Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’
A new policy released today by the Pentagon has reversed multiple bans on social media websites and tools, effective immediately. This policy includes YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Google Apps and other social tools.
Certain branches of the military, such as the U.S. Marines, ban the use of social media because they are a “proven haven for malicious actors and content and are particularly high risk due to information exposure.” Today’s decision, handed down by the Office of Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn, will reverse that ban and others, such as the one the U.S. Army has had on YouTube since 2007.
The new policy is far-reaching, but as NYT’s At War Blog points out, it isn’t without caveats. The change only affects the military’s non-classified Internet network, known as NIPRNET. It also gives commanders at all levels leeway in temporarily banning specific social tools. In other words, you can expect some commanders to reinstate some of these bans for security reasons.
Regardless, we believe that today’s decision is a great step towards bringing families and friends closer to their loved ones overseas. More and more communication takes places over these channels — especially Facebook — and gives parents a chance to see what their son or daughter is up to and vice versa.
Social-media marketing includes participation on social-networking websites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace; video- and photo-sharing websites, including YouTube and Flickr; blogging; microblogging (e.g., Twitter); podcasts; forums; product reviews, such as those on Amazon; and social-bookmarking websites.
Like email marketing, those channels help companies disseminate information to large audiences rapidly and cost-effectively.
Omniture and The CMO Club conducted a Digital Marketing Survey in May of 2009, asking 102 CMOs to rate the relative effectiveness of digital-marketing media. Read the rest of this entry »
Great news story to show the continued efforts the Army is making into Social Media. LTC Tribus worked for me as we were launching Army Strong Stories. He was one of our first bloggers when he deployed to Iraq in June 2008. LTG Freakley was my boss while I was running the marketing program.
A column I was recently reading, by noted coach and businessman Harvey Mackay, contended that trust is the most important word in business. It made the point that people buy from people, not from companies.
I work in the healthcare sector, particularly hospitals and long-term care companies. People would rather not need their services, and it may be years before they need them. Studies seeking to understand how people choose hospitals have found that physician recommendation is usually at the top of the list. But how do people find that physician? Usually through word-of-mouth—from people they trust.
Healthcare entities are large, complex organizations, like most large corporations. How do you start to build trust for such institutions? I would contend that you first need to humanize the large organization that you represent.
As a former CMO for a hospital in NJ, I came into the position with a challenge. The hospital had been for-profit, and its idea of community involvement was none at all. The mentality had been, "We are paying our taxes, so leave us alone." The competition was eating our lunch. And now, as a not-for-profit entity, we were tied at the hip with a sister hospital that faced closing. More than ever we needed to tell our story.
Did we use billboards or fancy advertising? No. Simply, the strategy was to involve our senior team, and all levels of the organization, in the community. Simple things like joining the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, and the like made a big difference. Because the community saw that human beings were behind the stark cold walls of the hospital. In the end, when we had to make hard decisions about closing our sister hospital, the community understood, and most of our patients sought services at the remaining hospital—not our competitors.
To help build trust, start with the following five steps.
1. Be transparent
Do you promote transparency at all levels? This is not just about quality and price transparency but simple things like publishing the email addresses and phone numbers of senior staff so people can contact them directly. CEO blogs, too, promote transparency.
Take a lesson from Paul Levy, president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. His hospital has suffered through some costly medical errors. Though such errors have happened at countless hospitals, they usually are not revealed until the lawsuits start flying. Levy addresses them in his blog, Running a Hospital, warts and all.
In the end, transparency builds trust and confidence, even in the case of situations that might otherwise undermine trust. (See "The See-Through CEO," a great article on CEO transparency, from Wired.)
2. Collect information
I preach a lot about how organizations can leverage word-of-mouth for strategic gain and trust-building. Consider data collection, for example. I mean anecdotal and observational information. What do you really know about the people you call customers?
I experienced an excellent example, first-hand. I had an endoscopy recently. Before I went under, I was talking to the staff about interests and told them I was a singer who still actively performs. One of the staff actively sang as well. When I received a thank-you note from the members of team, they mentioned that little tidbit. It made me feel special. It built trust.
People out there are talking about you. Just ask the community hospital in Paris, Texas. They have a not-so-kind blogger who has a site called the The-Paris-site. How do you react to the blogosphere and establish relations? Appoint someone who scans the Internet regularly and responds and participates in the discussion. Several large organizations have been famously using Twitter to respond directly to customer concerns and complaints. Doing so creates trust.
4. Create community
Harley-Davidson has an annual road rally. I have talked to people who have attended. It is not about Harley as much as it is about bringing people together, stepping out of the way, and letting them talk to each other. In the end, they remember who brought them together. Shouldice Hospital in Canada has this approach down to a science. An annual patient reunion dinner attracts 1,000 people. At one hospital where I was CMO, we staged a Bicycle Safety Day that brought numerous constituents together. I grew tired of it and tried to ditch it. The community rebelled.
Community is also about groups on Linked In, Facebook, and elsewhere online. Let people meet, and then move out of their way. It builds trust.
5. Adopt causes
Adopt causes that are strategic to your services. An orthopedic service line or a long-term care facility might adopt fall prevention as a cause. Sounds counterintuitive... But if you help keep people healthy longer, when something inevitably happens and they need a knee or hip replacement and rehabilitation, who will they look to first? The people who tried to keep them healthy longer, of course. Build trust.
* * *
Trust is key.
So how do you build trust in your own life and as an organization? Trust is built and maintained by many small actions over time, forming tipping points for choice.
Last year, United Airlines found a new way to use Twitter to reward customers and fill empty seats. In May, the Chicago-based airline began offering a limited number of Twitter-exclusive fare deals, or "twares," to domestic and international destinations. The last-minute specials are sent out once or twice a week and typically expire within one or two hours. Most sell out in seconds, a United spokeswoman says.
"We want to give our followers something special that no one else can get," she says, while allowing the airline to fill seats that might otherwise go unoccupied.
Harnessing social media tools to boost sales, connect with customers and increase brand recognition has become standard operating procedure in Corporate America. More than 60% of Fortune 1,000 companies with a Web site will connect to or host some form of online community to build customer relationships, according to Gartner Inc., a Connecticut-based information technology research company. The flip side is that more than 50% will fail, Gartner says, ultimately eroding customer and company values.
The numbers among small businesses are more dire. A recent survey conducted by New York-based GfK Roper Consulting Group found that 76% of small-business owners say social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are not helpful in generating business leads or expanding their operations. Eighty-six percent say they have not used social networking sites to get business advice or information.
That, experts say, is a mistake, because even for those consumer-oriented businesses well-versed in social media, the effort can be surprisingly effective, bringing in unexpected demographics and customer loyalty.
Northfield-based Kraft Foods Inc. launched its iFood Assistant application for iPhone and iPod touch users in November 2008 to help consumers locate Kraft products and prepare meals using them. One year later, the company reports that 22% of iFood Assistant users are men, higher than its traditionally female-heavy demographic, and 99% are first-time users of a Kraft Web site or Web-based tool.
In addition, six months after their initial download, more than 60% of users are still engaged with the application, according to the company. In comparison, some industry experts say that typically less than 5% of users are still involved with a downloadable app after two months. And while they won't release the number of iFood Assistant users, Ed Kaczmarek, Kraft's director of innovation and consumer experiences, says the company hit its three-year projection within the first month of introduction.
"We hit the sweet spot of finding what utility you can provide your consumers and what they consider to be of high value," Mr. Kaczmarek says.
To be sure, legal, privacy and other constraints mean some business segments — financial services and health care among them — may not readily lend themselves to the practice. But even there, social media tools can play a key role in building customer relationships, says Elizabeth Neumaier, creative director at White Gazelle, a Chicago marketing and advertising consultancy.
"Companies can use online tools to create feedback loops and get ideas to improve products or services from customers who are using your brand," she says.
Business owner Jim Schreiber is among those not impressed. He started Shui Tea Co. in September to import and sell 18 types of blended, loose-leaf and pressed tea online. He's been promoting the Lisle-based company on Twitter and Facebook since its launch, with little success. Using Google Analytics to monitor traffic, he found that people coming to his Web site from Twitter and Facebook spent on average only eight seconds on the site. "That's useless to me," Mr. Schreiber, 24, says.
While he's not closing his Twitter account, "I know personal interaction works," he says, so "why not spend my time on that?"
Online marketers say that businesses that haven't hit social media pay dirt may have jumped in without a clear idea of what they're trying to achieve. Others may not give their campaigns enough time to catch on with customers, partners or prospects. That's a mistake: Unless you're a household brand, they say, developing relationships, especially online, takes time.
"You need at least six to 12 months to get people following and participating in a dialogue about your company or your products or services," says Joel Warady, principal of Joel Warady Group, an Evanston marketing consulting firm. "But once they do, they will tell you everything," he says.
Here are some other ways to connect:
Start with a plan. Determine your goals and objectives and what role social media will play in an overall marketing campaign. Then find ways to share content and bring communities together. Market and promote your company's blog, Twitter contacts, fan pages, YouTube channels and any other media to targeted prospects and clients. "It should be strategic vs. ad-hoc," says Ross Kimbarovsky, co-founder of crowdSpring LLC, a Chicago-based online marketplace for creative services, and a social media blogger.
Identify which social media sites your customers are using. Search for your brand name, your competitors' names, key words or industry. On Twitter, tools such as Advanced Search, Twitter Grader and Twellow can help you find people who may be interested in what you have to say. Join Facebook, Flickr or LinkedIn groups relevant to your business and become part of the conversation.
Register your brand name on as many social media sites as possible, whether or not you plan to use them, and use the same name on each. Web sites such as KnowEm.com and UsernameCheck.com will check availability on a large listing of social media sites at no charge.
Don't chase technology. Social media changes rapidly and it's hard to keep up. Don't worry, says Andy Sernovitz, CEO of Chicago-based marketing consultancy GasPedal LLC. "If your customers aren't already there, there's no reason for you to be there," he says. Instead, commit to one or two social-media sites and work on creating regular content. Readers, viewers and search engines will better recognize your expertise if you're consistent. And you can very quickly overextend your capacity by being in too many places and not doing it effectively. "The goal is not to be a technology innovator," says Mr. Sernovitz, author of "Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking." "It's good old-fashioned target marketing. Find your customers and jump in with them."
Determine what you'll say and who will be in charge of saying it, including responding to positive and negative comments. Guidelines should spell out what kind of information employees can and can't share. Make sure you are in compliance with Federal Trade Commission rules that went into effect Dec. 1 and cover testimonials, bloggers and endorsements. (Go to ftc.gov/opa/2009 for more information.)
Generate compelling content. Based on user feedback, the Art Institute of Chicago found its social media followers enjoyed watching behind-the-scenes videos of the new Modern Wing as it was built and of recent exhibitions as they were installed. In November, the museum announced that it was posting its last podcast to shift its focus to video. "Our sense was that the long-lead format of the podcast was not taking advantage of the technology that's out there," says Erin Hogan, the museum's director of public affairs and communications. "We want to focus on shorter pieces and post more of them to places such as ArtBabble, YouTube and Facebook," she says. "People really want that insider's view."
Post regularly and frequently, says Laura Watkins, marketing and communications coordinator for Chicago's Green City Market, a non-profit supporting and promoting local, sustainable agricultural practices. But avoid empty automated tweets or computer-generated messages, even if they seem more efficient. Ms. Watkins says she posts on social media sites including Facebook up to five times a week and often sends Twitter posts five times a day, focusing on topics that appeal to her followers such as trends in sustainable farming or preparing holiday meals with locally grown food. As a result, 15% of visits to the market's Web page come directly from social media outreach. "You're not creating a conversation if you're staying silent," she says.
Hold the sales pitch. The goal is to foster conversation, not push products. "It's not that people don't want to buy; people don't want to be sold," says Kevin Masi, principal at Torque Ltd., a marketing, design and advertising agency in Chicago.
Recognize that social media has changed the nature of customer communication. "The dialogue sometimes is critical and you have to be prepared for that," says Jim Andrews, senior vice-president and editorial director at IEG LLC, a corporate sponsorship and consulting firm based in Chicago. "But if you're going to play this game, that's part of it."
So let’s take a look at some real world social media policies and guidelines as used by companies. Zappos does a great job of summing it up in seven words, but the detail is also important and there are some fine suggestions here…
Don’t pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don’t alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.
Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective. IBM’s brand is best represented by its people and what you publish may reflect on IBM’s brand.
Speak in the first person. Use your own voice. Bring your own personality to the forefront. Say what is on your mind.
With conversations, participate online. Don’t “broadcast” messages to users.
With moderation, only police where we have to. Trust our users where we don’t.
Tone of voice. We should be sensitive to the expectations of existing users of the specific site. If we add a BBC presence, we are joining their site rather than the opposite. Users are likely to feel that they already have a significant stake in it. When adding an informal BBC presence, we should “go with the grain” and be sensitive to user customs and conventions to avoid giving the impression that the BBC is imposing itself on them and their space.
Always pause and think before posting. That said, reply to comments in a timely manner, when a response is appropriate. But if it gives you pause, pause. If you’re about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don’t shrug it off and hit ‘send.’ Take a minute to review these guidelines and try to figure out what’s bothering you, then fix it. If you’re still unsure, you might want to discuss it with your manager or legal representative. Ultimately, what you publish is yours – as is the responsibility. So be sure.
Perception is reality. In online social networks, the lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred. Just by identifying yourself as an Intel employee, you are creating perceptions about your expertise and about Intel by our shareholders, customers, and the general public-and perceptions about you by your colleagues and managers. Do us all proud. Be sure that all content associated with you is consistent with your work and with Intel’s values and professional standards.
It’s a conversation. Talk to your readers like you would talk to real people in professional situations. In other words, avoid overly pedantic or “composed” language. Don’t be afraid to bring in your own personality and say what’s on your mind. Consider content that’s open-ended and invites response. Encourage comments. You can also broaden the conversation by citing others who are blogging about the same topic and allowing your content to be shared or syndicated.
Be external. You don’t have to be 100% internally focused. Link to other blogs, videos, and news articles. Retweet what others have to say.
Post frequently. It’s a lot of work but don’t post to your blog then leave it for two weeks. Readers won’t have a reason to follow you on Twitter or check your blog if they can’t expect new content regularly.
Be careful when sharing information about yourself or others.
Separate opinions from facts, and make sure your audience can see the difference.
Be engaged and be informed. Read the contributions of others. Know what the current conversations are and what people are saying in order to see if, and how, you may be able to contribute a new perspective. Participation is the fuel of social computing.
Aim for quality, not quantity. Offer your contribution with context whenever you can. Provide links to other blogs, media articles or whatever sources you think are necessary. Make your content rich and interesting for others to read. Consider attaching documents when necessary (but not SAP internal documents, confidential or not, of course!). And in every case, keep the language simple and flowing. If you start a blog, encourage feedback and conversation – make sure your readers can add feedback to your blog and respond in a timely manner. A two-way communication exchange allows for a more meaningful conversation.
Be real and use your best judgement.
You might be familiar with social media, but hopefully you’ll give me a pass as some of this stuff bears repeating. However I think this A-Z is going to be more useful if you’re somebody who is trying to convince your boss that adopting a social media strategy is a good idea (it is). Good luck with that!
Note that I’ve avoided writing D is for Digg, F is for Facebook, T is for Twitter. Instead I’ve looked at the more strategic areas that you’ll need to consider before giving the likes of Facebook and Twitter a green light.
Let me know what I missed. Especially for ‘X’!
The A-Z of social media for brands
A stands for AUTHENTIC. Most people, apart from some notable PR execs, have a finely-tuned bullshit radar. They can smell it coming and many are allergic to it. You must be authentic. No funny business, no hidden clauses, nothing untoward.
B stands for BENCHMARK. You need to take a snapshop of where you’re at, before fully launching yourself into social media. Otherwise you’ll have no clue about ROI. A benchmarking exercise can help you define a social media strategy. Find the gaps, and figure out what you need to do. Use our social media templates to help you.
C stands for CUSTOMER SERVICE. You’d better believe it. The problem most wayward greedheads make with social media is that they think it’s all about free marketing. It isn’t. It is about service. I’ll come onto Zappos later but I love their mantra: “We are a customer service company that happens to be in the business of selling shoes.” Smart. Zappos generates three quarters of its $1bn annual sales from existing customers. Go figure, as they say…
D stands for DISTRIBUTE. Why? Because social media should not be ‘owned’ by one person, but spread throughout an organisation. Your people are your best asset, truly. They’re closer to your products, brands, customers and issues. Encourage them to get involved, and share the workload.
E stands for ENGAGE. We know that an engaged customer is a far more valuable one. They’ll tell you what you need to know. They’ll tend to buy from you again, and more frequently. And they’ll be more likely to refer your brand to their friends. Customer engagement and social media go hand in hand.
F stands for FEEDS. You can use feeds to power your social media presence, as we do on Twitter (which sucks in headlines from our blog via Twitterfeed). You should also use them to monitor your key brand terms online.
G stands for GOOGLEJUICE. Some people aren’t sure about the effects of social media on search. They doubt social media can have any tangible effect on search results. Take it from me: they’re wrong. Why? Because articles featured prominently on social media sites are likely to be picked up elsewhere (good for traffic, great for inbound links). Consider what happens when one of your stories hits the Digg frontpage: sure, you pull in big traffic from Digg itself, but you also tend to accumulate links from dozens of other sites.
H stands for HONESTY. This follows on from A. No pulling the wool please. The days of old school PR spin are coming to a close, and if you’re active on these networks then it’s best to hold up your hands and admit errors or lapse of judgement, as and when they arise. It happens. We’re HUMAN, after all.
I stands for INTERACT. Well what else was it going to be? If you try firing out one-way messages on the social media sites then you’ll soon know about it. You must get involved with your audience, your community, your user base, your fans. Make sure they know they’re being listened to, and they’ll participate more often. The flipside is that if you IGNORE them they will pay little interest / take it personally / move on.
J stands for JOIN. There’s no point standing on the sidelines, and hey, you need those social media profiles, even if you’re not immediately planning on using them. Take the lead. Sign up. And make sure you do plenty of reading and research before you jump in. Line up your ducks, then start shooting. There are tools than can help you check whether your brand names are available on the social sites.
K stands for KILLER CONTENT. If there’s one thing that works, it is quality content. Cream rises to the top. Five years ago it was all about Google, but now it’s about recommendations, referrals and retweets (all of which can underpin your Google rankings). Make the most of it. Content remains king.
L stands for LISTEN. As mentioned in F you need some feeds set up to track what’s being said about your brands online. There are various free tools to let you monitor your reputation, the needs of your customers, and what’s being said about your competitors. You also need to listen to people at an individual level, and to respond to them. Social sites help people to cosy up to your brand, and if you’re actively encouraging that (by being there) then it’s best not to kick them out of bed when they want some attention.
M stands for MEASURE. Because how else are you going to know if this whole social media malarkey works. I wrote a post called ’10 ways to measure social media success’, which will help you see the bigger picture. Measuring the detail is one thing, but it is worth considering how a social media strategy can improve your overall business at a macro level.
N stands for NETWORK. Let’s step back for a moment and remember that sites like Twitter and Digg are essentially networking sites. People are connected. This means that you can wade into the fray and seek out followers by participating in a wider conversation. Or by being retweeted. Or by actively following interesting people who say interesting things. It also means that if you get it wrong, the network effect can massively multiply your embarrassment, regardless of whether or not you’re active on these sites. Keep this in mind before you do a Ryanair.
O stands for ORGANIZE. This is about defining a strategy, and then figuring out who is going to execute it. And if you look again at D and then at R you’ll see that I don’t really believe in a single social media stakeholder. It’s a team game. At Econsultancy we encourage people to get involved if they want to. There is no social media dictator at this end.
P stands for POLICY. It could have been PARTICIPATION but that’s kind of covered under the letter E and I. So look, if you’re going to do this in a smart way then it’s best to set a few guidelines. Not rules, as such, but helpful pointers. And look at Z if you want to see the best, most concise social media / Twitter policy you’ll ever need to see.
Q stands for QUESTIONS. You can expect a bunch of them, and the bigger the brand the more questions people are going to throw at you. If they want to choose Twitter as a makeshift customer service channel then doesn’t that tell you something? Twitter might not be the best way of responding, but make sure you are LISTENING and react quickly. Questions need answers!
R stands for RETENTION. Here’s a tip for you: forget about customer acquisition, and start concentrating on your existing customers. They’re cheaper to keep hold of, and if you get it right they’ll do your marketing for you (see E). Seriously, FORGET ACQUISITION. Times are changing, and the smarter operators will be focused on keeping customers happy. And that brings us neatly onto…
S stands for SATISFACTION. Mick Jagger once sang about this and was obviously referring to customer satisfaction. It’s so important. If you don’t already measure customer satisfaction then you’d better start soon, because it’s one of the most important metrics and you should be on a constant quest to improve it. Social media can really help you keep on top of things, and can help you connect. I refer once again to the letter C, and the value of happy customers to your business.
T stands for TRAFFIC. Social media sites now account for a large chunk of our traffic. The Telegraph pulls in 75,000 unique users from these sites every day. If traffic is your thing, then a solid social media strategy will help you attract in the big numbers. T could also stand for TWITTER, since Twitter is obviously a big deal these days. If you’re new to Twitter start here, and if you’re doing it on behalf of a brand / company then aim here.
U stands for USER PROFILE. The last time I looked the world’s biggest FMCG brand was Coca Cola. And you’d imagine that such a heavyweight would have claimed user profiles on various social media sites for its key brands. Well, you’d be wrong. Make sure somebody claims these for your brand. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
V stands for VIP. By getting nearer to your customers / prospects / audience you’re going to make them feel special. Most organisations are still light years away from treating customers as individual people, but social media – and a distributed social media / customer service team – can help you to do this. Remember also to add VALUE, whether that’s sharing tips / insight as we try to do, or providing a 15% discount voucher, as a retailer might do.
W stands for WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. Because look, if you don’t, then what on earth do you expect to get from all of this? I believe that pretty much every company / brand should have a blog, with frequent updates (about their products, services, company, market, etc). These articles can provide you with lots of excellent social media fodder. Spread the word.
X stands for X RATED. To be honest X is a difficult one. But then I remembered that not everybody likes to read the word ‘fuckface’ on Twitter, much less your straight-up 68-year old CEO with churchgoing tendencies. I swear like a trooper but tend to keep the language on these sites to a minimum, especially when representing the brand. Ok, maybe you can suggest something better for the letter X.
Y stands for YOU. The minute you start freaking out about brand language and tone of voice and what the PR department might think is the minute you fail at social media. Sure, that stuff IS important, but the main thing to remember about social media is that it is a highly personal medium. As such you need to communicate, as much as possible, as a PERSON rather than as a BRAND. People form relationships with other people, as opposed to brands, which they have opinions of, and an affinity with (or otherwise). There’s a real distinction.
Z stands for ZAPPOS. The online shoe retailer is a Twitter posterboy, no two ways about it. It encourages staff to get involved with Twitter (it also uses Facebook and YouTube) and has the best Twitter policy I have yet seen: “Be real and use your best judgement.”
So can you create a viral video?
Read the article at the bottom of the page for more on “viral.
Hint: It’s Not Because I Got a Press Release for It
Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship can relate to these situations, although there surely will be some people (men) left wondering: “But what’s so bad about giving a vacuum as an anniversary gift?”
The Doghouse came to me from women friends, it came in a direct message on Twitter and more than one male friend sent it with the note, “I know you’ll love this.” And that, in a nutshell, is what makes a viral. One friend saying to another: “I know you’ll get a kick out of this, relate to this, etc.”
I actually was interested in seeing whose ad it was and what they were selling. That’s not something that happens every day. But I certainly never expected JCPenney Jewelry to be the creator — or to be so hip. Bravo!
I even got “Doghouse Rolled” this morning on Twitter by my pal Albert Maruggi.
Potential problem: The Doghouse, which is how people will look this video up on Google, is already the name of lots of other sites. I betcha at least one is porn.
Note to agencies — none of the e-mails from friends and acquaintances had the subject line “New viral campaign launches next week.”
Dear social media gurus, advertising agencies and PR flacks: You need to read this post.
I got three e-mail pitches yesterday about new viral-marketing campaigns. One was from an agency that said it “provides complete viral services.” Another was for a “brand-new IBM (Lotus Foundations) viral video campaign” that will launch on Monday. (Hint: a campaign that has not launched yet is not viral.) And the third was from a friend, who saw something she thought I’d love and forwarded me a link.
Guess which one was actually a viral? Apparently most agencies can’t.
First let’s define viral marketing:
Content passed from one person to another, including images, videos, links, applications, games, stories, e-mails, documents or virtually any other type of digital content that one person passes to another via e-mail, IM, text messaging, or social network like Twitter, FriendFeed, etc., or content-sharing sites such as StumbleUpon, Digg, etc.
What doesn’t make a campaign go viral:
- Sending out a press release about your latest viral campaign
- An e-mail that says, “This is a viral campaign.”
What kind of creative is likely to go viral?
- Knockout creative that’s funny, shocking, intriguing or surprising
- An idea customers can relate to and care about
- A clear-cut message so people are able to pass it on with one sentence
- An easy way to pass it on — a link, embedding code, “share this” button, e-mail to a friend, etc.
- A concept that builds relationships with customers by getting them to interact with others
- Measurable outcomes, as in: What is this campaign hoping to accomplish and how will be measure it?
What can help spread the word?
- Blog advertising with the right creative can be remarkably cost-effective and high yielding.
- Blogger outreach (which can backfire if pitches are lame)
- A seeding plan to get the campaign started:
- JibJab, for example, e-mails to tens of thousands of people who’ve asked to be notified of its latest efforts. One of the all-time most successful virals, launched in 2006, is ElfYourself, which OfficeMax created with Toy and EVB. But this year, OfficeMax has partnered with JibJab. It’s great because it’s about us, not a blatant sales effort. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s easy to use, and it’s easy to send.
In 2007, ElfYourself.com was the No. 1 holiday e-greeting website, surpassing AmericanGreetings.com and Hallmark.com, and secured more traffic than Facebook.com, according to OfficeMax. In 2007, in six weeks, it attracted 193 million visits with users spending 2,600 years collectively on the site. In fact, one in 10 Americans “elfed themselves” in 2007.
ElfYourself is back and — aside from taking what feels like forever to upload your photos — it’s even better in 2008 with several new dances and features including:
- A Facebook application that enables users to place elf videos on profile pages and invite friends to do the same
- “Quick Post” options to place ElfYourself videos on MySpace, Friendster, BeBo, Live Journal, iGoogle, etc.
- The ability to create print greeting cards featuring custom elves
- Tools to customize photo gift items — snowflake ornaments, mouse pads, coffee mugs or playing cards
- Downloadable elf videos that can be saved to desktop
- Profiles where users can save elves and videos for future “elfing.”
Remember, social-media gurus, advertising agencies and PR flacks:
It ain’t viral til it is.
So please please don’t send me another pitch that includes the words “new viral” in the subject line.
I joined Facebook today. I have heard a great deal about it but have decided to invest some time to look at its potential for our marketing program. We have had a FB page for the X-box game (The Army Gaming Experience) and it has very few friends. I want to figure out why this is doing so poorly when we have around 90K friends on MySpace which I believe has seen its day.