The Viral Myth – Viral is not a Marketing Strategy

April 11th, 2011 No Comments

Frequently many companies look to a new strategy to promote themselves: going viral.

They either make a funny video or hire a social media manager with the goal to go ‘viral.’ If that tactic is not combined with an integrated marketing strategy, they are likely to fail.

Viral is not a marketing strategy.

Despite claims that social media democratizes media and communication, a recent study shows that your message still the greatest chance of being spread when expressed by a small number of elite influencers…. whether it’s Robert Scoble, Om Malik, an industry analyst or the New York Times. According to research by Yahoo!, roughly 50% of tweets consumed are generated by just 20,000 elite users.

In February, no one had heard of Rebecca Black or knew that on Friday everyone was looking forward to the weekend. Yet the 13-year-old’s video went unnoticed on YouTube for over a month. It only “went viral” after it was noticed by an influencer, comedian Michael Nelson, and a link on the Comedy Central’s Tosh.0 website. Then, as other influencers started noticing, Black’s video started gaining traction and now has over 97 million views and being the most disliked video on YouTube with almost 2 million dislikes. 15 years ago, America’s Funniest Home Videos never got that much exposure. Bob Saget must be jealous.

Of course, today the barriers of entry are much lower. It cost just $2,000 for Black’s family to make that video and another $2,000 to secure the rights. It’s far easier to get noticed today than it ever was before. But the field of people attempting to ‘go viral’ is also increasing.

This is why a holistic marketing approach, based on a solid business strategy, and connected by an integrated matrix of marketing touch points – public relations, advertising, email, SEO, MARCOM, and web development … in which some of your material developed are distributed and engaged with via social channels – is more important now than ever.

Because if you hope that ‘going viral’ will just happen disconnected from a holistic marketing strategy, keep hoping. Unless it’s Friday.

This post is crossposted on The Cline Group

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