Welcome back to the second part of our series on viral marketing! In part one, we dispelled some common viral marketing myths and explained the value of viral tactics in a time when engaging consumers with traditional methods is becoming more difficult. This is not to say viral marketing is ‘easy,’ however, and the success of any viral campaign is largely dependent on two factors: the quality of the viral content, whether a video, microsite, widget, game, or otherwise, and the transmission tactics used to seed it.
Today, let’s discuss five time-tested viral transmission tactics that can be used to seed any viral content and how to make them work for you.
1 – Blog Outreach
One of the fastest ways to get your viral content seen by your target demographic is to secure coverage on influential blogs in your niche. For example, if your product is something targeted at moms, you would want to reach out to the most highly read bloggers in the parenting niche. If your product is targeted at college students, you would want to reach out to top bloggers in that niche, and so on.
When reaching out to key bloggers, a common tactic is to keep it simple and make your intent clear. Write a friendly email introducing yourself and let the blogger know what you are promoting and why you think it makes sense for their audience. Include a link to your content and wait for responses.
2 – Social Networking
Social networking is a powerful way to seed viral content. When you share content on a social network, you are sharing it as a ‘friend,’ and it is seen as more of an update than advertisement. Although setting up social networking profiles on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn solely for the purpose of marketing your viral content is not recommended, establishing a presence on social networking sites in advance of your promotion and maintaining them after the fact can work wonders to spread your viral message and brand yourself online over the long term.
Select the social networks that make the most sense for your brand and begin to grow your networks at least one month in advance of your promotion. Add relevant connections, establish two-way communication, pose questions where applicable, and share compelling content two to three times per week to build credibility. When it comes time to seed your viral content, it will seem as if you are simply sharing another ‘update’ with your network and your content is likely to be well received.
3 – Microblogging
Microblogging, a communication platform built around the sharing of short, text-based messages, has revolutionized social media by making it acceptable to connect with people you have little to no history with in the offline world. Although the same connections can be made via larger scale social networks, microblog networks take the focus away from the profile and put it on the conversation. With microblogging, what you have to say can matter more than who you are, and a well-turned phrase or highly relevant article can grow your microblogging network faster than you might expect.
Similar to social networking, it is best to establish your microblogging network at least a month in advance of your promotion. Creating a profile on Twitter is the obvious choice, and in some cases, may be all you need. While niche microblogging networks like Blellow do exist, anyone with a profile on a niche site more than likely has one on the larger, more popular sites as well, so use your resources wisely and go where the people are if you want a great response. Add connections and share relevant content to grow your network. If you’ve done your work beforehand, once it comes time to seed your viral content, it will seem natural to update your network with a targeted link, and people are likely to respond.
4 – Social Bookmarking
If you’ve ever shared a link with someone via e-mail, IM, Facebook, or Twitter, you understand the drive to share compelling content with your connections. Social bookmarking takes this to a new level and gives Internet users a way to organize, save, and share information using a set of tags or keywords that classify the content accordingly, also known as a ‘folksonomy’. This classification system makes it easier for Internet users to find relevant content based on its corresponding tags and popularity among other users, and popular bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit allow users to rate content, the highest rated content given maximum visibility on the sites.
Driven by word-of-mouth, social bookmarking is inherently viral. While it can be difficult to control the fate of the bookmarks you submit, tagging your bookmarks with relevant keywords will put your content on the right track to being discovered. If people catch on, and your content is truly worthwhile, your bookmark will spread like wildfire, generating buzz, blog coverage, bookmarks, page views, and more.
5 – Digital Press Releases
When leveraging the power of a press release in a viral marketing campaign, the basics are still the same: craft a newsworthy release, keep it pithy (read: no more than 400 words), and submit. Paying to distribute your release on digital PR sites often allows you to target specific industries, geographic locations, and websites; take advantage of this feature if you want to get attention, because the people interested in your release are the ones most likely to talk about it.
When it comes to the timing of your release, however, things get a bit trickier. In the scope of a viral campaign, it is often smarter to use a press release to capitalize on buzz already created. Distributing a press release after you’ve already created a significant buzz with a PR stunt at an industry conference or a hilarious viral video can help generate more interest in your brand than distributing a release simply to announce your video would. Wait until people are talking about you and then use a press release to keep them talking. People will be more interested in your release if other people are interested, too!
I hope this article helps you better understand viral marketing tactics and how to make them work for you. If you have any questions about viral marketing or would like more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.