The Elements of a Successful Viral Campaign
When you’re planning your viral marketing strategy, it’s important to keep in mind
the basic requirements of every viral campaign.
Without these, your stampede
might turn out to be more like a leisurely stroll.
To build a good viral campaign, make sure your plan includes :
A free product or service
The product has to be easily transferable to another person
It has to be able to scale easily
It has to take advantage of other people’s resources
It has to be unique
Over the next few pages, we’re going to take a look at each of these elements, and
examine how you can use them to design and launch your own viral campaign.
Don’t worry. It’s not as complicated as it looks!
There is a Free Lunch, and You’re Serving It
Every single viral campaign begins with giving something away. Every one. It could
be an ebook, a piece of software, an instructional video, or even a few laughs, but
it has to be free. And when we say free, we mean free. Not free with an opt-in or a
free trial. It has to be really free, because you’re going to encourage your
customers to share it with their friends, and no one wants to tell their sister she has
to sign-up for your list to get the cool thing you’re giving away.
Now that doesn’t mean you’re giving away the farm. But you do need to give away
great stuff. There’s lots of ways you can do that, while still leaving your customers
For example, if you build and sell a software package that helps bloggers find free
photos for use on their blog, you could offer a free version of the software that only
searches one database instead of several. Or if you’ve written an ebook, you might
release one chapter for free.
One thing to remember, though, is that the free product must be useful all by itself.
You’re not releasing a free trial, you’re essentially building two products. One which
you’ll give away and one which you will sell, and they both need to be valuable to
your users. Free software that is so limited as to be worthless is not a good
candidate for a viral campaign.
The same is true for a chapter of an ebook that
ends with a question.
Some marketers pull just this sort of trick to “force” customers to upgrade, but very
often it will backfire. Customers are savvy, and they dislike being manipulated this
way, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll lose sales by giving away too
much information, because the opposite is actually true. You’ll gain sales by giving
away great stuff. Especially if your great stuff is easy for your users to share among
their friends, family, and colleagues.
Share and Share Alike
The second element of a fantastic viral marketing campaign is the ability of your
customers to share your product with their peers. Think about the hundreds of
email forwards you get in a year.
That’s because people love to share great stuff.
Good marketers know this and take advantage of it by providing their customers
with what they want, and then they sit back and watch it spread.
Viral campaigns thrive on the Internet largely because of the social networks that
exist. Ten years ago marketers had to rely on telephones and email (maybe) to get
the word out about a new product or a great service. You can imagine the results
were unpredictable and slow to materialize.
Today, we have dozens – maybe even hundreds – of social networks to use to get
our message to the masses. But for some, that means having the opposite
problem: where do you start?
For an online marketer, the first place to start is with your very own email list.
These are the people who already know you, like you, and buy from you. They’re
your biggest fans, and they’re the ones who are most likely to pass your great
products on to their family and friends and social network. So make sure you’re
keeping them informed about the latest products you’re developing, any contests
you’re holding, or any other thing that’s going on that they might want to share.
You probably have an account with several of the more popular social networking
sites, like Facebook and Twitter. But for viral marketing to work in these venues,
you have to be hanging out with the right crowd. If you use Facebook primarily for
friend and family interaction, trying to launch a viral campaign there is probably not
a good move.
The same goes for Twitter and Google Plus.
Do you follow those in your niche, or those who are other marketers?
If it’s the latter, your niche campaign won’t have
very good results here either. Instead, make an effort to follow those who share
your passion for your niche, instead of those who are simply marketing their own
online business. Now if your niche is internet marketing, then you should be
following other marketers, but that’s the only exception. Concentrate on following –
and being followed by – those who are in your niche, but who are not necessarily
selling in your niche. In other words, you want to be hanging out with the buyers,
not the sellers.
For strictly social interaction, Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter are your number
one choices. If your target market is other business owners, though – say for
example you sell a product aimed at accountants – you need to get on LinkedIn. If
you’re not familiar with it, LinkedIn is basically a database of business professionals
in all areas of expertise. It’s similar to Facebook, but without the games and other
LinkedIn allows you to network with other professionals in your area of expertise,
form groups, organize meetings, and develop a vast network of colleagues you can
reach out to through private messaging or by posting status updates. You can
automate your LinkedIn updates just like you can with Facebook and Twitter, and
even link your other social network accounts so everything is up to date. If your
product is geared toward professionals, LinkedIn is the social network of choice.
For viral campaigns built around funny videos, great photography, comic strips, or
other visual media, StumbleUpon is the social network of choice. A combination of a
social application and a bookmarking service, StumbleUpon is where you go when
you’re looking for new stuff on the Internet. Just click the button on your toolbar,
and you’ll be transported to the next interesting thing as determined by the choices
you made when you signed up. Like animals? StumbleUpon will serve up a random
cat video or heartwarming dog story. Into sports? You might land on a video of
Tiger Woods hitting a hole in one, or an ad for a new kind of practice ball.
Of course, getting your content to go viral on a social network involves more than
just putting it out there and hoping for the best. Later on we’ll discuss how you can
give your campaign a virtual push to get it started, but for now, just be aware of
the options available in the social networking world. Each has its own purpose and
followers, so pay attention to where your customers hang out to determine the best
social networks for your needs.
Learn to Use Your Friends and Their Resources
Leveraging the power of your own network is an important aspect of any successful
viral campaign. Chances are some of your friends are marketers just like yourself,
and chances are they’ve got mailing lists, blogs, and Twitter followers in related,
complementary niches. These are powerful assets you can use when it comes to
launching a viral campaign.
Here’s a short list of ways you can leverage the resources of other marketers to get
the word out about your new campaign:
Buy ad space on related blogs
Guest post on related, but non-competing blogs
Buy ad space in newsletters in your niche
Offer affiliate commissions for lead generation
Make yourself available for interviews about your product or business
Make it Special
The final element of any viral marketing campaign is its uniqueness. The same old
eBook offering the same old, seen-it-everywhere plan for planning a destination
wedding isn’t likely to go viral. But add a new twist or your unique take on it, and
suddenly it has potential.
That doesn’t mean you have to invent a new way to train dogs, though. It just
means you have to offer a unique view. In other words, be yourself. You’ll get a lot
further by giving your eBook or video or podcast your own voice than you will with
simply rehashing what others have already said many times over.
Another way to add a unique flair to your content is by giving away checklists,
printable workbooks, and other user-friendly features that can’t be found
elsewhere. We’ll talk about that some more in the section on creating viral eBooks,
but for now just remember that unique and unusual products and marketing
campaigns will spread faster and farther than anything else.
You can see that all these elements go together like a jigsaw puzzle. Without all of
them, the picture is incomplete, and they all rely on each other to work. Without
the resources of your friends, your social networking strategy won’t work as well or
be as far reaching.
Without a good product, your friends and readers won’t be likely
to share it with others. Without a great distribution network, it won’t matter how
good your product is, because no one will see it.
This article is actually a Chapter from the Ebook “Getting Viral “
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