Viral Marketing

At Saturday’s BarCamp Alec Saunders who heads Iotum, a telephony presence start-up that seeing impressive up take of its product “Talk Now” spent some time sharing how he built that.

Viral marketing can drive exponential growth which makes it an attractive strategy. Alec outlines 6 factors that make good viral candidates. These principals apply to any viral marketing – from products to ads and offers.

1. The product / service has to have a “free component”.  The whole offering doesn’t need to be free – but there has to be enough value that the so that people want to forward it to others.
2. There must be an effortless way to transfer this to others. Alec gave the example of the “get a free Hotmail account” that was attached to every email sent through Hotmail as an example.
3. Scale easily form small to large. This is critical – as a good viral campaign can lead to massive spikes in volume and if you’re not ready that planning will be for naught.
4. Exploit common motivations and behaviors. In Iotums’ case this is the desire to connect with specific people – but it equally applies to social and demographic characteristics – as the Dove  “How did beauty get so distorted campaign” illustrates (I understand this promotion was watched more that many Superbowl ads)
5. Utilize existing Communication Networks – Ideally within the channel that the core distribution is occurring in as Hotmail’s email connection Iotums’ voice network demonstrate. The Dove campaign is different in that it was designed to work across multiple networks for awareness – and it’s this power to link the message to multiple channels that likely account for the 7.9M search links – many of them hosting or linking to images of this video.
6. Take advantage of others resources – their time, networks, reputations etc.

It’s important to know that one doesn’t need to be perfect in all of these to have a successful campaign – and that a successful campaign can be made more so by a little traditional promotion.

Increasingly it is these types of campaigns and will be used because they allow the company a low cost and undistorted view of the stickiness of their product or promotion – especially early on in the campaign. As well it is possible to quantify many of these measures making it possible to use a variety on metrics to improve the distribution throughout the campaign.

The slides for the presentation are available here