Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

YouTube marketing 5 – sharing and going viral 1

Posted in Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on October 19, 2012

This is my fifth installment in a best practices series for developing more effective YouTube and similar video clip marketing campaigns (see Web 2.0 Marketing, postings 64-67 for Parts 1-4.) I said at the end of Part 4: placement that I would more explicitly discuss word of mouth and viral marketing here, and I admit up-front that was something of a misstatement. True, I will be focusing on those topic areas here but in a fundamental sense this entire series has been directed towards developing and encouraging community-sourced marketing for your business and its products and services.

• When you operate a business in an interactive online-aware marketplace and facing web 2.0 and social media savvy competition, crowd-sourced and viral marketing reach can quickly become the defining edge that separates stronger businesses from weaker, and can become the competitive difference that creates and drives market share.

That is not to say that you or any other business leader or owner can dispense with your own marketing and communications campaigns. I do not, I add, claim to offer a 100% certain methodology for making any and every marketing campaign go viral with community voice and person to person reach and impact. It means that the marketing messages coming out of your doors cannot and will not be enough, in and of themselves but that you can increase your chances of effectively enhancing their reach from community participation. And outlining something as to how to achieve that is my goal for this posting – and I begin here with the fundamentals and consideration of basic social networking taxonomy (see Social Network Taxonomy and Social Networking Strategy, which I recommend you review.)

I write in my social network taxonomy posting about the strategies and approaches that individual people take when deciding who to connect with online, and both when actively reaching out and when considering connection invitations from others. Viral marketing begins with who people connect with, and on how they decide on that as a matter of process and preference when facing a connection or sharing opportunity.

• Start with the people you can and do already reach through your marketing and who have done business with you as customers or end-users of your products and services.
• Always ask customers and prospective customers to connect online with your business, and with a request for email addresses as just a starting point. Actively use sites such as Twitter and Facebook too. Invite anyone visiting your web site and any customer or potential customer to friend you on Facebook and to sign up for your tweets – and incentivize their doing so with offers to be the first to hear of sales or other promotions. Offer special-discount promotional codes through your social media channels that customers can cash in through your web site to get free shipping or price discounts on purchases. And offer these benefits as incentives for them to social media connect with your business. And this, up to here, is simply basic online marketing. And this is also where you add a strategic awareness of social media taxonomies and strategies to this mix.
• The people who would friend your business and sign up to receive your promotional tweets have already self-selected for holding at least two traits important to your marketing. First, they like your business and what you offer. And second and equally important for this, they are people who are very comfortable with and active using social media and social networking. The killer app for creating a foundation for marketing campaigns to go viral is in being able to identify the people from this group who would share a message about your business and what it offers, and giving them the tools and resources to do so. And from your side of this, that means giving them a message they find interesting enough and entertaining enough to want to share. This bullet point has been about identifying and actively engaging in conversation and follow-through, a seed group of high value networkers who you can cultivate towards sharing your message. And that is where video marketing with its media-rich messaging comes into this.
• Craft your message to appeal to the people you seek to reach for its own value. This, as I have already noted in this series can mean producing and sharing messages that are quirky or humorous and that people would want to share for that. It could be because the message addresses an issue of community concern and in a way that comes across as genuine and impactful. But produce your message with a dual goal of offering interest and even direct value in and of itself, and also of sharing word of your business and what you offer and with your branding. And richer content and format messages are easier to craft so as to meet both sets of goals as they offer more and richer content and they appeal to, or at least connect with more senses and more channels for making a communications connection.

I wrote in my taxonomy posting about active and passive networkers – you need to find and engage active networkers and preferably very active ones. I wrote of reach and of networking strategies that would bring individuals to connect across communities and specialized communities. For purposes of this, that means connecting to people who have similar enough shared background and perspective that they would also see value in a video message they were led to, and so they would want to share it too. And while only some recipients would in most cases be so receptive and also be willing to re-share this with still more people, if enough do a video clip marketing message can gain real traction and spread. And then this is all a question of follow through back to your business and to doing business with you, and that is where your product and service, and your branding sides to this marketing message enter in.

• You want that to be explicitly there and carefully crafted.
• But you do not want the pitch side of this message to come across as forced or strained. You want a viewer to pay attention to the overall message and to the appealing and crowd-spreadable side to it. And coming out of their initial favorable impression that this creates you want them to reconsider this message for your marketing and sales-oriented side to it.
• This, as a conclusion sounds daunting but that is because I state this in terms of a finished video marketing message. Start with a goal of creating an enjoyable, thoughtful message that people would want to watch all the way through and that some or even many might be willing to share – even include an interactive invitation into this side of the overall message, to encourage sharing. Then, and only then look for ways to add in a more business-oriented message. Never simply start with that, or your crowd connecting message side will start out looking stilted and forced and that is a position difficult to recover from and certainly in the film clip length constraints you have to work in.
• See my postings Problems and Opportunities in Up To 140 Characters – Twitter and business networking (written long) and Haiku Marketing – tweeting and re-tweeting for viral marketing reach and impact. I focus there on length constraints inherent to Twitter and microblogging but the same basic issues and considerations for action apply here too.

I have mostly been writing here from a big-picture perspective and as a matter of general principles. There is a saying to the effect that the devil is in the details; in this case the more interesting parts to this are in the details even if the complications for actually doing this are too. I am going to delve into some of them in my next series installment. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Web 2.0 Marketing.

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