This evening, I will be the guest on Wayne Hurlbert’s Blog Business Success Radio show. We’ll be talking about viral marketing, and I thought I’d share a few thoughts here on the Roadmap as well.
First, tonight on the program, I plan to mention a couple posts I read this week that hit some important points:
- Mike Manuel took a valiant stab at defining all the word-of-mouth marketing terms flying around these days – viral, grassroots, evangelist, buzz etc. etc.
- Nellie Lide has some great viral marketing tips, and she reinforces a point made here often: you can’t make something go viral. All you can do is create something that has the potential. It is the community that decides whether it will embrace it. .
Second, video as viral. Well, yes and no. While it is entirely true that good videos often go viral, just because you do a video does NOT mean that you’ve created a viral marketing campaign. First, your message has to be compelling and it helps if your video is good quality . And for it to be viral marketing, versus simply sharing, you have to have a business objective.
What makes something viral and marketing? It spreads, and spreads FAST. That’s the viral part. It drives people to do something, buy something, watch something, believe something. That’s the marketing part.
So, Mentos and Coke fountains. Viral yes. Viral marketing, no. Weird Al’s White and Nerdy. Definitely viral marketing.
Finally, regular readers of this blog know that I think we find some of our best examples of effective viral and grassroots marketing in the the science fiction "segment" — TV and movies in particular, but also comics and novels. Everything from web-only and web-delivered content released in advance of a film or season premiere (examples the R. Tam Sessions for Serenity and this year’s Battlestar Galactica webisodes) to how carefully the producers "leak out" spoiler information to build buzz for an episode (check out this spoiler, a YouTube clip for tomorrow’s Battlestar episode Unfinished Business) to the pre-screenings done for fans of Firefly and influential bloggers prior to the release of the movie Serenity. Not to mention the numerous fan gatherings and conventions attended by legions of loyal fans, still coming years and years after a show has been canceled. Star Trek, anyone? Even before there was a Next Generation or any movies, people flocked to conventions. In costume.
Why does it work so well in this genre and we don’t see a similar effect in others, like romantic comedy or mystery?
Science fiction and fantasy typically create a new or changed world and usually have long story arcs, often told across multiple movies or novels (sometimes both) regardless of whether they are deliberately connected in an explicit series. Think about the novels of Isaac Asimov. He had a few explicit series in his oeuvre, most notably Foundation, but in the end, almost all his tales became interconnected.
To understand the world, to get the story, the fan must be willing to make a certain commitment. Commitment leads to loyalty, and the loyalty of many leads to a community. And once you have community, you have the potential for effective viral and grassroots marketing. Fans to unite in grassroots efforts to prevent their show from being canceled. Fertile ground for the virus to spread.
Oh yeah, and many of us sci fi/fantasy fans are pretty geeky, so we have all this electronic gear and gadgets which helps us spread the word faster.
So in the interest of doing my part to build buzz for Battlestar Galactica (you were right Mary, it is just about the best show on television), I’ll end this post on a bit of a tangent by naming the characters I’d like to toss out the airlock and my speculation (NOT SPOILER) about who will be revealed next as a Cylon. If you’re not a fan, this won’t make sense. Perhaps it is time to start watching.
Out the airlock: Dee followed by Cally. The characters, mind you, not the actresses, who are terrific.
The next Cylon: Anders. Gotta be him, or Dee. The show’s producers just love to torment Starbuck and Apollo, and what better way to do it.
So say we all.
Or at least me.
Tags: viral marketing, science fiction, Battlestar Galactica, Blog Business Success Radio