RECENTLY, a local radio station pulled off a prank that involved inviting a much-talked-about beauty queen to join a DJ team to host programmes.
The results were amazing. The radio station’s Facebook site was bombarded with listeners expressing their dissatisfaction with the programme.
On April Fool’s Day, it was revealed that the prank was sponsored by a fast-food chain to draw attention to the launch of their new burger. The chain followed up with a goodwill offer of the burger at just $1, leading to queues outside the chain’s outlets.
Going by the storm that it created, the publicity stunt was an overwhelming success. It provides an appropriate backdrop to illustrate the key elements necessary for the success of a viral marketing campaign.
To integrate viral marketing into your online marketing strategy, you must look out for activities or stories that could interest the masses.
You should capitalise on the tendency of people to be fascinated by quirky things and the urge to share their discovery with others.
For inspiration, take a look at your local newspapers and observe the type of news and pictures that qualify for the human-interest columns.
Concepts that use humour, create controversy or simply provide lists/rankings such as the top 5 Must-Have iPhone Apps and even Top 5 Restaurants among others, tend to capture attention.
Having garnered the attention of the few who may have come across your viral marketing campaign, the key challenge is to motivate them to spread the word or, in most cases, a video clip.
The offer of incentives can be useful. By providing prizes or by giving away premiums, your target audience would want to tell others about your campaign in anticipation of the reward that awaits them.
You must also ensure that there is a site where the target audience can express its views. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter; video-sharing sites such as YouTube; and electronic gadgetry such as iPods and mobile phones make it all the more convenient for users to be wired to the world.
Creating a site on flickr, Twitter or Facebook are all avenues to encourage and monitor traffic about interest being generated about your viral marketing campaign.
The next step is to see how these factors for an effective viral marketing campaign have been incorporated in another local campaign.
Matthew “Matt” Harding, an American video game designer, shot to fame with his videos which showed him performing a dance with famous landmarks all over the world as his backdrops.
What started as a unique way of keeping his friends updated about the countries he had visited turned into a lucrative advertising programme with Visa, which embarked on a global marketing campaign.
The numerous television appearances have also brought Mr Harding much fame, which explains why he gets hits in the millions when he puts up a video. Recently, the Singapore Tourism Board harnessed his fame in its YourSingapore campaign.
The campaign was launched with a mass flash dance led by Mr Harding in New York, a city with a high concentration of international media.
The viral effect kicks in when the public captures its own dances during the launch on video and uploads them on YouTube. The motivation comes in the form of an all-expenses-paid holiday for two to Singapore. Both the dancer and the voter have a chance to win a prize.
The power of the Internet is there to be seized. Marketers have in their grasp an inexpensive tool to create brand awareness by hitching on the urge of Internet users to inform their friends all over the world about something unique that they have chanced upon.
So pervasive is the impact of viral marketing that search engine and web portal Lycos has made available a Viral Chart at viral.lycos.co.uk that tracks the popularity of videos and clips that are currently doing the rounds. Viewers get to vote for their favourite video in the funniest, sexiest or other such categories.
In this way, it is possible to track and monitor the viral marketing progress online. It provides an opportunity to learn from feedback and to create more innovative marketing themes.
So, why wait? A carefully choreographed viral marketing campaign delivers numbers that go beyond the target group by exploiting the culture of sharing which generates an astonishing amount of e-mail traffic that transcends borders. As the numbers increase, so does brand awareness.
Article by Maler Vilee, senior consultant with Training Edge International. She trains local and overseas senior management on technology acquisition strategies. Formerly an assistant director with International Enterprise Singapore, she has years of experience in web-based development and portal-related initiatives. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.trainingedgeasia.com