Four weeks about I launched a viral campaign to help raise money for a home for AIDS-orphaned children in Africa. The concept is like an online walkathon. You click... the sponsors donate to this orphanage. No donation required, no registration, no strings attached.
Seemed like a good concept, but with this being my first attempt at viral marketing I made a lot of mistakes and it hasnít been as successful as I had hoped so far. (Too bad since itís a great cause). So, I thought I'd share some things I learned along the way...
Viral marketing is like a fat midget with a wig on a unicycle. With all due respect to little people and carnival workers, if you can get people to look, thatís half the battle.
Viral marketing is like free iPod spam. Most people assume itís too good to be true so they donít even bother to check it out. We learned some people would not go to the site and click the link because they thought either it would cost them something or they would have to give out personal information.
Viral marketing is like Sanjayaís hair. Sometimes things are popular because they stand out not because theyíre good.
Viral marketing is like a shampoo commercial. ďYou never get a second chance to make a first impression.Ē If you screw up the launch you put a huge dent in the chances the viral will ever catch on. Thatís because the people most likely to be your biggest evangelists are the people you know personally and contact first. If your viral is confusing at the launch (as mine was) or lame or has broken links, itís not likely you can get those people to enthusiastically spread the word even after youíve fixed those things.
Viral marketing is like a bad haircut. Get a great new do and people will compliment you. Get a terrible haircut nobody will tell you about it to your face. I found the same is true with viral marketing. Good feedback is easy to come by. But when somethingís not right and things arenít taking off, nobody will tell you why it didnít click with them.
Viral marketing is like cooking burgers on a campfire. Done right you simply light a single match, which ignites the kindling, which gets the big logs burning long and hot enough to cook up a great meal. But if the wood is wet, itís too windy, or you donít use enough kindling it the fire goes out and you end up scrambling and scrounging for anything that will get the fire going again just long enough so you donít get food poisoning from eating raw beef. When viral marketing works itís easy and things take off on their own. When it doesnít work you can end up spending a lot of time scrambling to contact new people in the hopes that some of them will get the viral going on its own.
Viral marketing is like running for president. Sometimes itís not what you do but who you know that matters most. If you have relationships with popular bloggers or other people who have a large audience and are willing to mention your viral, that can make all the difference.
Viral marketing is like a caged monkey at the zoo. After a while itís easy to get frustrated and start throwing anything against the wall to see what will stick.
Regardless of the outcome viral marketing can be fun. ;)
So, I'd like to know from you viral marketing veterans, what have you learned through experience about viral marketing? What would you say itís like?