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What do you think of when I say viral?

The is kinda cool

To me, “Viral” mostly conjures up bad feelings right? Computer virus, swine flu, bird flu, epidemic, pandemic.

So what is So good about a ‘viral’ social media marketing campaign? Are you trying to infect healthy people?  or just sell them crap?

Let’s look at some campaigns that worked:

Target Bullseye Gives

Choose your own charity.

Ford fiesta

Ford gave 100 people a car for a while and let them tell everyone about their experience!

Dunkin Doughnuts

Free stuff - sustenance, prizes and notoriety!


You have to think ‘What is the intention of you marketing campaign?’ Is it just to sell stuff or is there some ‘good’ in it?  Your campaigns will actually be successful if you’re:

  • Helping out
    • Target’s campaign is for charity
    • Dunkin donuts’ campaign worked as they have away stuff.
  • Providing a voice
    • Ford certainly gave their customers a voice by letting them sprout off about their cars!
  • Connecting people
  • Improving businesses

I was interested to see that Laurel Papworth’s Jan 09 list of cool social media campaigns from Australian organisations. They all ticked the boxes from my list above. It includes The Power House Museum, Aussie Defence Force, non-profits and retailers, plus they also

  • provided stimulation for people’s minds
  • raised people’s level of consciousness by making them think - educating them

If you are not aware of any useful things in your campaign, then it is probably wasting people’s time and not particularly successful or indeed sustainable. In fact under viral marketing on Wikipedia is actually states that ‘The basic form of viral marketing is not infinitely sustainable!’

What a waste!

When I was at the recent iMedia Brand Summit in the Hunter Valley (loved it!) much of the conference covered social media and the ability to access huge numbers of people relatively easily BUT

The reality is that if you are doing it purely for sales or personal gain then you have missed the point. In essence a good campaign needs to add value to people’s lives by offering them something they need, or didn’t know they need, online. In this context it is about helping your customers. Make sure you are honest, well actually authentic is a better word.

Think about the ‘core’ message for your customers. What will give them an ah ha moment. Make them realise something that they had never thought of before, never knew.

Truth is, we all know that if we help someone the rewards come back in many many ways. It’s called Karma.

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8 Responses

  1. You are so right James. In the end it is all about giving and about putting great service before money grabbing. As David Meerman Scott has pointed out, this is not likely to happen unless companies stop thinking in terms of ROI in a narrow sense and ‘lose control’.

  2. Unlike swine flu, there is good viral and bad viral. The viral part is about popularity. Unfortunately, the bad often outshines the good. We humans are like that. Most of us slow down at car wrecks to see what? We’re fascinated by Michael Jackson’s death by overdose - why? I agree with you that we should be putting out useful, positive messages as often as possible. It would sure help to counterbalance all the negative stuff that makes the most news headlines and most popular blogs, and yes it helps when you’re trying to build a loyal following.

  3. UrbanCowboy 13/10/09
  4. Cool article.

  5. Social Media Marketing is really the trend these days. i market most of my products through social networking sites.

  6. Twitter is a powerful tool for your business. It has 620 million users and should not be overlooked as a way of generating marketing leads for your company. The problem is how to get noticed in all the noise these days and there is a lot being said in that noise. To find out how to cut through the noise in your social media marketing visit the link for the best way to get more traffic.

  7. Brain Trust 08/03/11
  8. One of the best social media strategies of late in the same territory as Powerhouse Museum is the Australian Ballet - far greater volume of “likes” with one of the highest number interactions per post.

  9. Thanks for the tip!

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  2. [...] Sick (from) viral social media marketing campaigns? – James Breeze presenta e illustra alcune campagne di viral marketing Ford Fiesta, Dunkin’s Donuts, Target; [...]

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