Everything you assume about viral marketing is likely wrong…
OK, maybe not everything! But if you think that simply putting kittens, puppies, beautiful women, or severely weird stuff out there will automatically make something viral, you’re missing the point.
And if you think your product or service is so great that people will just talk about it, walk away from the mirror right now!
Here’s a quick video on the 3 myths of Viral marketing, followed by some specific advice from someone who specializes in viral marketing for many years (and not just in business, I learned a ton of this creating an educational social network with the same approach…in fact, that’s where I learned this back in 1996).
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Viral marketing is like strumming the right note on a guitar that makes the audience get up, notice, and tell their friends. In this pseudo ADD world driven by choices and choices, a real viral marketing campaign takes off when you get people to stop jumping and start focusing on what you have to offer, and tell their friends.
Myth 1: Viral Has to Be Weird, Wild, and Wacky
When you ask most people about viral campaigns, they almost always talk about the weird video someone sent them.
While that’s certainly viral, and organic, it’s not a recommended practice. If you attach your brand to something weird, wild, and/or wacky, you better hope it works.
If it doesn’t, you will be remembered for a very long time by that failure. As I learned long ago, is it comedy if they don’t laugh?
I’m not against risk taking at all, just saying that doing this right requires sophistication, and humor. Try getting up on stage and make people laugh, it’s really, really hard.
Your viral campaign is on the stage called the Internet, mobile, and social. And people remember the bad attempt as much as the good, and when you try again, you’ve likely burned their interest.
Myth 2: Viral Just Happens
While it’s true that organic viral campaigns come out of nowhere and get spread, when you plan a campaign that kind of luck is not likely.
A good viral campaign will try to create word of mouth, and often is driven more by the female gender than males…that comes from growing up with 6 sisters by the way.
Men share jokes and porn, women share things of value with their friends, and what makes your campaign valuable?
If you want to make it viral and valuable, you need to do some footwork. Don’t just sit around a room, go out and:
- Research Twitter, Facebook, and discussion groups related to your product or service. Watch what people talk about, and look for the very few ideas they really jump up and down about. What’s important to them, not you, is the key there.
- You won’t find this importance in your own head, and they often don’t know what’s important to them. Bank on it and define the 3 core elements related to your product or service, and test it out.
- Try to start a simple conversation, see if people react, and if they don’t, ask them why via email..and phone if you’re smart…and do not encourage them to lie to save face, you must be able to handle the truth, which only they know (though not consciously!).
- Know the times of day your audience frequents social media, opens your emails, visits your site, and the time of year that are related to your product. People buy more during the holiday season, yet many on the Internet still act like it’s a year round gig that’s all the same.
- Listen to your audience, listen and learn, THEN develop your viral campaign.
- And if you’re really stuck, or convinced you have to do it tomorrow, at least go to Amazon and read reviews of books related to the product or service you offer, anything that promises to deliver.
- Read the 5 star reviews and cut/paste the words they use to praise, and always read the 1 star reviews for what was missing. The latter will give you a focused, blunt answer that may shock you, because when people are let down, they get angry…and anger is just the opposite of love! Put these two together and you’ll find the seeds of a viral campaign.
Myth 3. Convert on Referrals, Don’t Try to Convert the First Visitors
As I share in my Social Media video on marketing to pleasure instead of pain, remember that the first wave who visit your campaign are the judges.
It is their job to share you with their friends; these are the bloggers, the reviewers, the curators, and the wall you must overcome so they will invite their friends, their followers, and their fans.
Try to convert them and you lose, like most old school Internet marketers are doing. Get them to refer and participate, and the next wave they invite in will see activity from people they trust.
That trust opens the door and comes in 10-20X the amount of first visitors. Check your referral rates (how many people are referred, easy on Facebook), track how people invite, and drive them to specific landing pages that help you see if they are interacting, or ignoring you.
The gold is in the second wave of visitors, who give you their trust because the first wave said so….
Let me know your viral marketing questions below, what do you think, and what have you tried?
And are you leaving the comfort of your ideas to swim in the power of the audience, or just winging it?