Viral marketing has become a respectable and most importantly, very effective means of marketing among businesses worldwide – that’s if it is done correctly and respectfully.
Correctly and respectfully? What does that mean? It means not abusing the system. It means using viral marketing tactics to spread the word about your business, your product and your service without offending others or being self-serving.
But, viral marketing is inherently self-serving, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. To be truly effective, viral marketing must include a give and take approach. You must engage others, take part in conversation, and give as much as you get. In other words, don’t expect your message to spread itself. Viral marketing takes time, careful planning and well-thought out execution.
It has, for lack of a better word, an incurable need for attention.
While viral marketing can be applied in a number of ways, there are 3 main approaches:
#1 – To Share. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are in fact products of viral marketing themselves. While they’re sole purpose is to allow (and encourage) users to share information, they too must share their service via their users. It’s simple, really. Their users believe in them and enjoy their websites so much, that they share those websites with others. Knowing this and trusting this would take place, these social media powerhouses have become multi-million, some billion dollar businesses thanks to, you guessed it, viral marketing.
#2 – To Add Value. Adding value is not a characteristic unique to viral marketing. It is a common marketing approach across the board. For hundreds of years, business owners have understood the importance of offering their customers “more”. For instance, buy this product and receive this additional product for free. You get the picture. So, this notion of adding value applies to your viral marketing in the same way. However, rather than simply applying added value to your products and services, make value-added offers to those who share your message. For instance, send this message to an additional 10 people, and receive a free product. Incentivize and you will see results!
#3 – To create buzz. Similar to sharing, creating buzz is can be extremely effective. How is it different? While sharing refers to others literally sharing information with friends (i.e. Like my Facebook page? Sign-up for your own Facebook page today and see more of what I’m up to, including photos, favorites and more!) creating buzz is more about spreading the word. Consider how gossip spreads, or the way in which gossip magazines create stories based on hearsay. The idea is to get people “talking” about you and your business in a positive way so that they begin to encourage others to become customers, sign-up or carry on the conversation on their own.
As you can see, viral marketing is about more than inundating your audience with your message. Its about strategic planning and taking an approach that puts your business in a positive light while enticing others to not only become customers, but to spread the word as well.
Oh my! And those are just a few of the social media sites. Talk about social media overload!
Last year I had the opportunity to work with a client as her social media manager. One of the first things she complained about when she contacted me was all the time she was wasting with social media marketing. That’s a pretty common complaint but until recently I didn’t really understand just how much time you could waste when it comes to social media. She was spending anywhere from 2-4 hours a day between Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. As I started doing things for her I often found myself wondering how she could spend so much time every day on these sites. Little did I know that I would soon understand.
Side note – I did not do 100% of social media stuff for said client. We followed a 80/20 rule where I could do 80% of the stuff but she had to commit to doing 20% of it. After all it was about her building relationships with her friends/followers and I couldn’t be her and connect with them on a personal level, she had to that herself.
Social Media Time Out
Remember above when I said, little did I know that I would soon understand (in regards to that client spending so much time on social media sites)? Well, unfortunately I get it now. Recently I wanted to know just how much time I was
spending being productive wasting on Facebook. I spent a day timing myself and the results weren’t pretty. 30 minutes here, 10 minutes there, 20 minutes here, 5 minutes there…they add up to probably a lot more than you think. I know for me they sure did. I’m sad to admit that I wasted almost 4 hours! Yes, 4 hours! Mind you that was from 10am to midnight but still! That’s ridiculous. And sadly I can’t say that I was even doing anything business related!
So, today (September 1st) I embarked on my month long social media time out! Yep, sometimes even adults need a time out too During the next 30 days I plan on focusing on my business! I’m going to put a social media plan into place so that when I do come back on October 1st I have a goal when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc.
Do you know how much time you spend on social media sites each day/every week?
If you don’t, I challenge you to time yourself and see how long you’re spending. I don’t necessarily recommend you take a time out, especially if you do a lot of business related things on Twitter, Facebook, etc. But maybe it’s time to measure whether you’re getting an ROI (return on investment) on that time you’re spending with social media sites.