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?


Bookmark and Share

Viral Trolls

April 21, 2008

Before I go on to my next topic of discussion –which is a topic of great interest to me, just because I’ve heard it offhandedly dropped in forums — I will show you a picture that is meant to incite fear and disgust. I present to you, his royal lowness — the troll.

troll

It is neither pretty nor pleasant to look at. We often hear this term on the net — “You are trolling.” “Beware of the troll.” The funny thing is, the troll was popular probably only at one point in history — when the troll doll was popular. I remember seriously coveting this doll when I was about 8 or 9. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the “adorable” troll doll. (Kids must’ve been masochistic then to like a doll this ugly).

troll doll

In wikipedia, the internet troll is described as

“An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.”

I encountered this term recently when I was cruising around in Yahoo! Answers. A guy asked this question:
Im a catholic but I hate the Pope and I hate Catholocism. Is that bad?

Somebody said “Troll Alert!” in one of the replies. It seems that trolls are whoever disrupts the pleasant and normal flow of conversation in forums or comment forms. This question doesn’t really deserve a straight answer — it is more of rhetorical. “Is that bad?” seemed to be added just to officially make it into a question. I’ve seen this in youtube comments — commenting just to insult other commentors, without any real purpose of saying something relevant, or vilifying or critiquing the video/post/article in question.

The important point is that nobody should be a viral troll — although I imagine that some people out of extreme emotion probably morph into internet trolls without actually realizing it. Respect other people’s space while you give your 2 cents about the topic at hand. Stick to the topic and be objective. and don’t incite negative buzz just to get attention — it will eventually backfire. Don’t troll through the net, stroll through the net!

Out of curiosity (remember: curiosity killed the troll!) I google the keyword “Viral Troll.” And I ended up finding pretty interesting results:

This is the Top 1 result.

In summary — the angry troll victim shot back, “you are nothing but a viral TROLL… hows that coming from a “parolee scumbag”?

Troll here is used with so much disgust, it is almost like a modern cuss word. And this is understandable. A TROLL search at youtube yielded this video — a guy calling out to the web public in agony, having been victimized by a heartless, ugly, ruthless viral troll.

My heart goes out to this guy. Let’s help make the world wide web troll-free and truly free.

It is interesting to note that “Troll” more than being a unpopular way to be in Web 2.0, is also not a very popular keyword. SEO’ers wouldn’t have a hard time ranking high on this. Google had no data on the keywords “Viral Troll” because there wasn’t enough data to support it.

Check out this article about the increasing popularity of trolling:

Twice as Many Americans Troll Video-Sharing Sites Daily

Just to remind you how ugly trolls are:

(excerpts from the Danish Ballad of Eline of Villenskov) source: Wikipedia

There were seven and a hundred Trolls,
They were both ugly and grim,
A visit they would the farmer make,
Both eat and drink with him.

Out then spake the tinyest Troll,
No bigger than an emmet was he,
Hither is come a Christian man,
And manage him will I surelie

Comments welcome, just don’t be a troll :).


Bookmark and Share

I watched Be Kind, Rewind last Sunday, and I was surprised to see that this Jack Black movie actually had a lot of heart and good content. In the beginning of the movie I was not really amused to see the usual stupid-jackass-dumb and dumber type of jokes, but as the movie progressed, I found myself engrossed, and thinking about how this flick was actually a “viral marketing” flick — a classic example of how a business can go viral — how a business can become successful through word-of-mouth.

The movie moves around “Be kind, rewind,” an old-fashioned, yawn-inducing video store that barely gets customers. They even do some “guerilla marketing” and start painting graffiti on a wall under a bridge, claiming to have caught other taggers doing it when intercepted by the police. This move, a viral stunt that may be perceived as drastic, does not work.

Jack Black gets caught up in electrical wires and gets “magnetized.” (watch the movie to see how this happens) He goes to the store and erases all the content of the videos. They find this out when a depressive, crazy customer comes back and says that her Ghostbuster tape is empty. They come up with the ingenious idea to actually shoot the film and record on the ghostbuster tape, and have the customer think that that is the real ghostbuster movie. More customers come in and they are demanding movies, so Mike and Jerry do all they can to improvise, to fill in the blank tapes and keep business going – afraid of revealing the “tape erasure” to Mr. Fletcher, the owner of the video shop. See the trailer below so you have an idea of what I’m talking about:

The beautiful thing about the success of the Be Kind Rewind video shop is that it started from an innocent idea, meant to cover up a store anomaly. Mike and Jerry become an accidental production house and people end up loving their stuff. What cannot be missed here is that it all started with an ingenious idea. The put a name to the still nameless act of doing “a-la-carte” moviessweded. Who cares if it’s not a verb?

It spread like a virus on the small town of Passaic, New Jersey, and before you know it, they are being visited by enthusiastic patrons from as far as New York. What is interesting is that the act of making movies as requested, of putting the actual customers in the movies, is the same formula that online landslide successes that is used by youtube, digg and even wordpress. Power to the user. Power to the people. The users determine content and they are included in the content. Censors actually shut down the Be Kind Rewind “sweding”operation in the movie — the same way that user-generated sites are commonly set out to be manipulated by the internet giants. But they fight, and create their own movie. For us, by us. Written, produced and directed by the “Be Kind Rewind” community, it is a smashing success. Rightfully called smashing, because the building is “smashed” (destroyed) afterward.

The sweded video is the viral video. It was loved by the community in the movie with the same reason we are in love with youtube — we are part of it. We say what we want. We dictate content. Perhaps this is a point of reflection for viral marketers and web 2.0 ‘ers out there. If the consumer or customer is involved, and it is about them, and they have a say on what goes in your service or product — there is a greater chance that your product, service or idea will be bought.

Whether you are into viral or not, check out this movie anyway. Watching ghostbusters being remade by Mike and Jerry with hilariously funny techniques is worth it.


Bookmark and Share

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.


Bookmark and Share