I am surprised at how mysterious this wide world of viral marketing is to many of my colleagues. It reminds me of the days when companies were first learning about the Internet. Companies were slow to climb on the Internet learning curve then and now I feel like this is a mass déjà vu moment again.
So to help accelerate the learning curve this time around, I’d like to explain what viral marketing is NOT because it’s easier first to explain what something is NOT and then you can better understand what it is. So here is my top five list of what viral marketing IS NOT. Take note comrades – nothing is a silver bullet and viral marketing is no exception.
1) Viral marketing does not cost a lot
It is a mistake to assume that viral marketing is something that happens if you sprinkle pixie dust into the Internet engine. There are costs but it is often hidden. Great viral marketing is about participating “in the conversation”. That takes time. The “time is money” cliché is true. And guess what – since there are no automated tools to participate in the conversation – participation can be time consuming and therefore not cheap.
2) Build a blog and they will come
Sound familiar? Marketers rushed to create websites using that mantra and we know how that ended. Getting a blog going is just the beginning but for it to help create brand buzz requires time and diligence and patience. Blogging at its best can give your brand a personality and a way for people to engage with you. But it needs care and feedling just like any other marketing tactic.
3) Viral campaigns can’t be planned – it just happens
On rare occasion that is true. But here’s the reality – most viral marketing successes are the result of careful planning, good execution and a sound strategy. Just like any other marketing campaign.
4) Viral marketing can take care of itself
Successful viral marketing is no different than managing a successful direct marketing campaign or advertising campaign or public relations initiative. It must be measured so it can be managed.
Which leads me to the final myth …
5) You can’t really measure a viral campaign
This is arguably one myth that does the most damage and is a myth that agencies like to promote. After all, it is in the agencies best interests to convince clients that viral marketing can’t be measured because then there is no accountability. But not only is viral marketing measurable – it is in some ways easier to measure than many other tactics. You can measure traffic volumes, responses to blogs and more. So next time your agency hems and haws about measuring a viral marketing campaign – keep looking. You can do better.
So now that we have debunked some of the biggest myths – what now? Let’s talk about what’s a good way to execute a viral campaign. There is a new disciplined type of viral marketing called “content campaigns” that uses an emerging model, PVR – public + viral relations. This means that all content is focused on a few themes and it is distributed across all media – PR, SEO, corporate blogs, white papers, seminars etc etc. By coordinating content creation and distribution, you can optimize search volume and that my friends is how business gets done today.
Filed under: blog, blogging, brand awareness, direct marketing, judy shapiro, online marketing, pr, search engine optimization, SEO, social media, traffic, viral marketing | Tagged: , pr, SEM, SEO, social media, viral marketing |