Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

YouTube marketing 8 – operationalizing the viral marketing follow-through

Posted in Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on November 15, 2012

This is my eighth installment in a best practices series for developing more effective YouTube and similar video clip marketing campaigns (see Web 2.0 Marketing, postings 64-70 for Parts 1-7.) I have been developing a basic approach in this series to creating media rich marketing campaigns that are more likely to be shared through social media links and to go viral. I add here that going viral per se is often presented as a goal in and of itself but that cannot be considered a valid conclusion. Going viral as a goal should only be seen as a web 2.0 driven, social media generation counterpart to the eyeball and sticky eyeball counts so coveted leading up to the first dot com bubble and its bursting. It is what comes next after a message goes viral that creates value out of this increased visibility, if anything does.

I began this part of my overall discussion of viral marketing in a rich media context with Part 7: you’ve gone viral; now what? and I continue from that here with this series installment. And I begin this posting with a fundamentally important set of points:

• Right now when social media and marketing messages go viral and start to gather wide ranging viewership, this is almost always unplanned for and unprepared for. Nothing is operationally in place specifically to identify a rising trend in viewership early, or to in any way capitalize on it.
• So as a consequence, the fact that a message has gained this type of expanded and even global audience and viewership is probably not even going to be recognized until this phenomenon of expanded viewership has peaked, and after a really effective response to that could even be possible.
• If you wait until people are beginning to move on to some next thing before you know that an opportunity for wider marketing reach has been available to you it is not necessarily entirely too late to gain from that, but you have lost the potential momentum and impact this could have offered to your business.

So operationalizing a viral marketing follow-through has to begin with having mechanisms and processes in place and actively utilized that would track viewership and help you identify as early as possible when this visibility is starting to trend upwards.

• Who are you now gaining as viewers and through what shared link channels and for which of your marketing campaign messages? This calls for tagging what you offer in ways that would help you to Google where it is being shared through, from crowd sourced links posted to new online venues. It means actively tracking overall numbers of hits to your video clips, of course but with a goal of identifying who might be viewing what and at least to the demographics level of finding out where they actually see that from.
• And you want to capture what you can as to the shared conversation about this viral expansion of viewership – what people are saying about one of your messages that would prompt others to view it too. This is crucial, as this information would help you craft a more targeted and timely follow-up message, and with a goal of converting passive viewers into active participants in two way conversations with you. And that is where you begin in making this now viral message work for you, in helping you generate new business.

But that is not strictly speaking true as that should not actually be seen as the first step; it is more accurately the first follow-up step. The first step is in building a call to action and a path to two-way connection and follow-through into your video marketing messages themselves.

• Make it easier for viewers to reach you by sharing a path for them to follow in reaching you. And do this with easy to remember URL’s and other resources that you offer in an appealing way that would fit into the message itself.
• And offer this connection-back information with a hook in the form of an incentive for people to reach back to your business.

This all begins with the message but operational follow-through means someone is ready to gather in and respond to any feedback offered: passively and anonymously as for example from link counts and identification of where links to your message have been posted through the crowd, or actively as specific viewers follow through on your message-embedded call to action.

• And of course, use unique call to action tags such as unique shared URL’s so any responses to them that come back to you can be identified as to which marketing campaign they are responses to.

I am going to follow this with a discussion of how the operational goals of viral marketing and the operational requirements of making it work, fit into the overall business model and into ongoing business strategy and planning. As a foretaste of that I note that this means a lot more than simply developing for and responding to predictable seasonal shifts and opportunities, though effective planning and preparation for true viral marketing reach would always include that as a basis for planning and execution too. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Web 2.0 Marketing.

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