Going Viral For The Sake Of Going Viral Not Such A Good Idea

from the think-this-through-a-bit dept

Last month at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association summit, I was struck by how many people seemed to be interested in word of mouth marketing campaigns because it was “the thing to do” rather than something actually useful for the business. It seems that others are noticing this as well. There’s a good column in Ad Age exploring the trend of big companies to launch really, really bad viral marketing campaigns that don’t serve any purpose other than to be annoying. It’s as if some marketing folks have determined that “viral” and “word of mouth” just means putting something weird online and expecting people to flock to it. Except that it also probably involves lots of marketing people who are tinkering with the idea until it loses any sense of anything interesting, and comes off as just a bizarre marketing ploy that no one is interested in. Word of mouth marketing and viral campaigns work if there’s actually a reason for people to talk about them and pass them on. That means the product being discussed or the viral content actually is good and interesting. Just making it weird or different is a recipe for failure — but it’s not stopping plenty of companies from going down that path.

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Comments on “Going Viral For The Sake Of Going Viral Not Such A Good Idea”

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Bill W (user link) says:

Marketers are stupid or ignorant ...

let’s just leave it at that. I have no idea where they get their ideas but I am positive there is no connection to any sort of reality involved.

A case-in-point … I think it’s fairly well established within the “listening” public that radio ads that YELL AT YOU THAT BUYING FROM SO-AND-SO-CAR-DEALER only turn people off. In my local area there is one car dealer that tries to “suck you in” by starting his commercial very quietly then YELLING INCESSANTLY!

My emails objecting to the demeaning treatment of their listeners to the radio station have gone unanswered. As a result I have turned to my XM radio for my music and news. I wonder if they will notice.

My point, to get back to the subject, is that marketers truly believe that we are sheep. They have no knowledge of “OFF” buttons, MUTE buttons, or anything else that might allow us to actually choose what we are subjected to. Until they understand that we have CHOICE they will never realize their own arrogance.

Thanks for listening!


A wee bit miffed says:

Re: Marketers are stupid or ignorant ...

Oh, I don’t know…
I am a full-fledged marketer and I view logs, pull up our master revenue reports, write and read blogs on a daily basis – I pay attention to what folks out in the real world like and want. And I bulldoze my way through the corporate baloney to get it out there the way I KNOW it should be. I don’t bend over and take it up the you-know-what just because somebody told me to. Now, I realize that not every marketing professional out there in the world has this freedom (or the balls, for that matter) to go ahead and “execute now, ask for forgiveness later” but I am determined to. And 99.9% of the time – it WORKS. And if more people were like that – then we’d not be having to chase down people calling us stupid and ignorant out here.

I work for an internet marketing company, carry a full marketing title, and I would like to think that I’m not stupid OR ignorant.

David Binkowski (user link) says:

M, we all go through it

Hey M, it’s OK to admit that we hear them every day – you hit the correct point, which is that they DIE in the conference room (as they should).

Mike, here’s my experience: Every client wants to do “viral” without knowing what that really is or the risks associated with trying to create their own “viral”. The conversation usually turns to something more tangible when they ask for the ROI on it.

David Binkowski (user link) says:

oh, don't i know...

Same story if you’ve ever worked on a corporate website.

Clueless Corporate Drone: “Put this board member’s photo on there.”

Me: “Why?”

CCD: “Because.”

Me: “I just checked the log files, and no one is looking to see who’s on our board. Literally. 0 page views for the year.”

CCD: “Just do it, Ok?”

It’s the “check it off my list” mentality that kills sites (and campaigns).

William Green says:

Buzz Analytics Tells it as it is at the CES

Buzz Analytics (http://www.BuzzAnalytics.com) the firm that tracks opinion and trends on the Internet using Intelligence Agency techniques gave a presentation, that I attended, at the Consumer Electronics Show for their private clients and guests on how their tested methodology works and how their clients – a who’s who of major firms – are measuring ROI. This came from their clients who were griping about fad techniques that provide no value and are just cash burners.

The interesting thing is that some of their clients set contracts with advertising firms where an incentive fee is calculated based on measured Internet Buzz.

Quite refreshing and no bull.

Search Engines WEB (user link) says:

Social Sites, Blogs & Link Bait

The rise of Social Sites, Competition among Blogs and Link Bait – is what is helping fuel online viral marketing.

Pehaps in the Glamour & Entertainmenet industries, coaxing people – now means applying psycological pressure or social pressure or seduction or sensationalism – because so many options are available.

Sanguine Dream says:

A bad idea indeed...

The very fact that there is a Word of Mouth Marketing Association and they get together for an annual (I assume annual) summit really bothers me. It’s a known fact that you cannot sit in a boardroom and create the viral effect. But due to the fact the corporations only see how much money a good idea can make them is it really surprising to see them bastardizing this for all money they can milk out of it?

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