The start of Day Two at #BlueGlassFL: attendees were slightly more subdued than the morning before. Folks came shuffling in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino searching for coffee, carbs, and coveted power strips. As everyone settled into the ballroom, Chris Winfield stepped up to the podium to greet the audience with an affable, “So did anybody get lucky last night… at the gaming tables?” (Minds out of the gutter!) Nothing like a jolt of humor to warm up the crowd.
Chris handed the show over to Brent Csutoras, who introduced the panel– Brian Chappell, Social Search Strategist at Ignite Social Media, Chris Bennett, Founder at 97th Floor and Amy Vernon, Director of Viral Marketing Strategies at BlueGlass Interactive. aimClear live-tweeted this session, filled with expert insight & killer takeaways. Read on for full coverage…
Viral Marketing 101: Components, Mechanisms, Techniques
Brian kicked things off, diving into viral mechanisms and seeding strategies. He pointed out that unlike traditional marketing, by which companies develop & execute promotions that cause brand-awareness, viral marketing is about target audiences marketing the brand themselves.
3 Main Components of Viral Marketing
There are three main ingredients in any viral marketing campaign. Of course, the campaign must begin with content- the thing you want to go viral. But as Brian argues, “Content alone is NOT king, seeding and promotion tactics of said content are king.” No matter how clever, catchy or cute the content, it will likely remain static and unnoticed if viral mechanisms are not made available and if the content is not adequately seeded. Every successful viral marketing campaign, therefore, must pay mind to:
Brian highlighted a variety of viral mechanisms that span & incorporate prolific platforms, both on and off-line:
- Forwarding to friends
- Links in widgets
- Facebook likes
- Twitter Retweets
- Free give-aways
- Automatic address book importing
“Viral Mechanism Integration isn’t rocket science,” said Chapell. Initial steps can be as simple as adding “tweet this update” functionality into email campaigns… encouraging customers to become post-purchase advocates with Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons. A bounty of awesome tools await clever marketers looking to connect with their networks & communities.
From traditional to high-tech, holistic to sponsored, online to in-person, there are dozens of techniques & approaches you can consider while seeding content. Here are some of the most popular:
- Press release
- Community outreach
- Pay Per Click
- Banner media
- Email lists
- Word of mouth
- Status updates
The ultimate goal with this initial seeding is to have it germinate (pardon the pun…) into second level seeding, during which audiences pass the content onto the rest of the community and beyond (the nooks & crannies marketers aren’t always allowed in or aware of – coffee talk between fans & their friends). Second-level seeding is the jumping off point for viral marketing… but it’s difficult to achieve this if initial seeding isn’t properly executed… if it’s not, precious time creating content has been totally wasted.
“When it comes to seeding, go BIG or go home.” -Brian Chappell
Seeding Success Factors
Here are some concepts to keep in mind when devising & delivering your viral content:
- Make your content easy to transmit… the easier your content is to share the more likely it will go viral.
- Remind users to keep coming back… offer them some kind of incentive to return to your website or social pages.
- Develop a formula and stick with it.
Long story short: “Make content travel on its own with baked-in viral mechanisms, and make content travel far with seeding techniques,” Brian Chappell concluded. That’s a heck of a triple-threat strategy for successful viral marketing.
Chris Bennett was up next to share his take on viral marketing, beginning with the characteristics of viral content.
Viral content is…
Chris then laid out his Viral Marketing Rules to Live By:
- Don’t reinvent the wheel.
- Social success is hard enough to mimic. Take what’s already out there and make it better.
- DON’T SELL OUT YOUR BRAND!
- It’s not necessary to stoop to crazy stunts and outrageous behavior.
Go The Extra Mile with Graphics
Never underestimate the power of a good-looking graphic. Graphics make for great viral content, especially if they are aesthetically-pleasing, come complete with good data & information and communicate complex ideas with ease. The ultimate goal with graphics? To take the complex and make it simple and easy to share. As Chris points out, it’s the “ah-ha” moments that will go viral.
(Sure, it’s not in English, but… Wow, info! Wow, pretty!)
Chris’ go-to formula for viral marketing campaigns: test, track, repeat. And one of his final pieces of advice to the crowd: build relationships with those that link to you.
Wrapping up the session was Amy Vernon, who took the podium to discuss the direct value in top social media communities for viral marketing.
In with the In-Crowd?
Amy emphasized the concept that not everyone needs to be a part of every community. It’s just not feasible. Find the online community that works for you and be there. Listen, share, interact and be awesome. Amy’s advice is to first be a good member of the community before anything else… social groups don’t invest in members that aren’t invested in the group. Some of the most amazing communities Amy highlighted included Tumblr, Digg & Facebook. Oh yeah – those are some hot spots for sure.
Viral Community Success Stories!
- These assets don’t necessarily deliver mass traffic, but the audiences are generally of good quality & highly engaged. (Hello, 95 reactions!)
- Amy started developing her personal brand on Digg.
- “It it weren’t for Digg, I wouldn’t be here today,” she professed.
- She’s got 11k+ followers on Digg in and of itself, let alone other social channels.
- Yeah Amy, I’d say that’s an awesome success story.
- Food&Wine on Facebook transformed a large passive following into a large engaged following.
- Starbucks utilizes social media outlets at an outrageous level.
So which platform is the best? Amy emphasized the importance of taking time to develop & understand your social objectives in tandem with researching the different platforms. Pick the one(s) that would best align with your goals as well as your brand & personality. It’s worth it to get educated.
Thanks to this lively panel for great advice on successful viral marketing. Stay tuned for more session coverage from BlueGlass Florida right here at aimClear blog!