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What makes a good viral marketing campaign?

As a concept viral marketing is self-explanatory: it entails the prolific and exponential spread of content that people find compelling and share-worthy. Like a real virus it’s contagious, people can’t help but pass it on. The web is full of viral content, some of which is successful but most of which is not.

Are you familiar with the seven legged spider?

If you like satire and aren’t easily offended then you’ve probably heard of David Thorne, or at least come across his website 27b/6. Thorne takes the Mickey out everyone and in the story of the seven legged spider he has a go at accounts departments. He tries to pay an overdue account with a drawing of a spider. The explanation does it no justice; it needs to be seen to be appreciated.

The point is that it’s clever and funny and something to which most people can relate. You want your friends to read it. You want them to be as amused as you are and you want Thorne’s wit to be spread wide and far because he deserves it.

The spider is a good example of viral content, but not necessarily viral marketing.

Viral marketing requires a strategy because even though the aim is to have your content spread almost spontaneously, the initial push requires effort and it’s in the initial push where your idea will succeed or fail.

What is good viral marketing?

According to Dr Ralph Wilson, Hotmail.com is a classic example of a successful viral marketing campaign because it embraces all of the basic principles:

  • It gives something away for free – a nifty email platform.
  • It spreads easily – every time an account holder sends an email the receiver is aware of the service.
  • It’s easy to join – every email comes with a link to sign up.
  • It relies on existing communication networks – people simply stay in touch with friends, family and business colleagues.
  • As more people sign up and send email more people are exposed to the message and so on and so forth.

Brian Solis takes the rather interesting view that there is no such thing as viral marketing. The reason being that content doesn’t simply gain momentum on its own, which takes us back to that initial push.

Solis says, “…in the attention economy, information isn’t randomly discovered and broadly disseminated. It is strategically positioned to either appear when someone searches for a related keyword or it’s presented to someone manually and deliberately.”

It all starts with a good idea; which is easier said than done. Your idea needs to be relevant to your company (brand, product, service) and it needs to be relevant to your audience. In this way it also needs to appeal to some sort of need. This could be the need to entertain (the spider story), the need to act (PETA alerts about animal cruelty) or the need to impress (those pesky emails that require your to answer questions to achieve a score, which you then put in the subject line when you forward it to all your unwitting friends).

Get the ball rolling

Once you’ve got your content you need to decide how you’re going to spread it. Dan Zarella refers to it as seeding.

Your first push is important and should comprise of those who are most likely to pass on your content. There are some obvious avenues (Facebook and Twitter), but these are general and don’t guarantee success. Pick your action men and women and give them an incentive to keep the ball rolling. An appeal to ego is often most effective, although Solis phrases is more gently by calling it an appeal to exclusivity and inclusion. Make them feel part of a special club and then they’ll want to invite the people they also feel are special.

Monitor it

You need to keep an eye on your content’s progress so that you know if it succeeded or not. This way you can determine what types of ideas work and which ones don’t and you’ll know better for the next round.

As a concept viral marketing is self-explanatory: it entails the prolific and exponential spread of content that people find compelling and share-worthy. Like a real virus it’s contagious, people can’t help but pass it on. The web is full of viral content, some of which is successful but most of which is not.

Are you familiar with the seven legged spider?

If you like satire and aren’t easily offended then you’ve probably heard of David Thorne, or at least come across his website 27b/6. Thorne takes the Mickey out everyone and in the story of the seven legged spider he has a go at accounts departments. He tries to pay an overdue account with a drawing of a spider. The explanation does it no justice; it needs to be seen to be appreciated.

The point is that it’s clever and funny and something to which most people can relate. You want your friends to read it. You want them to be as amused as you are and you want Thorne’s wit to be spread wide and far because he deserves it.

The spider is a good example of viral content, but not necessarily viral marketing.

Viral marketing requires a strategy because even though the aim is to have your content spread almost spontaneously, the initial push requires effort and it’s in the initial push where your idea will succeed or fail.

What is good viral marketing?

According to Dr Ralph Wilson, Hotmail.com is a classic example of a successful viral marketing campaign because it embraces all of the basic principles:

· It gives something away for free – a nifty email platform.

· It spreads easily – every time an account holder sends an email the receiver is aware of the service.

· It’s easy to join – every email comes with a link to sign up.

· It relies on existing communication networks – people simply stay in touch with friends, family and business colleagues.

· As more people sign up and send email more people are exposed to the message and so on and so forth.

Brian Solis takes the rather interesting view that there is no such thing as viral marketing. The reason being that content doesn’t simply gain momentum on its own, which takes us back to that initial push.

Solis says, “…in the attention economy, information isn’t randomly discovered and broadly disseminated. It is strategically positioned to either appear when someone searches for a related keyword or it’s presented to someone manually and deliberately.”

It all starts with a good idea; which is easier said than done. Your idea needs to be relevant to your company (brand, product, service) and it needs to be relevant to your audience. In this way it also needs to appeal to some sort of need. This could be the need to entertain (the spider story), the need to act (PETA alerts about animal cruelty) or the need to impress (those pesky emails that require your to answer questions to achieve a score, which you then put in the subject line when you forward it to all your unwitting friends).

Get the ball rolling

Once you’ve got your content you need to decide how you’re going to spread it. Dan Zarella refers to it as seeding.

Your first push is important and should comprise of those who are most likely to pass on your content. There are some obvious avenues (Facebook and Twitter), but these are general and don’t guarantee success. Pick your action men and women and give them an incentive to keep the ball rolling. An appeal to ego is often

As a concept viral marketing is self-explanatory: it entails the prolific and exponential spread of content that people find compelling and share-worthy. Like a real virus it’s contagious, people can’t help but pass it on. The web is full of viral content, some of which is successful but most of which is not.

Are you familiar with the seven legged spider?

If you like satire and aren’t easily offended then you’ve probably heard of David Thorne, or at least come across his website 27b/6. Thorne takes the Mickey out everyone and in the story of the seven legged spider he has a go at accounts departments. He tries to pay an overdue account with a drawing of a spider. The explanation does it no justice; it needs to be seen to be appreciated.

The point is that it’s clever and funny and something to which most people can relate. You want your friends to read it. You want them to be as amused as you are and you want Thorne’s wit to be spread wide and far because he deserves it.

The spider is a good example of viral content, but not necessarily viral marketing.

Viral marketing requires a strategy because even though the aim is to have your content spread almost spontaneously, the initial push requires effort and it’s in the initial push where your idea will succeed or fail.

What is good viral marketing?

According to Dr Ralph Wilson, Hotmail.com is a classic example of a successful viral marketing campaign because it embraces all of the basic principles:

  • It gives something away for free – a nifty email platform.
  • It spreads easily – every time an account holder sends an email the receiver is aware of the service.
  • It’s easy to join – every email comes with a link to sign up.
  • It relies on existing communication networks – people simply stay in touch with friends, family and business colleagues.
  • As more people sign up and send email more people are exposed to the message and so on and so forth.

Brian Solis takes the rather interesting view that there is no such thing as viral marketing. The reason being that content doesn’t simply gain momentum on its own, which takes us back to that initial push.

Solis says, “…in the attention economy, information isn’t randomly discovered and broadly disseminated. It is strategically positioned to either appear when someone searches for a related keyword or it’s presented to someone manually and deliberately.”

It all starts with a good idea; which is easier said than done. Your idea needs to be relevant to your company (brand, product, service) and it needs to be relevant to your audience. In this way it also needs to appeal to some sort of need. This could be the need to entertain (the spider story), the need to act (PETA alerts about animal cruelty) or the need to impress (those pesky emails that require your to answer questions to achieve a score, which you then put in the subject line when you forward it to all your unwitting friends).

Get the ball rolling

Once you’ve got your content you need to decide how you’re going to spread it. Dan Zarella refers to it as seeding.

Your first push is important and should comprise of those who are most likely to pass on your content. There are some obvious avenues (Facebook and Twitter), but these are general and don’t guarantee success. Pick your action men and women and give them an incentive to keep the ball rolling. An appeal to ego is often most effective, although Solis phrases is more gently by calling it an appeal to exclusivity and inclusion. Make them feel part of a special club and then they’ll want to invite the people they also feel are special.

Monitor it

You need to keep an eye on your content’s progress so that you know if it succeeded or not. This way you can determine what types of ideas work and which ones don’t and you’ll know better for the next round.

most effective, although Solis phrases is more gently by calling it an appeal to exclusivity and inclusion. Make them feel part of a special club and then they’ll want to invite the people they also feel are special.

Monitor it

You need to keep an eye on your content’s progress so that you know if it succeeded or not. This way you can determine what types of ideas work and which ones don’t and you’ll know better for the next round.

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