Issues on Viral Marketing

October 30, 2008

Viral Marketing. Whenever somebody asks me what I do for a living, and I say Viral Marketing, I am more often than not met with a questioning look or an inquisitive question that can be summed up by the following question – “What the heck is that?” There have been a lot of definitions for viral – and it’s been interchanged with Guerilla Marketing and Word of Mouth Marketing, each a division of grassroots marketing on its own right. Analyzing the word viral, coming from virus, tells us that it is marketing that spreads on its own, once “seeded”, and ideally spreads like wildfire. It is passed on from one unsuspecting victim to another, much like an infection.

Some issues on viral marketing – because of its natural, organic nature, it has been questioned as a valid form of marketing. Can you actually “do” viral marketing”? If it’s supposed to catch on naturally, and an individual or team of individuals help the spreading along, with linking, posting and conversing with the web 2.0 users, is that still natural? In my opinion, this is what we call “seeding”. You have to start from somewhere, and the somewhere is your viral seed in the form of a viral video, a well crafted, yet nonchalant blog comment, or a well-intended viral piece (like a pop-up or a  viral game). You are only as good as your seed. In viral, start good, and you’ll end well, and that trail of people that will lead you to your converting customer are the judges to how virally commendable your piece is. Based on my experience, viral marketing can be done.

Another popular question on viral marketing – “Does it really work?” The partial answer to this is an ambivalent yes and no. It largely depends on two things:

1) Quantity. At what rate are you posting? How many user-generated video sites is your viral video on? Although quantity is not always a guarantee of more clicks, and consequently, more conversion, it does increase the chances. Just like in traditional marketing, the more fliers you hand out, the more chances you have of reaching people.

2) Quality. What do you post? Are you posting mass spammy messages that do the exact opposite of your primary objective, which is drive people away from your site? What about the quality of your site? The viral marketer is only as good as the site he/she is driving traffic to. What are you writing when you post? Do you blend in enough to be perceived as “just another user” but are crafty enough to induce clicks?

Viral Marketing can be a great thing for you, and can have far reaching effects, but like with anything, the approach plays a great factor with its success.

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answers2

Yahoo Answers is one my favorite social media tools — with Answerbag and Askville coming in second. It posts questions and answers to anything under the sun you can imagine — from apples to zebras. Indeed it is a great way to build traffic — but has more viral then SEO benefits. Yahoo Answer links are “nofollow”, yet don’t be so quick to dismiss it as a great marketing tool. Punch in your most relevant keyword on the search field and be sure to search open questions.

Why Yahoo Answers is great:

It is marketing to people who are already looking for you. If your website was an actual store — then they have already knocked on the front door. Answering won’t be imposing your product on them, it will be presenting a solution to a problem.

You can answer as many questions as you want. Just be sure not to be “spammy” and always assume the persona of someone who’s out to help people (which are you are doing really). Leave a link and be casual about it. Don’t overdo it though, Yahoo Answers can and will suspend abusers who overpost and are too candidly promoting themselves. Yahoo Answers can be a friend, but can also be a very bad foe.

You can be anyone, anywhere. I am talking about Avatars (in Yahoo Answers I am a brunette in Hawaii). Well this one doesn’t have any viral benefits, but it’s fun.

Search engines love Yahoo Answers. When you plug-in a question on the Google or Yahoo search field, more often than not a Yahoo Answers page will come up.

You earn points every time you answer a question. What are the points for? Just like in “Who’s line is it anyway?” the points don’t matter. But it does give you the freedom to ask a question. You earn 10 points for getting “Best Answer.” Having the “best answer” is a nice little pick up in your day, not only that it could also mean higher chances for traffic and conversion.

And lastly, for the simple reason that it works! It has worked in increasing traffic to several clients I’ve worked with in the past.

So that’s my tribute to Yahoo Answers. Maybe I should post the friend or foe question on the site. What do you think? Is Yahoo Answers friend or foe? 🙂

The Tipping Point

July 2, 2008

Perhaps one of the hardest questions to answer in online marketing (and in life for that matter) is what’s the point? In dating you would ask a guy what his intention was, if you don’t want to play the does he/she like me game. In business, it seems simple enough, but you have to know what your client is looking for exactly. Is the client just looking for more traffic — undifferentiated? Is the client looking to attract the attention of a certain demographic? Email list sign up? Newsletter sign up? Of course, the obvious answer would be ROI, conversion, yadda yadda. But not everyone online is selling something, and not everyone who wants online marketing is selling something. The question to ask is “What do you want?” — to be able to deliver the service to the client exactly as they want it.

My professor in extreme marketing has reiterated through the course that “branding” is useless. At the end of the day when you don’t get an 11 to 1 ROI, you’re not generating an “a” business. That is true, yet I beg to differ slightly. Which leads me to another discussion — working in online marketing for about two years now is that persona matters. It’s like choosing the clothes you were when you go out. The way you dress is the way you will be initially perceived. Another point to ask, aside from what the point of the whole campaign is, is who do you want to be? Who do you want to be to your fans/customers? Do you want to be the messianic rapper? Do you want to be the “go to” authority in the happenings and latest news in your area?

buzz

Buzz is always great — as the cliche goes “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” But you have to know the goals of your buzz. Or else, the buzz will have as much effect as cackling chickens. Know your end result and make it your vanishing point. Stare straight forward, and drive on.


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Cross-eyed linking

May 22, 2008

cat

Los Angeles is as ambivalent as a cross-eyed cow crossing the street right now. Hot and Cold, hot and cold, wind and humidity, humidity and wind. Southern California is known for awesome whether, but it’s as unpredictable as the crazy bums in downtown and the crazy filthy-rich stars of Hollywood.

Well, on to linking. What shall we learn and explore today? Crosslinking — You don’t have to link in just one direction.

A great way to drive traffic to your website that I will talk about today is crosslinking. If you’re like me, you’ve gotten out there and shook hands with people and maybe applauded them on their blog efforts. You’ve left comments on other blogs to increase your web presence. If you’re like me, the first thing that comes to mind is to network with like blogs. If you have a dating blog, then you link from and socialize with dating bloggers. If you have a health blog, you socialize virtually with health bloggers. And so on and so forth. But the best kind of linking you can do is to link from sites that are indirectly related – sites with themes that have some connection to your site, but doesn’t mirror your site’s product or content. This is called crosslinking.

Just what exactly is crosslinking? It is linking from and making comments on blogs and sites that are diagonally related. If I’m promoting a blog about a toothpaste, I’d crosslink from a dating site and offer them information on how to get fresh breath on their dates. Maybe I’ll search for sites about diabetes because diabetics are more inclined to have bad breath and might need my toothpaste. If I’m promoting nightlamps I’d want to link from home and garden, home decor or home accessories sites. I might even search for sites that are related to rugs, beddings, or wall decor! The possibilities are infinite.

It’s time to get creative and think of other things that you might think of when you think of your product or service. Get out of your online “shell” and network boldly!


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Apologies to the blogosphere and my readers, it is quite a big crime not to post in two straight weeks, been inundated with several personal and career tasks, plus my brother visited from Philly. Excuses, excuses, I know. Learned much in the past couple of weeks. The only way to really learn viral is to ride on the viral tidal wave and surf and surf!

Apparently online surfing is much easier for me than actual surfing. Went surfing in Santa Monica Beach this past weekend and I barely saw a wave coming when I decided to back off enjoy the cool wind lying face down on my towel, and be a total girl and cheer on the guys as they embarked on the whole new world of riding the cool ocean waves. Water was freezing, I didn’t freeze to death, but I froze enough to want to back off.

Personal updates aside, I want to talk about viral video again — I bring up this topic so much because the explosion of viral video interests me — in how it plays such a big part in viral marketing, the kind of attention it gets (in the form of hits) and how different companies have leveraged user-generated video sites like youtube, viddler, metacafe and google videos put some spotlight on a person, service or product. I’ve found a lot of interesting viral videos — ones that have redefined what they could be used for. There really is no limit — after all, viral video is for us, by us. Many are called, few are chosen though. Posting a video on youtube doesn’t always translate to hits.

What weird purposes have driven people to use viral video? And what has generated a lot of traffic?

1. Communicate with the president. This is a video of literally a throng of Filipino prisoners telling our beloved president Gloria Arroyo to wake up from political slumber and start addressing the real problems of Filipino people.

2. Defend the case of religion. Religion has been getting a bad rap, something meant to be a boon but has been perceived lately as a society bane. Really, you’re not that original if you say that “religion is the root of all evil”. I personally think that my spirituality is an indispensable, inextricable part of me. Don’t be mislead by the sexy picture — it’s a cover to grab attention that has nothing to do with the content. I wish they didn’t have to mislead the viewer though. It is great to be socially relevant without having to use a sexual bait.

3. Apply for a dream job at Disney. Watch the video and learn. Resumes are so last century.

4. Publicly apologize. No apologies for this viral video purpose. Remember Kramer’s (of Seinfeld) big faux pas at his comedy club stint? He said sorry — how many hearts he won back I don’t know, but this video merited 1,686,941 hits so far since November 2006.

5. Lastly, and my favorite one — is to edify women. Too many videos use sex (usually in the form of the female anatomy) to sell, to catch attention. Why don’t we use viral video to inspire and lift up for a change? “I am a woman. Look at me. Get to know me. To be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known.” Check out “Woman at the Well.” This is a contemporary oral interpretation of the Samarian woman at the well that Jesus spoke to in the bible.

The possibilities for viral video is boundless. Find any interesting videos lately?


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Hello sneezers and infecters. The Viral Trolls post is quite a success – I’ve now got bragging rights to the top one spot for the keywords “Viral Trolls.” Apparently, people throw around the troll word all the time, but have not really talked about it much in a single post. Yay, I got the top one spot. It’s not the most profitable keywords in the world, but it does allow me to brag about it in this itty bitty blog.

What I’ve chosen to write about today is to give some “DoFollow” help to viral blog commentors out there. The “revolution”, or “phenomenon” how over you want to call it has been going on for a year or more. So we can move on to why turning your blog into a “dofollow” is utterly profitable and why you should link from “dofollow” sites – let’s see what Wikipedia says about “nofollow” and what it is exactly:

“nofollow is an HTML attribute value used to instruct some search engines that a hyperlink should not influence the link target’s ranking in the search engine’s index. It is intended to reduce the effectiveness of certain types of search engine spam, thereby improving the quality of search engine results and preventing spamdexing from occurring in the first place. The concept for the specification of the attribute value nofollow was designed by Google’s head of webspam team Matt Cutts and Jason Shellen from Blogger.com in 2005.”

“Nofollow” was initiated to fight spam, yet it has affected decent backlinkers and blog commentors as well. Luckily for us we have a choice, as there are more “dofollow” sites emerging, where you can actually be rewarded for your linking efforts.

If you have SEO for FIREFOX you’ll notice that some links are actually highlighted in red — these are “no follow” links — meaning the search engine spiders crawl over them like they don’t exist. Blog comments on “nofollow” blogs usually have a purely viral effect. It could still drive traffic to your site though — in a viral way — somebody clicks on your link and finds your site.

Another way to find out if the link is no follow is to press control + U while you’re at the page in question and search for the words “no follow” on your page’s source page. (does that make sense?) It’s gonna look like a little something like this:

no follow

I actually did some research as to how to make my own blog a “dofollow” blog. I’d love to get a barrage of comments. (Come on, who doesn’t like attention? Even if it is virtual.) It entails getting a plug-in.. I currently cannot use this plugin as of the moment, having a free blog on wordpress.com — but this will be coming soon once I pay for outside hosting — a promise to myself and my readers. Here are some sites that offer wordpress.org hosting. Hosting your blog on another server has a lot of benefits — one among them is being able to join the Do follow revolution. Another is being able to install plug-ins, and some widgets that actually only work on wordpress.org (one of them is Blogrush – the traffic driving widget).

Some hosts:
DreamHost
MediaTemple
Blue Host

For a complete list of hosting services check out wordpress hosting .

Well the obvious question now is, apart from making my blog a do follow blog, how do I find dofollow blogs, forums and etcetera to link from? Where is dofollow web 2.0? A little skittle around the web for dofollow resources actually proved to be very productive. I actually posted a question on digitalpoint forums and asked how to get high PR links without spending a lot? Apparently, I end up answering my own question.

Do follow search engines. Type your keyword and find only dofollow results.

The best one garnering from the feedback of many is Backlinkspot
Some others are
Commenthunt
Ezbusinessneeds

One personal favorite is W3ec . The interface is very revolutionary. (If you check it out you’ll see what I mean.)

Here are some more great links:

21 Dofollow Social Bookmarking Sites
. Bookmark your way to the Pagerank you’ve always dreamed of!
Sites that really do follow. Dofollow directory.
Do follow blog community. Like blogcatalog or technorati, only these is exclusively for bloggers who follow. Did you follow me?
Do Follow Blogs. Another do follow blog directory.
List of forums that allow “do follow” signature links
Sign your way to link juice.

Backlinking has never been so rewarding, and having too many comments never so accepted. If they say you have something to say about everything, maybe you should be saying what you say in do follow blogs.

Hope this helps you. Spread the virus.


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What is Viral Marketing?

April 11, 2008

This may not be the type of question that actually plagues the mind of many — or anyone loses sleep over — yet to those who care about Web 2.0, social media, blogging, etctera, it may mean more. It has been confused with grassroots marketing — marketing at the foot of the ladder, word-of-mouth marketing — self-explanatory, and blog marketing — which ineffectively narrows it to only one form of social media.

I was in my extreme marketing class in UCLA extension and our professor asked what viral marketing was. I thought for half a second, realizing that I knew how to do it better than I knew how to define it. The answer I formulated was:

The dictionary definition of a virus is a condition that spreads from one person to another. Viral marketing is when the marketing message is spread from one person to another. Pretty simple.

In Wikipedia, Viral Marketing is described as —

“Creating entertaining or informative messages that are designed to be passed along in an exponential fashion, often electronically or by email.”

Can’t argue with wikipedia. But wait, apparently you can only be entertaining or informative. They’re mutually exclusive terms. So Wikipedia is not entertaining? Gotcha! 🙂

It’s like spreading a cold. If you’ve infected a bunch of people then you sneeze pretty well. The difference is that in viral marketing, you must know the first people to sneeze into — the influencers, and when you’ve got the big men – (read: in viral video you hit youtube, in viral music you hit, ilike, and in social media…I’ve got to stop, i’m indecisive between myspace and facebook.) and when you’ve hit it big time with the big men, theoretically it’s supposed to spread like wildfire. There are a few examples that actually did — so fast it should be called epidemic marketing like some cases I will study later on the next post. For other less fortunate viral candidates, usually when the product is not really entertaining nor informative — like flower vases for example — viral marketing has to be done one by one, going from blog to blog, forum to forum, sneezing on each influencer and hoping to get as much mucus out of them. Yet I firmly believe that there’s a shock factor in any product. Anything can be sexy or funny (the top two valued characteristics in marketing) with a little creativity.

My own 2 cents about viral marketing:

It is neither hard sell or soft sell – the two traditional categories of advertising. It is subtle, sometimes sly, sometime even deliberately deceiving. Examples: Subtle — leaving a blog comment on a related blog, reacting intelligently to the post, and skillfully linking it to the website, person, product or service. Sly — pretending to be a buyer reviewing a product when you’re actually a seller endorsing a product. Think amazon reviews. Deliberately deceiving – extreme examples where marketers came up with a total hoax to get traffic. One unique example is a virgin’s plea.(2006)

This guy actually pretended to be a virgin trying to get laid. The girl he desired would only agree to sex if he had 5 million visitors to his site. Many fell for it, gave him sympathy and help, and later when he revealed that it was a marketing ploy, the disgust of many.

The question is, is this still viral marketing? Or is it a genius, albeit twisted, stunt that happened to click and generate massive traffic and publicity? I believe that viral marketing should deal with “clean viruses” because stunts will come and bite you in the behind later, and you will be left lonely, with no credibility, like the boy who cried wolf. If you don’t want your product to be a one-hit-wonder, you must stick to the truth.

Be funny, relevant and sexy. In that order. Funny flies better than relevant. If you can’t be funny, be relevant. Like the rubix cube video in youtube. If you can’t be relevant then take the easy way out, be sexy. Disclaimer: I am in no way endorsing porn.

Here are some unexpectedly famous viral videos. They are not funny, nor sexy, only relevant.

Free Hug

Rubix Cube Video

And the meta-viral video — the viral video on viral videos. This one is funny, relevant, and hey, that voice is kind of sexy. I gotta post this one. I could learn a thing or two from this.

If people you infect don’t infect others, then your virus is dormant. You gotta change the marketing message, or do something drastic like send a fake letter saying that you have 5,000,000,000 USD just waiting to be wired to your marketing victim, if only he gives his bank information to you, a total stranger. Nah, just edit your message. Much easier.

Lastly, Viagra is the scum of the viral marketing universe.

There you go. Now I gotta sleep. See you tomorrow. 🙂 No pictures today.


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