Archive for the ‘Viral Marketing’ Category

How to Craft a Viral Campaign in 3 Steps

October 21st, 2014

In 2012, only half of Americans knew of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after one of its most famous victims. The ALS Association, a nonprofit committed to raise money for research and patient services, raised a combined total of $19.4 million for that year.

Fast forward to today, and the ALS has raised over $100 million this year alone, most of which has been raised in the two month period of July and August.

As many of us know, it’s all due to one viral campaign: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge, in which one records dumping ice water on themselves or donates to the ALS Association, has been shared over 1.2 million times on Facebook and 2.2 million times on Twitter.

The campaign was so successful that critics started to worry about how the challenge would affect counties under severe drought watches.

Why did this campaign, out of all the others floating around on the Internet, go viral?

There’s not a lot we have control over when it comes to the “viralocity” of an image, video or idea. However, according to Malcom Gladwell, there are three elements that increase the probability:


The law of the few (Know who to target)

Malcolm Gladwell states in The Tipping Point, “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.”

Gladwell calls these movers and shakers of the internet realm “connectors.” These are people with the extraordinary gift for making friends and acquaintances. They have a multitude of followers on social networks, and when they mention something on Facebook, it is immediately shared 100 times.

These connectors can be people, a website or a news organization. People want to be connectors.

While in today’s society a connector can translate their social network directly into money or political power, most people simply want the rush they feel when their idea or link is liked or retweeted. A good idea in the hands of a few can spread like wild fire.


The stickiness factor (Good content)

The two reasons the ALS Ice Bucket challenge succeeded was because it was for a good cause, and it was easily repeatable. At the end of their individual challenge, the participant then had to challenge three of their friends to replicate them. As the campaign gained momentum, it even grew to include big-name celebrities, such as Oprah, Bill Gates and Steven Spielberg, taking the plunge.

The stickiness factor correlates to your core content, cause or campaign. Is it well thought out? Is it for a good cause? Will it make a difference in someone’s life? More importantly, is it memorable? The more memorable the campaign, the higher the stickiness factor, and the faster it spreads.

Read more…

PURL Jam: 6 ways personalized URLS can help increase the virality of your campaigns

April 12th, 2012

Virality is that state of marketing nirvana where your campaigns are liberated from the earthly confines of your own media spends and marketing efforts, and take on a free-floating life of their own.

As I’ve said before in “Social Media Marketing: Going viral is so easy it’s hard,” I don’t believe there is any secret to going viral, but you can position yourself well for that opportunity. That blog post has a few of the factors that influence your chance of going viral, but in today’s post I want to focus on one very specific tool that can help your efforts — personalized URLs, also known as PURLs.

If you’re unfamiliar with PURLs, personalized URLs are simply, as the name implies, unique URLs for each recipient. As with many marketing terms, different people tend to use the term differently (usually to the advantage of whatever they’re selling). Some people consider a PURL actually having the person’s name in the URL (for example, I might receive a mailer with a CTA that goes to, while my neighbor’s CTA would point to

Others consider a PURL to be any URL that leads to a personalized landing page (so the URL might be a random string of letters and numbers; however, the landing page would say “Hello Daniel Burstein”). And still others consider a PURL to be any custom URL assigned to only one person (for the purpose of this blog post, I’ll use this, the broadest definition).

Who can use PURLS? Pretty much any marketer. “Historically, the high cost of PURLs would limit the technology to larger companies with the matching budgets,” according to Martin Thomas, founder, Purlem. “But today, PURLs have become much more affordable and easier to use.”

Now that we’ve gotten in a little background info, let’s take a look at some ways PURLs can help position your campaigns for virality:

  Read more…

6 Tactics for Increasing Site Traffic and Improving Content

September 2nd, 2011

increase site trafficWhether you’re an experienced marketer or just getting started, chances are that you’ve probably heard the phrase “Content is King” more than a few times. And for good reason, engaging content plays a vital role in driving site traffic, creating buzz online and improving search engine rankings.

However, I would add that people aren’t just looking for content, they’re looking for value.

This became more evident to me recently.  As a soon-to-be father, I was tasked by my wife to research car seats brands and safety for our son. I can’t tell you how many web sites over the past couple of weeks I’ve found that were just completely useless and were written like a sales page or ad that went on and on about the product.

Just like watching your favorite TV show that abruptly goes to an unwanted commercial break, I would quickly hit the back button and exit these pages.

On the other hand, I visited a relatively few that had personal stories from consumers including research and insights on how to make a good buying decision. Guess which ones I forwarded on to my preggo wife and key purchase decision maker? You guessed it.

This got me thinking, on a marketing level. “Is our content inviting to look at, memorable or fun to read?” If not, then we are missing out on a key opportunity to provide real value to our audience. And chances are they found what they wanted elsewhere.

A few weeks ago my boss, Todd Lebo, and I were invited to speak at the Florida Magazine Association Conference and Expo in Orlando. Even though the audience was primarily publishers, they asked us to speak on SEO marketing and how to leverage content for maximum results.

It was evident early on in the presentation that those in attendance weren’t experienced marketers, but they did understand how search marketing could help them bridge the gap between content they already had and an audience eager for value.

Highlighted below are just 6 of the many tactics we discussed for increasing site traffic and improving the value in your content: Read more…

Powerful Viral Video from Old Spice

July 16th, 2010

Old Spice wrapped up a phenomenal viral marketing campaign this week that significantly leveraged social media channels, just as MarketingSherpa published our 2010 Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame.

What started as a funny Super Bowl Ad featuring a spokesman with an over-the-top ego and a penchant for manly nonsense turned into millions of views on YouTube this winter. The agency behind the ad, Wieden+Kennedy, followed up with additional videos, but the effort didn’t stop there.

For two days this week, the agency posted dozens of video responses to comments on Old Spice’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter profiles. Every response is a unique, hilarious video of the Old Spice spokesman, actor Isaiah Mustafa, standing in a towel in front of a shower.

The videos are steeped in the same humor as the initial ads — supplying dozens of additional videos to an audience that expressed a strong craving for them. They also gave the campaign an exciting, real-time creative edge by directly interacting with the audience and quickly churning out videos.

To further the campaign’s reach, the team posted video responses to celebrities and other folks with major online followings, including:
o Perez Hilton — celebrity gossip blogger
o George Stephanopoulos — ABC News journalist
o Gizmodo — technology blog
o Alyssa Milano — American actress
o Kevin Rose — founder of Digg and other startups

Responding to these gatekeepers with personalized, high-profile and hilarious videos proved flattering enough to earn mentions in their respective media outlets. This brought the campaign to new audiences, further building the viral snowball.

Iain Tait, Global Interactive Creative Director, Wieden+Kennedy, told Kai Ryssdal on American Public Media’s Marketplace that the effort “certainly makes people kind of consider Old Spice in a new light again. And that has certainly been brought out in some of the conversations that we’re seeing online.”

With such a stunning viral success, where does the campaign go from here?

UPDATE 7/28: The campaign is proving to be a smashing success. Nielsen reports sales of Old Spice Body Wash increased 107% over the past month and 55% over the last three months, according to Brandweek.

Final Week for Entries: Sherpa’s Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame

June 15th, 2010

Just wanted to post a quick reminder that the deadline is fast approaching for entries to MarketingSherpa’s 2010 Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame.

You have until Friday, June 18, at 5:00 p.m. EST to enter your best-performing social media or viral marketing campaign for this year’s honors.

Enter your campaign details here

Here are a few pointers to help you with your entry:

– There is no entry fee for this program. You can submit as many campaigns as you like, as long as they used social media or audience participation to achieve strong results.

– Campaigns from 2009 or 2010 are accepted, as long as they were not entered for the 2009 Viral Hall of Fame last summer.

– Results are paramount. We’re looking for campaigns that achieved a significant business result, such as leads or revenue generated. Having millions of views isn’t too impressive in and of itself, unless you can prove that you reached the right people and encouraged them to take some action that achieved the business goal behind the campaign.

– Innovation gets attention. We’re looking for campaign tactics and creative approaches that the marketing community hasn’t seen before.

So gather up your results and creative samples and wow us with your tales of using of social media or viral marketing to record big marketing wins. The honorees will be featured in a special report later this summer that lays out all the details of the campaign approach, measurement tactics employed, results achieved and lessons learned.

Here’s the link again:

Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame Entry Form
(Deadline: June 18, 2010)

Thanks, and good luck!

Twitter’s Social Search Ads

April 14th, 2010

Marketers wanting to be heard over the over the rabble in social media may soon have a new tool to capture more attention. On Tuesday, Twitter announced the launch of its first ever advertising program, Promoted Tweets.

The micro-blogging network will show promoted tweets at the top of some search results pages, essentially making the tweets a form of paid search advertising. The tweets look and act as normal tweets, but are clearly labeled as promoted by an advertiser.

This “first phase” of the ad platform is only open to a handful of advertisers, such as Best Buy and Starbucks, and is helping Twitter “get a better understanding of the resonance of Promoted Tweets, user experience and advertiser value,” according to the announcement’s blog post (linked above).

I personally assume a self-service, keyword-targeting ad platform will eventually be offered to a broad range of advertisers–but time will tell. For now, Twitter says they hope to later expand Promoted Tweets beyond their search tool, bring them to other partners’ spaces and into Twitter users’ tweet timelines.

This is yet another case of social media and search engine marketing finding common ground, this time in the area of paid search. Yesterday, we published part one of our two-part social media and SEO special report, which outlined five key trends in social and SEO marketing integration. Stay tuned for part two next week which will feature specific tactics.

Hopefully this announcement will be the first of many which help Twitter grow as a powerful marketing channel. My head is already spinning with different ways sponsored tweets can be tested to increase clickthrough rates and response.

What does this announcement mean to you? What else do you think is on the way?

Give Email Subscribers the Opportunity To Belong

March 9th, 2009

Dan Heimbrock, President and CEO, HyperDrive Interactive, had so many great examples to share about how word-of-mouth and email marketing can work together to create brand advocates that I couldn’t help sharing one.

Heimbrock is presenting a case study at MarketingSherpa’s 2009 Email Marketing Summit, March 15-17, and I had the opportunity to interview him last week about the topic.

He says often the only incentive that people need to become brand advocates is an opportunity to belong to something they care about.

Read more…

List of Tweeting Brands May Push You off Fence

January 22nd, 2009

More marketers are testing the world of Twitter and shaping their strategies. Last week we reported how a unique discount retail site, Woot, is using Twitter to promote products.

Then I came across the mother of all lists of brands on Twitter. The list has more than 200 links to feeds run by fast food companies, manufacturers, hoteliers, eretailers, airlines, publishers and many more. The companies are as large as GM and as small as online startups.

Read more…

Social Media Strategies: Digg for Instant Gratification, YouTube for Longevity

December 23rd, 2008

The team at HP Labs’ Social Computing Lab recently released a study that analyzes Digg and YouTube submissions to determine the best time of day to post a link to Digg’s social bookmarking site to maximize exposure and popularity.

The complete report contains lots of formulas and charts for analytics experts to chew on. But we saw a quick takeaway for any publisher looking to use the two sites to promote their content, drive traffic or boost search engine visibility:

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Three Conclusions From AMC, Mad Men/Twitter Flap

December 15th, 2008

I am a huge fan of the AMC television series Mad Men — a drama about the ad men and women of Madison Avenue in the 1960s. That’s why a blog post about the shutdown of Mad Men Twitter feeds caught my eye.

Apparently, fans were posing as Mad Men characters, creating Twitter profiles for them, and posting regular Twitter updates. AMC asked Twitter to shut down the feeds, which angered fans. Read more…