How to Ignite Viral Marketing Campaigns For Your Site
December 8, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park
I’m helping to promote the search marketing company I work for at SES Chicago this week and today I had the chance to attend a session called “Igniting Viral Campaigns”. The topic is especially interesting to me because I frequently brainstorm new creative projects that I can promote using social media. Not only is viral marketing usually more cost-efficient (compared to throwing money at advertising), but it has the potential to bring in a huge influx of links and exposure that does wonders if you’re building a brand.
I’ve had a few successes with viral marketing campaigns, namely my crazy contest promotion and my IM Top Blogs list. Both have been extremely effective in building my readership here at Winning the Web.
Chris Winfield of 10e20, Jennifer Laylock of Search Engine Guide, and Fionn Downhill of Elixir Interactive led the conference session and shared some great tips on how to launch viral campaigns. Here are some of the main takeaways.
Why viral marketing?
78% of people trust recommendations from other consumers – which is no surprise. Word-of-mouth marketing works extremely well and viral campaigns are key. The social web is very powerful because your target audience can easily be reached online. 7 out of 10 Americans use the Internet for news and everything is shifting to the Internet. TV news loses 1 million viewers per year and newspaper circulation is down 10% since 2001. Not only that but the majority of journalists are online as well. 97% of them find news sources online, 79% find story ideas on news wires, and 72% read blogs.
Clearly there is a huge opportunity to market your business online and you can tap into the power of word-of-mouth by launching a successful viral campaign. But how?
The basic elements of a viral campaign
- Free products and services
- Effortless transfer to others
- Scales easily from small to very large
- Exploits common motivations, behaviors, and emotions
- Utilizes existing communication networks
- Takes advantage of others’ resources
Examples of good viral content
- Lists, example: The ten commandments have worked for ages
- How-to content and guides
- Surveys, example: 25 best colleges for nerds
- Best-of resources, grab other content and compile like the IM Top Blogs list
- Tools, example: calculator for specific niches
- Videos, example: Will It Blend video series
- Quizzes and badges
Viral content promotion tips
- Use forums and groups to seed the content. Use the Big Boards forum rankings to look for the biggest and most active forums.
- Use social media and news sites like Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and del.icio.us for their ability to influence and attain links and eyeballs.
- Some additional strategies for promotion: blogs, forums, RSS feeds, social bookmarking and tagging, press releases, photo directories and images, social media sites, videos, podcasts, article marketing, ezines and newsletters, white papers, Wikipedia.
Viral marketing guidelines
- Always have clear goals and objectives. Some of the metrics you might use to determine the success of a campaign are subscribers, social bookmarks, comments, links, conversions, etc.
- Promote great content only. If you push sub-par work, it could affect your efforts later on.
- Contribute to the communities. Don’t just intrude on social media sites expecting to reap the benefits. Participate in the conversation and you will be rewarded. Give a little and get some back.
- Have good hosting and be ready. A successful viral marketing campaign is sure to drive a ton of traffic – enough to take down your servers if you’re not prepared.
- You can’t control viral marketing but you can enable it. Keep trying again and again. Most viral efforts don’t take off but every try improves your marketing. The majority of companies will fail 8 to 12 times before finding success with viral campaigns.
Have you launched any successful viral campaigns on your website? What was the key ingredient in making it work? How many tries did it take to get there? Share your stories in the comments below.
I’ll be attending a few more sessions at SES Chicago and blogging about it here. They should be pretty good so stay tuned.If you like this post, subscribe to the RSS feed. Get the latest updates delivered straight to your email or news reader.