Viral marketing doesn’t exist unless your content actually goes viral. This is contrary to what countless advertising, production or guerrilla marketing companies will tell you. (Sorry guys.)
When a piece of marketing does go viral? It will either burn out fast and furious or enjoy infamy and adulation from its many fans.
What separates the two makes the difference between success and failure. After all, the message that your company sucks may go viral, but it doesn’t make you successful and will end up hurting you.
How can you avoid the pitfalls and dangers inherent with widespread impressions?
Listen and learn:
Half the internet is stolen content. Possibly more. The recycling of content is an endless cycle and originality isn’t something that gets anyone offended (most hardly notice). The difference between Coca-Cola and Lyre567 ripping off content is a major issue though.
One is a huge conglomerate with countless resources. The other pirates movies in his studio apartment. Coca-Cola can probably pay someone to be original or at least acknowledge where the idea came from.
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Now, nothing is original. However, does that mean that agencies can co-opt an important piece of a culture for their own ends? Inspiration or not, the decision by BBDO Mexico to use the exact concept is well, just stupid. Think it through kiddos. You aren’t just nibbling. You’re regurgitating. ~Agency Spy
You weren’t honest.
How many times does a production company have to shoot grainy “amateur” footage of a proposed viral before people realize that this is going to horrendously backfire? Great content can stand on its own merit. It doesn’t need to be watered down and made more grainy to appeal to the masses.
Note: This only applies to things that could technically be possible. Shawn Johnson jumping over a bobsled? Obviously fake and in the clear.
With all our talk about the brilliant viral marketing campaigns for movies like Funny People and District 9, I figured it would only be fair to point out that sometimes viral marketing schemes can also crash and burn. Case in point: this weak attempt at creating online buzz for the movie I Love You, Beth Cooper. ~ Film Junk
Your content sucked.
Not everything deserves to go viral. In fact? 99.9% of content that is out there doesn’t merit the originality to be created in the first place.
Just because you spent $5 million+ on something doesn’t instantly make it a success. Ask Michael Bay.
Unilever’s success with socially responsible Dove viral ads found resistance when a Youtube user made a mashup of the Dove ads and some of Unilever’s Axe commercials, which many consider sexist. Axe ads were used to show how on one hand the company objectifies women, while on the other, it pretends to care about the daughters of America. ~ Dan Zarrella
You pissed off the wrong people.
Anything worth doing content-wise is bound to upset a few people (possibly even a lot). The important things to remember? Don’t piss off your target demographic. Don’t pick on anyone who doesn’t deserve it. And most importantly? Don’t piss off 4chan.
There is a reason that Nazis have been the go to villain for the last 50+ years. Everybody hates them, even the ACLU.
If you weren’t following what was happening online this weekend (yes, yes, ok you’ve got a life) there was a Groundswell against Motrin’s latest viral advertisement that was rejected by mothers in Twitter, spread to blogs, and YouTube. I’m not a mom, so at first glance I didn’t understand the offense, but apparently, it was condescending to moms who perceived wearing babies in a sling as ‘fashionable’ accessory, and who didn’t wanted to be labeled as an ‘official mom’. The original video, which was trying to lean on the light side, took to many generalizations with mothers and resulted in a revolt capped by this backlash video. ~Jeremiah Owyang
You were intrusive.
This is the most important (and overlooked) aspect of viral marketing. Does it get in people’s way? Does it disrupt their morning commute? Does it take over your desktop?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions? Stop and rethink what you are doing. Will it be considered more trouble then it is actually worth?
Some content that is intrusive is unbelievable, innovative and kind of cool. Take this with a grain of salt though: I’m a marketer. If your content will lead to someone duct-taping all of their windows to avoid a zombie plague apocalypse? You might want to reconsider. (I’d still think it was awesome though.)
It’s probably a bad idea to market to consumers by tricking them with practical jokes. It’s definitely a bad idea to make a consumer fear for her safety over a five day period because she thinks a stalker is coming after her. That’s why a woman in Los Angeles is suing Toyota for $10 million after being on the receiving end of a Punk’d-style stunt to promote the Toyota Matrix. ~The Consumerist
Good content stands on its own merit. You don’t need to pull off fancy tricks to make it fly. Simply doing something awesome is usually enough to get people to take notice.
In order to be successful: Seed, fertilize and tend to your content with care. Your effort should be worth it. Whether or not it takes off? Well, that’s an act of God or MSaleem.
Image Source: Wendy Berry