Viral Marketing Principles: Six Key Rules To Get Everyone To Talk About Your Idea
How can you create something so interesting that people will want to share it? Viral marketing strategy may help you find the answer to this one.
Photo credit: Dmitry Bairachnyi
Viral marketing is a marketing approach allowing a message to seemingly self-propel itself rapidly to an ever growing number of people, just like a real virus would do. David Meerman Scott, author of "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" and of the about-to-be-released "World Wide Rave" books, shares in this video interview with me, his key principles to effective viral marketing.
In general, "viral marketing refers to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses.
It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages. The basic form of viral marketing is not infinitely sustainable."
In other words, viral marketing is a form of promotion based on the free circulation of ideas via a simple word of mouth process. When you like something it is a natural reaction to want to share your discovery with someone you like. Be it friends, relatives, colleagues at work or your boss, most anyone gets a kick out of sharing with someone else something they have just discovered. And in turn, those people we share something with, will do the same with their network of friends. That is what going viral is about.
If you want to market, promote or advertise your product or service in ways that will cost you nothing compared to traditional campaigns, I strongly suggest you watch and listen to the viral marketing advice David has personally shared with me, and which is part of its new cool little book "World Wide Rave".
Here my video interview with David Meerman Scott with a full text transcription:
Viral Marketing Principles
Full English Text Transcription
Robin Good: Hi everyone, this is Robin Good from Rome, Italy, and today I'm connecting with David Meerman in Boston, Massachusetts. Hello David!
David Meerman Scott: Hey Robin, it's great to be here, how are you?
Robin Good: I'm very fine. Particularly so now that I've received your fantastic small copy of this great, little book. I know that you're very excited about your baby, so I don't want to take it away from you.
David Meerman Books
Robin Good: Why don't you say the name of this little thing you sent me, and why you have decided to put that out?
David Meerman Scott: Sure. The book is called "World Wide Rave", and it's about how people share stories, and why people would share your stuff online.
I put this out in a really small package and interesting hard-cover, it doesn't have a dust jacket on it, it has a hardcover on, it's like an old textbook that we would have here in the United States. Inside it's two colors and a glossy kind of paper. Very unique kind of packaging.
So why did I do this unique packaging? Inside there's a lot of drawings, cartoons that my friend who is a cartoonist did. The reason is because I want people to talk about the book and say: "Wow, this book is really interesting, it has got green print inside! Not just black like everybody else is printed".
The book is small, here is a copy, and you can tell from the size that it's small, and the other thing I did which is so cool is that the book cover itself looks like a poster. I've sent copies of the poster to people all over the world and they've sent me photographs of the poster literally on seven continents, including Antarctica. How cool is that?
Robin Good: That's very cool, but why don't you show me the book more slowly, because many people have not really seen it before.
Have it there, and have it next to it your previous bestseller which not many people here know about, but maybe it is a good opportunity if you have it on your desk to shell it out.
David Meerman Scott: All right, here, in between my nose!
"World Wide Rave" is the new book, coming out in March, 2009, and "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" came out in English in June 2007, and "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" is now being published in 22 languages, believe it or not, which is really cool. Every couple of months I get a new copy from a different language, and it's really exciting.
Robin Good: Good, and I hear you're having also Italian coming up.
David Meerman Scott: Italian? yeah, I'm not sure when it's going to be out in Italian, but think in like two or three months.
What The Books Are About
Robin Good: Let's say I'm a viewer of this video today and you just happened to be somebody that feels reliable, interesting, as you've written about marketing and you've got two books out there. Which one is for whom? Are they targeted at different people? Is it one more technical, more PR, and the other more blogging, 2.0? Tell me.
David Meerman Scott: Both are targeted to the same type of people. They're targeted to business owners, entrepreneurs, to anybody who wants to get their information out into the world, using the Web, using Web 2.0 if you want to call it that.
What I identified in my writings, and what I talk around the speaking circuit, is that the old rules of marketing (as I call them) were you had to buy attention from people. You either had to buy advertising, magazine advertisement, advertising in the phonebook, whatever it might be, banner ads...
The other thing I identified is that a lot of people had to beg for attention through mainstream media.
But what the Web allows us to do, which Robin of course you know extremely well, and many of your listeners also know really well... the Web allows us to publish our own information directly.
How interesting is that?
That's what "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" is about. That's what my ideas have been about for a couple of years.
"World Wide Rave" is a little different. It's about how can you create something so interesting that people want to share it. One person to another person to another. Family members sharing with each others, colleagues at work, friends sharing from one to another.
It's a little bit different to create something that's so valuable that people will share it, and I've identified the things that you need to be thinking about to create something that it's so compelling that people will share it.
Robin Good: You've got to share then a little bit of something useful here. You know how you work on the Web today, you got to share something valuable. People believe, trust, start to like you and then they want more from you.
David Meerman Scott: Yeah.
Six Rules For Viral Marketing
Robin Good: Can you give me a little tiny recipe, for example, because there are many viewers here now who have their own blog, their own site, and I thought many times: "How can I build something that people would say: "Wow, I got to tell other people about it!"." How do you get in the state of mind to build something like that?
David Meerman Scott: Great question.
I've identified six different things that you have to do to create something that people will be eager to share with one another.
This doesn't guarantee that they will share, but is the six things that are elements of everything that people do want to share. We've all seen these things. A YouTube video that has one million hits or blog post that everybody has seen it. What they have is six things in common:
1. Nobody Cares About Your Products...
...except for you. Nobody cares about your products, and that' a hard things for people to get around. But it's true. If you write abut your products, people go: "Oh that's boring, I'm going to go on to the next thing".
2. Don't Coerce People to Share
They'll do it because they like it. You don't have to convince them that they should share it, by doing some kind of game or making some kind of contest, or doing something that people will think: "I want to share this because if I do I might win something". No, no coercion is required.
3. Lose Control of Your Information
The third thing is very counter-intuitive to people, and that is that you have to lose control of your information. Once it gets out there into the world, people would share it in the way that they want to, and you don't have any control over that.
You don't have any control over what they will say, and a lot of times, the bosses of the companies, don't like that idea, because they're so used to maintaining this control over their information. Yet, what makes things share is that you have to lose that control and let people share it.
4. Put Down Roots
5. Create a Trigger
The fifth thing is: create a trigger that encourages people to share. Create something that is so compelling and so valuable that people say: "Damn, I need to share it" I call it a trigger.
A trigger could be a YouTube video, a really interesting blog post, it could be a really compelling piece of data.
6. Point The World to Your Virtual Doorstep
If you point people to the place where you provide something that then gets them to either buy your product, or get interested in what you're doing. But ultimately, when you share things, you want to have a way that your readers can get back to the place that you can do business with them. To learn more about you, to read something else about you, buy your product if it's an e-commerce, provide some personal information to get a personal call for you, if you do a business-to-business sort of consulting, or whatever.
Those are the rules. If you follow those rules you're greatly increasing the chance that your thing will spread really far. If you don't follow those rules, it doesn't mean it will never spread, but it will be much more difficult to make it spread.
Robin Good: Fantastic. Thank you for that recipe. I think I couldn't ask for a better gift from you in this session.
David Meerman Scott: Thank you.
Viral Marketing Means Working on Many Ideas
Robin Good: Like my uncle comes from Sherwood, I come from Sharewood, so the guys at my village know very well what you're talking about, and I read inside your tiny, little book how difficult it is to really plan and succeed on systematically wanting to create something viral. It just doesn't happen following a plan.
You really have to work around many different ideas, and maybe some of those will bloom. That's what I got from reading you.
David Meerman Scott: I think of it like the same way that a company will invest in movies. A movie producer doesn't just make one movie, and then expect that it will become a hit movie.
Usually movie producers do five movies, or ten movies. The same thing with their record studio and music, and the same thing with a venture capital firm and how they invest in companies.
A venture capital firm will invest in 20 companies hoping that maybe only one or two would get sold or go public, and the other ones may go bankrupt. But that's ok, because when you follow that formula, it means that you have the opportunity that one of those things will go crazy, and take off.
The same thing is true when getting something to spread online. If you just do one thing, you make one video perhaps, sure there's a chance that it might take off, and spread to hundreds of thousands, or millions of people, but if you create ten videos or maybe a few videos, and a few blog posts, and a few pieces of data, a couple of e-books, chances are that one of those things will go crazy, and be shared all over the Web.
The idea is: how can you create a number of different things, all of them a little bit different. Will do one that's funny, one that's serious, will do one that has really valuable data, one that's more entertaining, and then maybe one of them will just take off like crazy.
Robin Good: David Meerman Scott. "World Wide Rave" is the new book.
I think it really shares some valuable info that you can start to put to use anytime right now.
Thank you David, you were absolutely fantastic.
David Meerman Scott: Hey Robin, thank you so much, it's lovely talking to you. I love your stuff, and I've been reading you for years. It's great to have a chance to have a conversation.
Robin Good: Thank you, have a great day in Boston! See you soon!
Originally shot and recorded by Robin Good for MasterNewMedia and first published on February 16, 2009 as "Viral Marketing Principles: Six Key Rules To Get Everyone To Talk About Your Idea".
Robin Good -
What The Books Are About - PaulPaladi
Six Rules For Viral Marketing - Liz Van Steenburgh
Nobody Cares About Your Products... - Andres Rodriguez
Don't Coerce People to Share - presmaster
Lose Control of Your Information - Adrian Matthiassen
Put Down Roots - tawng
Create a Trigger - Ilin Sergey
Point The World to Your Virtual Doorstep - Ron Sumners
Viral Marketing Means Working on Many Ideas - Andres Rodriguez
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