‘Tis budget season and marketing people are all a flutter trying to decide how to spend their 2009 dollars.
As the American Economy gives more and more recession indicators, marketing budgets are going to hold even at best and most likely will shrink this year.
Smart marketers know that Viral Marketing aka Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM) can be an inexpensive yet HUGELY effective means of getting your message out.
The Igniting Viral Media Session, Day 1 at SES San Jose was jam packed with great information on how to make your viral campaigns more effective from some of the search industry’s top viral marketers:
Chris Winfield CEO of 10e20,
1) When blogging think beyond the traditional WordPress or Blogspot to twitter.
2) Social networking is more than Facebook and MySpace. International sites like Bebo have a tremendous reach in their markets.
3) Don’t forget video when thinking WOM. YouTube has made online video much easier now. Users can upload view, discuss and share video clips.
4) Use forums and groups. This is probably the most powerful yet most overlooked opportunity. Forums are filled with niches of people who want to talk about what you do. If something goes truly viral you’ll see tons of traffic from these niche sites.
5) To find the most popular forums use http://big-boards.com/ for most popular forums
6) There are social news and bookmarking sites like Digg Delicious and SU in every niche. If you identify the niche sites they can be used to help spread your message.
7) Digg can be utilized for the spin off effect that it creates. People use Digg to find the content. Then they bookmark the content and it goes popular on delicious, etc. Plus media use Digg to find story ideas and good content.
8) Top 10 Types of Content that have an opportunity to go viral:
- lists for example the most famous list ever is the 10 commandments
- how to’s i.e. martha stewart
- surveys’ i.e. US News
- Comprehensive posts – give people something that they would want to link to.
- something with a strong opinion – take heed though. It can go viral like crazy but may go viral in a way you don’t want it to.
- best of’s
- calculators tools – stuff that helps people to do stuff better, easier
- video – must be interesting. will it bend takes a boring industry and made it interesting
- widgets – make it easy for people to put on your site (easy for link building)
- quizzes and badges – create fun quizzes that people can put them on their sites and link back to you
9) Make the sites work together. Upload to Digg , then use SU, Forums, etc to promote the Digg Submission.
10) Make sure you have good hosting. If something does go viral you want to make sure that your site doesn’t go down due to the traffic spike it gets (i.e. the Digg Effect).
11) Consider your Objectives before you select a strategy. Most content doesn’t go viral. What is your goal? To get the attention of journalists? To get links? or to create a buzz? Each of these will have a different strategy.
12) Use an Influence the Influencer’s Strategy. Identity who influences the space and where do these people get their news? This is where you need to start building relationships.
13) Consider your approach. The most common approach is simply to contact people of influence. But typically your most influential online personalities is also approached the most from people who want something from them. A much better approach to cut through the clutter is to develop relationships with them in advance so when you do contact them, they know who you are and you have a relationship with them. This can be done by send them info, supporting their blog through comments, etc.
14) Consider hiring a cartoonist to write a cartoon people (including influencer’s) would want to link to.
15) Hire a high profile guest blogger to write about you. Although this may be costly, typically it will be worth it for credibility they provide. Further, they will often promote their guest post on their blog too.
16) Have a contest. Hire influential “guest bloggers” to judge it. Plus, a great alternative prize could be dinner with one of these People of influence as opposed to your typical plasma tv or trip.
17) Do interviews – Interviews with Experts, CEO’s, & VP’s often they will help to promote the piece too.
18) Do joint research to create white papers, reports, surveys, etc. Team up with someone of influence i.e. if you’re a local business the chamber of commerce to partner with you on the research. They will then help you to promote it.
19) Consider your existing relationships. Generally email and cold calls won’t work with People of Influence who are tough to connect with. If you can, use friends of friends to get through the gate keepers.
20) Enlist your customers to help spread the campaign. Tag a link to the campaign on customer correspondence such as in your email signature, packing slips, etc.
Fionn Downhill CEO of Elixir Interactive:
21) We already know that 78% of people trust “recommendations form consumers” (Neilson Global Survey). But online WOM is different than traditional WOM in that instead of a few people being influenced by their friends, with online WOM now they’re telling thousands of people. The viral effect is so strong, that in some cases you can see a correlation between stock prices and blogosphere activity levels.
22) Using web 2.0 takes time and strategic planned approach for success. You must put your information in the places people are looking. But apart from time, viral marketing does not have to cost much.
23) Free Offers tend to do well virally. i.e. give away products or services
24) Make it really easy for people to share your info virally
25) Make sure your viral campaign scales easily. I.e. if everyone cashes in your offer will it bankrupt you? Or if it generates a lot of traffic will it crash your server?
26) You can ENABLE viral but you can’t CREATE it. So what other tactics help you to enable viral? Forward to a friend, bookmark this page, RSS, add this .com – sharing graphic, etc.
27) Utilize YouTube by setting up your own branded channel and optimizing it.
28) Amateur video tends to do better than polished corporate content. Flip video camera makes it really easy to shoot video, down load it and then upload to YouTube.
29) Use a video distribution service like TubeMogul to upload your video content to many sites. These services also allow you to pull a report on how many people viewed the video.
30) How to measure success of a viral campaign?
- RSS Subscribers
- social bookmarks
- comments on your blog
- links to your site by social media
- what blogs forums are saying about you
- monitor referring links
- track email usage
Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide:
31) Coming up with viral content is great but it’s even better when it ties back to what you do.
32) Know your customer. Marketing Campaigns are all about delivering the goods however you can’t deliver if you don’t know the customer’s desire. Monitor forums, twitter to find out what they’re saying.
33) Try Try again. Most viral efforts don’t take off; every try improves your next marketing campaign.
34) Do something outrageous i.e. Blendtec will it blend video
35) Create or embrace controversy – warning this tactic isn’t for everyone.
36) Look at your analytics to determine which type of site send the best visitors (not just traffic but also time on site, pages viewed) this will helps you know where to feed content.
37) Anticipate campaign costs under different scenarios. i.e. Starbucks had a promotion that was so successful it cost them too much and they had to cancel it.
38) Have established relationships with people that you want to champion your campaign. If you want to use social media then you need to have profiles on social sites and have established relationships with the users of those sites that you want to champion it.
39) Must Do’s before pitching a potential online influencer:
- read at least five of their posts so that you know more about them.
- comment on one or two of their existing posts
- don’t use a form letter, write at least one or two sentences that are unique to the person. ie. read their twitter feed first and then say something that makes it clear that you’ve invested a few moments in them before you ask for something of them.
- make sure your pitch addresses the person by name, and that you have the right email address (not webmaster)
- be completely transparent – let them know who you work for
- spell check your message
- ask yourself if this pitch is really relevant to the online influencer’s readers
- check to see if they have a policy about accepting pitches
- if you pitch multiple writers at the same site – let them know so that you don’t waste their time.
Bonus points from the Q & A:
40) Viral marketing and buzz marketing can mean the same thing don’t get hung up on definitions
41) The best way to come up with good ideas is to identify a problem that your customers want to solve. Spend some time on forums and see what problems people are talking about so you can create a campaign around it.
42) Viral doesn’t have to get on David Letterman to be considered a HUGE success. It’s about building your business by reaching your people in a new way without having to pay for it. At the end of the day we really just want people to talk about your product.
43) What can you do to combat a negative viral campaign?
- Be prepared in advance for if you do get heat over something. i.e. have something prepared to say already (here is why we did this, this is what we meant to say, here is our thinking behind it)
- If you’ve actually screwed up admit it and apologize. You must be honest online.
You can’t make a campaign go viral but following tips like the points covered in this session will help to make sure that you’ve enabled your campaign’s viral qualities.
Jennifer Osborne is VP Business Development for Search Engine People a Toronto SEO Company