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December 22, 2008

Viral marketing successes

by Josh Bernoff

As usual, Seth Godin has crystallized an idea more briefly and powerfully than the rest of us. Read what he says about viral marketing, and take it to heart. From his blog post:

Something being viral is not, in an of itself, viral marketing. Who cares that 32,000,000 people saw your stupid video? It didn't market you or your business in a tangible, useful way.

Marketers are obsessed with free media, and, as is often the case, we blow it in our rush to get our share. We create content that is hampered or selfish or boring. Or we create something completely viral that doesn't do any marketing at all.

I've pointed out that viral "campaigns" that work have to balance the desire for people to spread them with the value to the brand. Here's one that's likely to work -- but you do have to work a little to get to the brand (did you figure out who did it?). Good, but not that perfect balance. Still, 400,000 views later, a fine viral campaign. Here's what I said before about video, which is a fine watchword for anything viral.

When it comes to viral video, you need to make sure 1) you create something people will spread and 2) that the video carries a payload -- a message about your product. Fail on point 1 and your video won't spread. Fail on point 2 and you'll be a hit -- but it won't help your company. It's a very difficult balance. Blendtec hits it brilliantly, as does Greg the Architect. Very few others have.

From the Forrester Groundswell awards, here are a few others that worked well:

None of these embody Seth's principle that the best apps have viral built right into them. But we can't all create Facebook. Hit the right balance between spreadable fun for the visitors and value for your brand and you can still succeed. It's not easy, but it's worth it.


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seth godin

Well said, and great examples!

Jill Anderson

Seth rocks.....and thank you for the great examples, Josh.

viral marketing agency

In this time and age, "the internet-generation era," people utilize viral marketing the most. The successful posting of a video on Youtube or a high rank webpage would draw in millions of viewers daily. That type of advertisement would not be possible prior to viral marketing.

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