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Jumpstart a Viral Marketing Campaign

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About to launch a viral campaign and need to energize it to increase the likelihood of success? Here are some strategies that can help jumpstart it and spread the word.

Partner with Related Businesses

This strategy can be low-cost with enormous rewards. The trick is to find related sites and arrange a mutually beneficial deal. Perhaps you will cross-promote their site, or offer their users a discount.

Here's an example. Sell coffee products? Reach out to gourmet cooking, wine, and book sites. Look for sites with a large newsletter, forum, blog, or general readership. Offer those sites banner space or editorial mentions in exchange for them spreading the word about your viral campaign. Or offer their readers a discount, upgrade, or free shipping.

Sites of Influence

Find the sites of influence in the neighborhoods of the Web your customers gather. This will be common knowledge for those with in-house SEO.

But what if you're a marketing, PR, or SEO company without much experience in that vertical? Besides the obvious of asking the client which sites have the most influence, there are ways to uncover that information.

Here's one. Over at Quantcast, you can view other sites a person is likely to visit. View Search Engine Watch's results on the right hand side of the page. Now compile the data from several popular sites in the industry to fine tune the data and discover patterns. Much of the data is based on estimates, but it's enough to point you in the right direction.

Once you have this list of sites, don't limit how to get them involved. This could be anything from forming a mutually beneficial partnership to purchasing advertising space. Leverage any preexisting relations the client has with their people.

People of Influence

Getting people of influence to promote a viral campaign can be difficult. Perhaps there are no exciting contacts to leverage. There's nothing wrong with taking the advertising approach, such as paying a blogger to write about the campaign.

Consider offering a product or service in exchange for a mention. For example, offer a travel writer a vacation.

Incentivize It

It's never too late to add some form of incentive to a viral campaign. Don't limit the incentive to financial rewards. Instead, take advantage of people's need for attention and recognition.

Here's an example. Say you're releasing a viral video -- plenty of competition there. Create a contest for the person(s) who creates the best spoof of your campaign, with the prize being you will features them on your site and promote it to bloggers, media, etc. This approach will work better if your site is popular or you have connections to a popular site.

An added benefit is their video might just out perform yours! Creating even more buzz.

Advertise

This is simple, yet often overlooked, because many think advertising and viral are opposites. Advertising is an easy way to make people aware of something.

Take the example above of getting people to spoof your viral video. In order to get people involved they first need to be aware of it. Why not buy advertising space on a popular blog and forum to promote the contest? Run a PPC campaign.

Targeting a local audience? Hire a college student to hand out and post fliers. Pay a popular radio host or disc jockey for a few plugs. Advertise in the free events newspaper. You get the idea.

These are just a few strategies to energize a new viral marketing campaign. With success it will lead to better branding, exposure, and links. The trick is to make people aware of it.


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