Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 28, 2007 6:57 AM

Twist Image Viral Marketing Strategy - Guaranteed Success Or Your Money Back

Yeah, that does not exist.

And yet, not a day goes by, that I don't get a request by an existing or potential client to create a Viral Marketing campaign. The briefing usually starts or ends with them saying, "_ and we want you to make sure that it goes viral." Seeing as I am on a music industry kick lately, that's like asking a musician to write a one hit wonder.

We don't offer Viral Marketing as a service and I don't think anybody with a shred of professionalism in the Digital Marketing space should even promote the fact that they can_ because they can't. Viral Marketing is not a form of marketing, so we should stop calling it Viral Marketing. Viral is an effect. It's a strategic by-product of a successful campaign that resonated with a group of people. You can't create viral_ and those who say they can are simply collecting data of people who do tend to forward things on or Blog about them, as if "seeding" that group is viral success_ it is not. Going back to the same group with a similar message does not formulate the next Subservient Chicken.

I'm actually starting to feel like people (agency and client side) who ask for Viral Marketing are people of faith. They are people who really want to believe that the snake oil salesman actually does have the essential oil for longevity. In fact, this problem of people asking for a program that will go viral has led me to this, now infamous, monologue: "oh, they want it to be viral! Hold on, I put my viral marketing genie bottle right here under my desk. Let me go get it, rub it a few times and we should be ok."

Yes, there are components to every marketing campaign where you can facilitate people's ability to forward something by adding in tools and functionality that makes it easy for consumers to share your content_ but that doesn't make it viral. In fact, if you pin down some of the experts who talk about what truly makes something viral, you will get a unanimous opinion that any marketing initiative worth its snuff does not need those tools or functionality to make it viral because the actual execution and final product is so good that people won't need to be asked to forward it on, they'll do it because they want to.

Bottom line, let's put an end to selling Viral Marketing. It just doesn't work and It winds up cheapening what we, as Marketers, are ultimately trying to do - connect consumers with our brands. If we do our jobs, they'll do theirs by telling everyone they know about how great/cool/funny/crazy we are.

By Mitch Joel