5 steps beyond viral marketing

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2010/03/17 · 43 comments 11,614 views

in c corporate blogging

Despite all the viral marketing success stories, writing a blog post that becomes viral, achieves buzz status and creates huge loads of traffic is a risky strategy. In fact, betting your success on viral marketing is like trying to secure a your retirement by purchasing weekly lottery tickets – very risky and likely to fail.

When your boss opens a meeting by demanding an immediate splash in social media (view graphic about Facebook + Google below – Internet users worldwide spent more than 5.5 hours a month on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter in December 2009), we suggest you ask for some time to plan and follow the five steps outlined below. These will increase desirable traffic to your weblog and result in more sales and better customer engagement.

1. Focus on a targeted audience – B2B
One basic principle of a winning links strategy is to create good content for your target-audience. Therefore, publish content that will be attractive to your existing customers as well as those you hope to attract through linking.

Once you have the basics in place, the natural momentum of the web will take over and your link popularity will grow organically.

Tip 1: Focusing on B2B might mean less competition. However, it will take time to convince business people that what you offer and write about is worth their time.

2. Every language has different rules
Whatever language you use will affect what kind of audience you might attract. Instead of the Russian learned behind the Iron Curtain or the French learned in colonial Africa, globalization has led to most people learning English in school.

Providing content that serves your clients means their language preference will determine what language to use for a corporate blog. In most cases, an organization cannot afford several blogs or writing in more than one language.

Tip 2:  Global reach means many readers will not be native speakers, regardless of the language used. Hence, using humor, slang, abbreviations and so forth is very risky. Whatever makes your British readers smile, may trigger a yawn from a Canadian or cause misunderstanding and upset a non-native speaker.

3. Free traffic costs nothing
While paid traffic is targeted and somewhat controllable, it stops the minute you stop paying. Some people say free is wonderful, but getting traffic from sites like Digg usually only causes a temporary spike.

Therefore, such drive-by visitors or from search engines are a great opportunity for conversion to regular email or RSS subscription. Speaking of which, if you have yet to subscribe to this blog’s content, why not do so now? You will be glad you did.

Tip 3: Build traffic slowly but consistently and watch email/RSS subscription numbers. Keeping current readers happy is critical to engagement and gaining a loyal following, and pays off every time in the longer term.

4. Increase traffic from referrer sites
A link from another blog or website adds a certain credibility. Like with a boomerang, if you link to great content the creator of that content will usually link back to you.

Adding valid, targeted comments to posts that directly relate to your blog, product, or service is part of creating buzz. If your carefully drafted comment includes a relevant URL to a post on your own blog, this creates additional traffic. Most importantly, those readers are probably already interested in the topic.

Referred readers from another weblog are likely to read more than one post and their bounce rate will be lower (i.e. .50, which means they read two pages before leaving the website). Those from search engines might have a bounce rate of .80 or 80 percent, meaning they only read 1.2 pages on average before leaving.

Accordingly, leaving a well-written, clear and concise comment on another blog with information you are trying to spread virally helps create targeted traffic. It takes time to build links this way, but the resulting long-term improvements and additional regular readers are worth it.

Tip 4: Server-side statistics or Google Analytics tell you which referrer sites most lower your bounce rate (i.e. percentage of people leaving site after reading one blog post). In general, readers referred from other blogs will likely read more than one page on your site.

5. Manage SEO quickly and correctly
Good titles and keywords is a given. This means a title should never exceed 62 characters, including spaces, so that search engines show the whole thing and do not cut off your title. The same applies to sites, such as Linkedin or Xing forums.

The post summary (called excerpt in WordPress) is a must for LinkedIn. Again, it should not exceed 160 characters, including spaces. In turn, most services will not cut off the summary, which results in the reader getting the full story and more likely clicking on the link to check out the complete blog post.

Tip 5: SEO is a never-ending process that must be addressed within five minutes for each blog (i.e. excerpt/summary and keywords) to stay within a limited budget.

If you want some practical help with these challenges, register now for our complimentary Webinar on 2010-03-18 at 10:30 CET (GMT +1) in German: Die richtigen Metrics fuer das erfolgreiche Benchmarking von Weblogs

P.S. – To support your efforts to devise the right strategy that will help you get the biggest bang for your blogging buck, we prepared a list of 20 lessons, or the 20 mistakes you definitely do not want to make with your corporate blog:

Other interesting articles you may want to check out:

Bottom line
Instead of planning for a viral uptake, we suggest you do your homework (see above) and provide your audience with something they value.

Image - Facebook becomes a bigger hit than Google as sociability clicks with US web users - membership numbers double in the past yearRegularly posting great blog content and following the preceding five tips increases relevant or targeted blog traffic, keeps your customers engaged and helps your sales efforts. Twitter, Identi.ca, Facebook and Xing groups are all channels that support efforts to create buzz. Without great word-of-mouth marketing, most blog posts get far less traffic than they could or probably should.

Of course such work requires identifying the best monitoring and listening tool for you to regularly report on the blog’s performance and tweak its progress. With My.ComMetrics.com you get a helpful dashboard for capturing and showing key metrics from your blogging efforts that help illustrate progress to your boss.

What is your take? What strategies have worked to increase targeted traffic for your corporate blog? What needs to be done differently when using social media in a B2B context? Please share; we love dialoguing in the comments. What has worked with your blog?

Remember, planes are NEVER supposed to be floating in the Hudson river, and people are NEVER supposed to be standing on the wings. That may be a key reason why people will remember and talk about this incident for a long time to come. However, you cannot plan for it and most importantly, US Airways’ brand certainly did not benefit from this viral video, did it?

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Article source: ComMetrics – 5 steps beyond viral marketing

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  • http://deborahdrake.com/Blog Deborah Drake – Catalyst

    Your blog posts just get better and more enjoyable Urs. And like good bloggers you seem to build on past experiences yourself, setting a great model for others to consider following. Word of Mouth and Viral can indeed work for or against you…fine example. And doing one's homework and being tactical and consistent seem to be three easy basic strategies.

    Is anyone good at all three points of this triangle? If one isn't I say make it a team effort so that your blog represents the best face and voice possible.

    I'm so glad to see you post your lessons 1-20. And as a marketeer who encourages both clients and colleagues and friends who I know mean to plan and post and devote a little time to their blogs and the blogs of others, I find STILL a reticence to see the value of developing consistency in doing so.

    There is a perception that being social present takes too much time. Perhaps you can offer your counsel on how to be all that you recommend above and do so in the most efficient way, including best recommendations for how frequently and when it is best to post? I bet you have some stellar thoughts on that. For all you have been benchmarking and monitoring.

    Looking forward to the next post and hope other readers contribute to this post and others.

    • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

      Deborah,

      thanks so much for this comment, it is really helpful.

      I am not sure if anybody is good enough to mange doing one's homework, being tactical and consistent at the same time.

      Doing one's homework requires that one reads and today I was told:

      “Who reads books or e-books besides a professor even if they are 30-pages in length or less?”

      I am not sure but we seem to be in a world where we supposedly work ever less but at the same time appear to fritter away our time…. with things such as watching TV, commuting to and from work and trying to stay connected all-the-time (e.g., getting tweets on one's smartphone).

      So we will see who makes this and how it will work. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://karenpurves.com karenpurves

    Great post and here's a slightly different take but adds to what Urs has posted already.

    My example relates to law firms really because it's not always easy to translate the general to something specific and, perhaps what would seem to many a dry subject…

    Viral Marketing does work but really depends upon having material that is “sticky” in the minds of your audience. And, that can be completely different to what you thing should be sticky.

    If you read “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip and Dan Heath it gives you an insight into what makes things sticky.

    It's the surprise element that is common.

    So how would that appear in law?

    Lets say a client had to make people redundant and was going through all the compliance presented … the video or story was showing that progress was being made and the awful task was coming to completion – when whammy! in from left field – a statutory body, or worse a bank, foreclosed… now you might be thinking well that the risk but…

    what if the video or story rewinds and instead of going through all the compliance, the lawyers understood the clients business, completed the redundancy exercise and company was in better shape to trade ….

    That would raise a talking point inside the market – that there was another way and the law firm who published the story would certainly increase their profile and gain more clients.

    My experience of law firms in the UK is that no one is thinking like this not even, the ambulance chasers.

    Viral or buzz marketing is an advanced tool, one of sophistication that really requires a thorough understanding of what's going on inside the minds of potential clients.

    If you would like to use buzz marketing, please contact me :)

    • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

      Karen

      I love your positive approach to this and compared to Shellee below, you interpret the viral challenge quite a bit different.

      I am somewhat puzzled by the example regarding the redundancy and having to respond in case your bank goes out of business as well :-) While I agree that an understanding of your clients' needs is a must to be able to create a buzz, it still does not mean it works (see US Airways video above – plane on the river). Hence, I see it as:

      a) a buzz might happen without the company even wanting to happen (see US Airways), AND
      b) when you want a buzz to happen it may dizzle or flop and drop like a rock.

      Unless you have great resources, I stay by my assessment that creating viral marketing or buzz marketing is not a science but has to do much with luck and being at the right place at the right time.

      Karen, thanks for going to the trouble posting this. It got me thinking and I now wonder if I cannot do better in the future, but if all fails, I ask you. Thanks.

  • shelleehale

    The best viral marketing for lawyers is good press, the more successful and efficient cost wise a lawyer can be the more likely they are to be hired.

    Reading about the great strategies of a good lawyer or even watching it live is the best sales pitch and the most likely content to go viral.

    • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

      Shellee

      Great to see you comment, love it. Viral marketing and good press. I agree totally, without good press nothing works and most certainly not for a lawyer, chartered account (CPA) or a consultant.

      Of course, a good story about how a poor orphan boy made good will more likely go viral than my discussion above about viral marketing :-)

      Shellee I hope you continue to benefit from your reputation and leverage your skills to better serve your clients. Look forward to your next comment.

  • http://twitter.com/SozialMedialist Social Media Insight

    hi urs, thanks for sharing these insights!

    i hope i can use some of your tips for my community.

    i really need more visits. i think the idea is very good, but somehow people do not sign up.

    maybe we can discuss some possibilities to get mor traffic when we meet in basel.

    for all the others:

    if you are interested in social media and want to share your experiences and insights, please feel free to sign-up to:

    http://socialmediainsight.ning.com

    best, aldo

    • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

      Dear aldo

      Thanks for stopping by. But you have to be patient, even Microsoft was not built over night. But I know how you must feel. I have felt the same way about my Xing group several times. We started in November and we are now up to 130 members and growing.

      ===> http://www.xing.com/net/smmetrics

      But it is a cultural thing as well. North Americans tend to be faster with these things joining more networks than some other people might. But slow and continuing efforts to provide content, services that your targeted audience craves for is surely helpful.

      So please, give it some time and not just a couple of weeks. Most importantly, define your target audience and what is it you want to accomplish exactly and why. Once this is taken care of, of that is left is realising the plans.

      Thanks for sharing and I hope to see you back commenting soon.

      • http://twitter.com/SozialMedialist Social Media Insight

        dear urs,

        thanks for the hints.

        you know, i have:

        1. a focus –> social media insiders

        2. a target audience –> practitioners, academics and enthusiasts on social media

        3. a vision –> becoming a recogniced source for social media insiders.

        my community will never become big since i focus only on social media and it's implications for marketing, communications and collaboration.

        i will continuing following your posts and i'm sure i will make progress…

        thank you again urs!

        best,
        aldo

    • http://deborahdrake.com/Blog Deborah Drake – Catalyst

      Aldo,

      I too hope that using the tips within the posts gets you the traffic and increased membership you desire. And while it takes time, it is time well spent when we attract active members, yes?

      You got my attention and I submitted a profile for approval.

      • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

        Deborah

        Great, I did too …. and Aldo is active but I have to point out that there are many sites for social media enthusiasts, practitioners and researchers….. already.

        So I still need to understand what its uniqueness or value proposition is exactly. But I am sure Aldo will let us know.

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  • http://legalvanitynumbers.com/ legalvanitynumbers

    I really appreciate your post, the insight is amazing. brilliant ideas. Kudos from law marketing.

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  • http://www.thecuillincollective.co.uk/ Viral videos

    Internet videos are not for entertainment alone. Through Internet video marketing, one can promote products and services online, by using catchy and short, but informative videos. Just think what would you like better; a long and boring reading or a snappy video with a super face talking to you.

  • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

    BrigitannThanks for commenting. I fully agree that videos are not just for entertainment but promotional purposes as well including:nn==> viral marketing works andnn===> Old Spice – trying to better engage (under Thursday heading).nnThere are other example where it has flopped miserably and I still believe that a negative video is more likely to be spread across the Internet than a positive one.nnThanks for sharing.

  • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

    BrigitannThanks for commenting. I fully agree that videos are not just for entertainment but promotional purposes as well including:nn==> viral marketing works andnn===> Old Spice – trying to better engage (under Thursday heading).nnThere are other example where it has flopped miserably and I still believe that a negative video is more likely to be spread across the Internet than a positive one.nnThanks for sharing.

  • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

    BrigitannThanks for commenting. I fully agree that videos are not just for entertainment but promotional purposes as well including:nn==> viral marketing works andnn===> Old Spice – trying to better engage (under Thursday heading).nnThere are other example where it has flopped miserably and I still believe that a negative video is more likely to be spread across the Internet than a positive one.nnThanks for sharing.

  • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

    BrigitannThanks for commenting. I fully agree that videos are not just for entertainment but promotional purposes as well including:nn==> viral marketing works andnn===> Old Spice – trying to better engage (under Thursday heading).nnThere are other example where it has flopped miserably and I still believe that a negative video is more likely to be spread across the Internet than a positive one.nnThanks for sharing.

  • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

    BrigitannThanks for commenting. I fully agree that videos are not just for entertainment but promotional purposes as well including:nn==> viral marketing works andnn===> Old Spice – trying to better engage (under Thursday heading).nnThere are other example where it has flopped miserably and I still believe that a negative video is more likely to be spread across the Internet than a positive one.nnThanks for sharing.

  • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

    BrigitannThanks for commenting. I fully agree that videos are not just for entertainment but promotional purposes as well including:nn==> viral marketing works andnn===> Old Spice – trying to better engage (under Thursday heading).nnThere are other example where it has flopped miserably and I still believe that a negative video is more likely to be spread across the Internet than a positive one.nnThanks for sharing.

  • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

    BrigitannThanks for commenting. I fully agree that videos are not just for entertainment but promotional purposes as well including:nn==> viral marketing works andnn===> Old Spice – trying to better engage (under Thursday heading).nnThere are other example where it has flopped miserably and I still believe that a negative video is more likely to be spread across the Internet than a positive one.nnThanks for sharing.

  • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

    BrigitannThanks for commenting. I fully agree that videos are not just for entertainment but promotional purposes as well including:nn==> viral marketing works andnn===> Old Spice – trying to better engage (under Thursday heading).nnThere are other example where it has flopped miserably and I still believe that a negative video is more likely to be spread across the Internet than a positive one.nnThanks for sharing.

  • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

    BrigitannThanks for commenting. I fully agree that videos are not just for entertainment but promotional purposes as well including:nn==> viral marketing works andnn===> Old Spice – trying to better engage (under Thursday heading).nnThere are other example where it has flopped miserably and I still believe that a negative video is more likely to be spread across the Internet than a positive one.nnThanks for sharing.

  • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

    BrigitannThanks for commenting. I fully agree that videos are not just for entertainment but promotional purposes as well including:nn==> viral marketing works andnn===> Old Spice – trying to better engage (under Thursday heading).nnThere are other example where it has flopped miserably and I still believe that a negative video is more likely to be spread across the Internet than a positive one.nnThanks for sharing.

  • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

    BrigitannThanks for commenting. I fully agree that videos are not just for entertainment but promotional purposes as well including:nn==> viral marketing works andnn===> Old Spice – trying to better engage (under Thursday heading).nnThere are other example where it has flopped miserably and I still believe that a negative video is more likely to be spread across the Internet than a positive one.nnThanks for sharing.

  • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

    Brigita

    Thanks for commenting. I fully agree that videos are not just for entertainment but promotional purposes as well including:

    ==> viral marketing works and

    ===> Old Spice – trying to better engage (under Thursday heading).

    There are other example where it has flopped miserably and I still believe that a negative video is more likely to be spread across the Internet than a positive one.

    Thanks for sharing.

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