Viral makes you think of something horrible, right? Like an outbreak of a virus taking over the world’s population and turning us all into zombies? Well, trust me, when it comes to online promotions and link building, “viral” means “success”.
During the session this morning, we heard a lot of fantastic tips for how to create and promote viral campaigns. Fionn Downhill of Elixir Interactive gave some fantastic statistics about the use of social media for viral marketing purposes and how to leverage that to gain buzz for your product.
According to a recent Nielsen study, 78% of respondents trusted recommendations from consumers over what they read in the newspapers. This is nothing new, as word of mouth has always been one of the most trusted sources of information, but finding out where consumers are getting these recommendations (blogs, online media, etc.) is very important. Fionn also showed that 7 out of 10 Americans use the internet as their main news source. And guess what – journalists are online too! 97% of journalists use the internet to find resources for their stories, 79% use it to generate story ideas and 72% of journalists read blogs to find out what is going on in the online media space.
Keeping all of these statistics in mind, it is easy to see how a successful viral campaign can gain tons of coverage for a company or product. But how do you go about creating this campaign?
Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide gave some fantastic tips on what to think about when planning out a viral campaign. She gave three very simple commandments to follow, under which every bit of planning should belong:
- Thou Shalt Know Thy Costumer - in order to successfully market to the correct customers, you need to know a bit about those customers. Listen to their feedback and get involved in their online communities. This first hand knowledge will really come in handy when creating strategic messaging
- Thou Shalt Be Remarkable – You must be different to get attention in this world. Creating the same old “me too” campaigns wont get nearly as much coverage and buzz as being the first to do something great. An amazing message should translate into an amazing company.
- Though Shalt Try, Try Again – You can’t know what is going to happen with a campaign idea until you have initiated it and tested it out. Not all campaigns will be come viral. But with each new campaign you learn more about the process, more about the messaging and more about the consumer so the next time, you’ll get it right.
So, you have the plan underway, and you know what you want to do. But how do you actually get it done? Justilien Gaspard of Search Engine Watch and Chris Winfield of 10e20 both gave fantastic examples of how a campaign, marketed to the right people in the right places, will become viral within a few days.
Justilien stressed first that we need to have clear objectives. is the objective of this planned viral campaign to increase brand awareness? To launch a product? To gain new customers? To acquire thousands of inbound links? Once the objective is clarified, the plan will form around it.
A good strategy, Justilien said, is to find the people of interest, those who influence the space you are marketing in. These people could be the prominent bloggers in the industry, or the social media power users who have hundreds of friends and whose opinions everyone trusts.
Chris Winfield brought us through how to use social media to get the initial message out about our new campaign launch. Since social media is basically word of mouth marketing after drinking a lot of Red Bull, beginning a conversation within the social media sphere can be very successful. Chris shared this step-by-step progression that a viral campaign could follow on its way to popularity:
So, you have a story that was submitted to Digg, and makes it to page 1. This is seen as Mecca for some marketers, and here is why: Now you are getting 1,000s of visitors to your site every few minutes. Bloggers, who need content to write about, find this Digg top story and share it on their blog. Other bloggers see it and write about it as well. Now the individual readers of the blog see this coverage and share the cool piece of content with their friends via IM or email. Journalists – as Fionn stated above – also read the blogs to get ideas for new stories and they could write about this piece of content as well. Now you have mass exposure in multiple media sources from one tiny little link on a popular site. Excellent.
In order to keep this success going for future viral campaigns, the basic steps spoken by the entire panel were to outline a clear objective when starting the campaign, make sure the content is good and relevant, take time contributing to online communities to spark life within social media and make all pieces of the campaign work together.
What are some of your favorite tactics for promoting viral campaigns?