking to do something on Facebook - but why? What's the goal? Promote great content. Don't do something half ass. Do something great - take extra time. Contribute to communities. Find the right communities that make sense to you. Build relationships on these sites. Give back. Make the sites work better.

Next up is Justillien Gaspard.

Today's topic will be igniting viral marketing with people of influences. The PR folks, the customers, etc.

Important to define objectives. Most viral campaigns aren't massive. Just like real viruses. They can be small but have an impact. The goal might be to brand or promote a product launch.

People of influence are experts, journalists, or top bloggers - these people have the power to promote. People tend to support things from people they trust. Most news organizations recycle news. Take advantage of this.

The approach - You can launch and then contact these people of influence. Develop relationship ahead of time, this way they are more likely to help you. Lets say you want to target a specific blogger. Send them leads, tips, content - then down the road, bring them on board for consulting. They will be more likely to respond vs. a random email.

Cartoonists - you can hire a college student, outsource.

Bloggers - have you blogger come up with something creative or hire a guest blogger with a following - give a financial incentive. It will cost you but may be well worth it. If you have a startup it can put you on the map. Can get their followers to follow you. Not just A list bloggers. Every industry has their own.

Contests - can have them regularly, and promote them internally. Or can recruit judges of influence.

Interviews - make it easy as possible on the interviewer. Get a list of contacts to spread it. Really want to find out who they know to promote them.

Research - if you are small on a tight budget - chambers of commerce, local mayors office, college group.

Find brand advocates - forums, blogs, social media, own customer list, sales newsletters, blogs - create relationships. Get them behind your brand. Give them incentive. Discounts, upgrades, etc.

Recruiting influencers can be difficult. Approach from a sales point of view. Get past the gate keeper. Attend conferences is a great way to establish face to face. Better than cold calling.

Want to target a blogger? Buy advertising space. Easier to get them on the phone.

Hire consultants! Experts, bloggers, journalists, forum owners. Can use their names for media publicity.

Utilize customers to spread campaign. Look at emails, invoices, press releases. Talk to sales reps.

Brick and mortar - do cross promotions. Find points of contact.

Many other ways to spread the buzz - individualized. Sponsorships, PPC, PR agencies, releases, newspaper ads, even fliers in a local market!

In sum, find people of influence before launch, engage customers, promote the buzz.

Check out Justillien's column on Search Engine Watch.

Next up is Fionn Downhill from Elixir Interactive from Scottsdale.

Shares some stats. A survey from Nielson shows that recommendations from consumers are most powerful. On the web, this translates into thousands of people.

Case study - Starbucks announced closure of stores. Stock price dipped. At the same time there was a huge spike in the blogosphere regarding Starbucks.

More stats. 7/10 Americans use the net for news. If your in that space, you have a huge opportunity. 97% of journalists go online to find stories on the web. 79% find stories on the news wires.

Budget - how many people have a viral marketing budget? Not too many. This is a definite issue.

Myth - Web 2.0 and viral marketing costs a fortune. Her success writing a white paper got an interview in the Washington Post and Computer Weekly. Took time and approach, but not much cost involved.

Basic elements - free is really good. Like a white paper. Give away expertise.

Make it easy for your content to spread and share.

Make sure it scales easily from small to large. Don't crash your server! Use Youtube to host your content if need be.

Social media takes advantage of common motivations and behaviors. People are generally social.

Utilize existing communication networks like the news wires such as PR Web. Can put news or podcast or video on there. Take advantage of these resources.

The key is great quality content! There many different strategies. Great tip is adding an RSS feed.

To blog or not to blog? Need a strategy. Who is going to say it? How often? Need a plan. Don't start a "me too" blog.

Basic techniques: Forward to friend, bookmark features, etc. "Addthis.com" is a great tool to enable sharing.

Youtube - Setup your own branded channel - create simple videos that are fun and quirky. Tell your clients and friends. Optimize your channel. Link from your website. Get a Flip Video Camera!

Tubemogul is a free service that distributes your videos across the major channels. Can check the stats and pull reports.

Measuring success - links - we know are gold for organic rankings. Has a client called Tennis Channel. Are in top 10 for Tennis, all from the links from viral videos.

Make sure you have plan to create the right connections.

Thank you!

Jennifer Laycock is up next from Search Engine Guide

How to create ideas that spread. How do you do this yourself? The big challenge is coming up with the ideas. We can look at what's worked, but many successes don't tie back to your business. There are different ways to approach this. The Coke and Mentos case doesn't get you to consume more of those products.

3 Rules: 1) Thou shall know thy customer - find out what customers are looking for. 2) Thou shall be remarkable - about doing something different from what you've done before. Zappos is great at this. A campaign called "I heart Zappos". They are committed to customer service. Zappos had helped an ill customer by sending the post office to pick up the return, as well as sending a florist with a get well message. Went viral. 3) Thou shall try, try, again - most efforts don't take off. Every try improves your chances.

Brainstorming the ideas:

Need to ask - what do customers love about you? In Jeniffer's case, small businesses like her because she has a small business. What do customers not like about you? Whats your biggest challenge? Address a problem like customer service.

What sparks online conversation? Must be part of the conversation - important to be in the forums and social networks.

Can you do something outrageous like the Coke and Mentos and Will It Blend? Gets the marketing message across. Can you do something funny? Funny sells. Scary also tends to go viral.

Tie into holidays or events like the Olympics. Technorati has a cool chart that shows blog activity, with spikes. Great see what getting people to talk to put the news spin.

Can you get the mostest of something? Biggest this, etc.

What do you want people to say about your company? Can you get people to address this?

Create or embrace controversy? Can be dangerous.

Underdog stories.

Look at your analytics. See what sends people to your site. Not just traffic but engagement. How long are they spending on the site.

What motivates customers? Price? Service?

Look at capabilities. Look at your budgets and limitations. Can you create and edit videos? Can you create and edit Flash games? Can you create and edit widgets? Do you have a skilled writer? Do you have a skilled researcher? Humorist? Do you have an email list or can you buy one? Can you partner with a non-profit?

Understanding campaign costs. If something is free, must know ROI is sustainable. Starbucks got in trouble by cancelling a free offer that went out of control. A competitor took advantage of that. Know your break even points.

Can you do this in house, or do you need to outsource this? Bring all this together to know your starting point.

Make it easy for people to spread content. Establish relationships. Need to be involved in the community. That is key. You lose that credibility of the pitch if you've never been heard of before.

Before pitching - aim for at least half of these: 1) Read at least 5 posts on their site. 2) Comment on one or two existing posts. 3) Write at least two sentences that are unique to the person pitching. Needs to be personal. 4) Have at least one other person read the email before you sending it. 5) Contact the blogger to share feedback before the pitch. 6) Keep track of which sites you pitch. Can get tough to manage a big campaign.

Must do's before pitching: 1) Make sure your pitch addresses the person by NAME. Simple but few do it. 2) Make sure you have the right email address. Don't send to [email protected] unless you are looking for the right email. 3) No mass emails! People will know. 4) Be transparent. Let them know who you work for. 5) Spell check your message. 6) Familiarize yourself with their readers. Read the comments. 7) Ask yourself in all honesty if the pitch is really relevant to readers. 8) Check to see if they have a policy about accepting pitches. 9) If you pitch multiple writers at the site, let them know in the text of the email.

You can email Jeniffer for the tips list in PDF format.

That is all. Thank you.

Contributed by Avi Wilensky of Promediacorp.


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