Category Archives: Social Marketing

Going Viral Is Good For Business

The goal of any business owner interested in creating a successful viral marketing campaigns is to identify individuals or outlets with high Social Networking Potential (read “How Ford Got Social Marketing Right“) and create viral messages that appeal to this segment of the population.

Notable examples of viral marketing are “Ponzi schemes”, “Pyramid schemes” and multi-level marketing (MLM).  Today, they have been replaced by the likes of The Big Word Project, Will it Blend and The Mike O’Meara Show.

At the height of B2C (Business to Consumer) it seemed as if every startup had a viral component to its strategy, or at least claimed to have one. However, relatively few marketing viruses achieve success on a scale similar to Hotmail, widely cited as the first example of modern-day viral marketing.

Viral Marketing Defined

According to Wikipedia, viral marketing refers to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages.

Elements of Viral Marketing

A viral message has the ability to be forwarded on the Internet. An effective viral marketing strategy:

  • Give away products or services
  • Provides for effortless transfer to others
  • Scales easily from small to large
  • Exploits common motivations and behaviors
  • Utilizes existing communication networks
  • Takes advantage of others’ resources

YouTube is a great example of viral marketing. Due to a combination of elements (from timelines to inherent humor to the manner in which the clip is distributed), certain video clips on YouTube end up as “Viral Videos.” The name is an allusion to the manner in which diseases spread–these videos, like a new strain of flu virus, start out being shared among a few people. But, also like the same flu virus, as each person who has been exposed to the video continues to pass a link to it along, the videos rack up view counts and end up viral-like phenomena.

Here are 34 ways to use YouTube (and other video hosting services) for business.

Different methods of Viral Marketing

E-mail: One of the easiest and simplest methods is email. It can be in the form of articles or advertisements which are sent to a large number of people based on your mailing list and if it results in forwarding the mail to other friends or known persons then viral marketing occurs.

Web forms: Various forms are available on the web and if your click on them, you are asked to fill in certain details that might include e-mail addresses. You are prompted to send something to your friend and if you willingly pass it to others, it is viral marketing.

Blogs: An effective viral marketing can be done through blogs. The links or information contained on a blog can often be copied to some other blogs and this increases the reach. With numerous blogs published on the Internet, you can expand exponentially.

Forums and Messages: Sending links through different messages or forums can be considered to be another type of viral marketing. A link that is present in a forum or chat room can often lead to greater links to your website than you might even expect.

Bookmarking: Allowing an easy process to your audience so that they can bookmark your website, can lead to expanding your network. If a visitor bookmarks your website, the potential of viral marketing gets enhanced.

Online Video Audience Continues To Climb

Despite having achieved mainstream status a few years ago, the total audience for online video continues to balloon. And YouTube’s dominance in the category seems boundless, as the site delivered more than 10 times as many video streams as any other site in the U.S. last month.

According to the latest report issued by Nielsen Online, 137.4 million Americans watched Web video in December, a healthy increase of 10.3 percent versus the same month in 2008. Those viewers streamed over 10.7 billion videos during the month, representing an increase of 11.8 percent versus the same time period a year earlier.

While the number of streams per visitor showed only marginal growth, Web video viewers are watching longer clips on average; time spent (per viewer watching online video) jumped 13.2 percent to 193.2 minutes in December.

And while Hulu, the joint venture between News Corp., NBC Universal and Disney, continues to demonstrate tremendous growth—making it the No. 2 video site on the Web—YouTube continues to account for a disproportionate amount of the video consumed on the Internet. The Google-owned property streamed over 6.4 billion clips in December, per Nielsen, while Hulu streamed almost 635 million videos. YouTube also reached nearly 106 million unique viewers versus Hulu’s 13.6 million.

Curiously, Nielsen and rival comScore continue to report audience numbers for Hulu that are miles apart in scope. While comScore’s data places YouTube far ahead of other players in the segment, it estimates Hulu’s audience to be over 43 million users—roughly 30 million users more than Nielsen’s estimates. Similarly, according to Hulu, comScore’s data indicates that the site’s average monthly streams recently topped 920 million—almost 300 million more than Nielsen tracked.

Source Media Week

30 Tips For Using Social Media In Your Business

Inc. has boiled down 30 tips — from using social networks to generate leads to what not to say in your blog — for the time-strapped but socially curious CEO.

1. Offer a peek behind the scenes. Offering a sneak preview of new products, services, or features online can help build demand and provide critical feedback to help smooth the launch. For instance, John Doyle, founder of chocolate company John and Kira’s in Philadelphia, posts photos of new products on Flickr and invites comments from customers.

2. Harness your expertise. Chances are your company’s white paper won’t go viral. But sharing knowledge you’ve gathered through your trade can go a long way toward boosting your brand. Ford Models, for instance, became a YouTube sensation through a series of videos that featured its models giving beauty and fashion tips.

3. Demonstrate what your company does. Because multimedia is so integral to social media, getting connected allows you to express your company’s value proposition beyond words. To show just how powerful his company’s blenders were, Blendtec’s head of marketing, George Wright, created a series of videos showing the appliances churning up such diverse items as a rotisserie chicken, a Rubik’s Cube, and an iPhone. The series’ 100 million combined views helped boost Blendtec’s sales by 700 percent.

View all of the tips provided by Inc.

Engage, Encourage & Craft Your Social Marketing Campaign

Ford recently wrapped the first chapter of its Fiesta Movement, leaving us distinctly wiser about marketing in the digital space.

Ford gave 100 consumers a car for six months and asked them to complete a different mission every month. And away they went. At the direction of Ford and their own imagination, “agents” used their Fiestas to deliver Meals On Wheels. They used them to take Harry And David treats to the National Guard. They went looking for adventure, some to wrestle alligators, others actually to elope. All of these stories were then lovingly documented on YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter.

The campaign was an important moment for Ford. It wanted in to the small car market, and it hadn’t sold a subcompact car in the United States since it discontinued the Aspire in 1997.

And it was an important moment for marketing. The Fiesta Movement promised to be the most visible, formative social media experiment for the automotive world. Get this right and Detroit marketing would never be the same.

I had the good fortune to interview Bud Caddell the other day and he helped me see the inner workings of the Fiesta Movement. Bud works at Undercurrent, the digital strategy firm responsible for the campaign.

Under the direction of Jim Farly, Group VP at Ford and Connie Fontaine, manager of brand content there, Undercurrent decided to depart from the viral marketing rule book. Bud told me they were not interested in the classic early adopters, the people who act as influencers for the rest of us. Undercurrent wanted to make contact with a very specific group of people, a passionate group of culture creators.

Bud said,

The idea was: let’s go find twenty-something YouTube storytellers who’ve learned how to earn a fan community of their own. [People] who can craft a true narrative inside video, and let’s go talk to them. And let’s put them inside situations that they don’t get to normally experience/document. Let’s add value back to their life. They’re always looking, they’re always hungry, they’re always looking for more content to create. I think this gets things exactly right. Undercurrent grasped the underlying motive (and the real economy) at work in the digital space. People are not just telling stories for the sake of telling stories, though certainly, these stories have their own rewards. They were making narratives that would create economic value.

The digital space is an economy after all. People are creating, exchanging and capturing value, as they would in any marketplace. But this is a gift economy, where the transactions are shot through with cultural content and creation. In a gift economy, value tends to move not in little “tit for tat” transactions, but in long loops, moving between consumers before returning, augmented, to the corporation. In this case, adventures inspired by Undercurrent and Ford return as meaning for the brand and value for the corporation.

Undercurrent was reaching out to consumers not just to pitch them, but to ask them to help pitch the product. And the pitch was not merely a matter of “buzz.” Undercurrent wanted consumers to help charge the Fiesta with glamor, excitement, and oddity — to complete the “meaning manufacture” normally conducted only by the agency.

This would be the usual “viral marketing” if all the consumer was called upon to do was to talk up Fiesta. But Undercurrent was proposing a richer bargain, enabling and incenting “agents” to create content for their own sakes, to feed their own networks, to build their own profiles…and in the process to contribute to the project of augmenting Fiesta’s brand.

Fiesta’s campaign worked because it was founded on fair trade. Both the brand and the agent were giving and getting. And this shows us a way out of the accusations that now preoccupy some discussions of social media marketing. With their gift economy approach, Ford and Undercurrent found a way to transcend all the fretting about “what bright, shining object can we invent to get the kids involved?” and, from the other side, all that “oh, there he goes again, it’s the Man ripping off digital innocents.” It’s a happier, more productive, more symmetrical, relationship than these anxieties imply. Hat’s off to Farley and Fontaine.

The effects of the campaign were sensational. Fiesta got 6.5 million YouTube views and 50,000 requests for information about the car—virtually none from people who already had a Ford in the garage. Ford sold 10,000 units in the first six days of sales. The results came at a relatively small cost. The Fiesta Movement is reputed to have cost a small fraction of the typical national TV campaign.

There is an awful lot of aimless experiment in the digital space these days. A lot of people who appear not to have a clue are selling digital marketing advice. I think the Fiesta Movement gives us new clarity. It’s a three-step process.

• Engage culturally creative consumers to create content.
• Encourage them to distribute this content on social networks and digital markets in the form of a digital currency.
• Craft this is a way that it rebounds to the credit of the brand, turning digital currency (and narrative meaning) into a value for the brand.

In effect, outsource some of our marketing work. And in the process, turn the brand itself into an “agent” and an enabler of cultural production that is interesting and fun. Now the marketer is working with contemporary culture instead of against it. And everyone is well-served.

Source Grant McCracken Harvard Business Review