Viral Marketing To Digg, Reddit And Other Large Web Populations

Viral marketing has become the holy grail of the modern Internet. Almost everyone with products or services to sell seeks some magical piece of content that will make their web page fly to the top ofv Google even as it gets taken down by too many clicks from DIGG and REDDIT.

The truth is that Viral Marketing is like the actor who becomes and overnight success . . . after twenty years in the industry and a few thousand hours of acting classes. When you look back, its obvious that little was left to chance.

The heart of a good viral marketing campaign for a product or serice is the product or service which has the following properties:

It can be purchased.
It meets customer expectations, even if its not what you expected.
It is easy to find, even when a customer doesn’t have all that much information.
It is something for which there are no substitutes.
A good example of this kind of product is the IPHONE. Those of us who saw that product saw it, wanted to buy it, knew who sold it, and were able to own it in a matter of hours, or at most days. If your product doesn’t meet these requirements, think hard before trying to launch a viral marketing campaign on any large site. Creating massive demand for a product that delivers disappointment rarely serves you well.

Once You Have A Winning Product or Service . . .

The key to marketing a product using what amounts to “word of mouth” on the Internet has to do with fitting your product or service into one of the many communities that lives on the Internet. You need to identify exactly who uses your product or services, where they go online, and what most interests them.

Sites like “Web Marketing Today” provide some good demographic studies for several populations and websites. You can find the demographics for most large web populations site searching Google for the name of any website followed by the word “demographics”.

Once you know who you are talking to, where to find them, and what you want to sell them . . . you are in a position to come up with viral content that will lead them to your site.

For example, DIGG demographics indicate that their population is 94% male, 20-35, and makes $75K+ per year. This is not the best target for geriatric medical services or home insurance. This might be a very good target for film content, DVD content, video game content and information on new gadgets. This population is literate, is somewhat preoccupied by sex, is often willing to watch clips online and frequently purchases products or services over the Internet. They are often politically active and politically liberal. If you check their most popular articles for the last year, products from Apple, Google, and Microsoft are mentioned in 10 or more of the top 50 articles. The bulk of the rest focus on politics, DIGG itself, Scientology and 10-35 year old celebrities.

To get your product or service to the top of this site, incorporating technology, politics, sex and/or religion into your offering might well be a good idea.

The REDDIT population, by way of contrast, may average somewhat younger, be somewhat more politically active and politically liberal, and may have a slightly lower income. Both populations like to see themselves as “influential” and “leading edge” but get irritated if they thing their “social channel” is being used for overt marketing.

And Now for the Content

For a quick sale of a product or service, video content is most effective. Routing people to a YouTube video where they can learn more about your offering works better than routing them to your corporate web page. For one thing, you can control YouTube comments. For another, more people will watch a good video for longer than they will read an excellent article. Production values are important . . .

In order to get to the top of any social website, create the content, ask employees, friends, relations and others to register for accounts, then post the content, then sent them to the site to “vote up” the content you have posted. You should also encourage people to post comments on the product or service along with upvoting. The more honest the comment is, the better. A post that warns people that “big thumbs and an IPHONE don’t mix”, or one that mentions that “you have to be a AT&T customer” to use the phone is the kind of bad news that sells well on these sites. Always remember that your objective is “awareness” not “sales”.

Finally, don’t be too afraid of controversy. Social networking sites are locations where conversations are spirited or angry from time to time. Flame wars break out on a regular basis. For every guy that loves the IPHONE, there’s someone else who can’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Michael Moore probably sent thank you flowers to O’Reilly for hating Fahrenheit 9/11 so much. That kind of national public attention is something you just can’t buy. More people hear about Scientology when Anonymous attacks it day after day, and more people hear about McCain when liberals attack him. Controversy, attacks and flame wars are part of the “informational process” that raises product or service awareness. Make sure the first twenty posts for your topic are somewhat favorable and you’ll find most folks never read more than that.

Good Viral Marketing is an On Going Process

Successful products and services come around again and again with new angles. A story about how “The New Indiana Jones is a Rotten Movie” tells lots of people the new movie is coming out. A story about “Harrison Ford’s New Abs” tells people Harrison Ford is in the film. As you create viral marketing campaigns, plan to have several related stories that you release over time. A successful viral marketing campaign has many engagements.