Viral Marketing: From Store Wars To Web 2.0
Posted by Brian Kelly on 15 February 2007
The Store Wars Video
I was told about the Store Wars video clip some time ago. If you’ve not seen it, do so – this spoof of Star Wars is very funny and very witty. Unsurprisingly it is also very popular, with YouTube reporting 112,688 views, 162 comments and 1,139 YouTube users listed it in their favourites.
And, on reflection, I’ve been exposed to clever propaganda: the video was produced for the Organic Trade Association in order to promote their views on the importance of organic food. And here am I, distributing their views to possibly new audiences. The Organic Trade Association has been very astute: the video is available from the StoreWars Web site – but who would find that? Instead they provide a Creative Commons licence which allows the video to be redistributed and uploaded to popular Web sites such as YouTube or embedded within Web pages.
The “Web 2.0 The Machine is Us/ing Us” Video
Having recently received a couple of emails about the “Web 2.0 The Machine is Us/ing Us” video clip (and noticed it getting a mention on the Research Information Network blog) it struck me that the IT development community can learn a lot from viral marketing. Although some developers may feel that you can’t put across the complexities of the Web in a 5 minute video clip (with no accompanying commentary!) I think it is clear that the video demonstrates that this can be done. And don’t take my word for it, look at the statistics: a 4 star rating from over 9,000 viewers and over 1,000,000 views with over 12,000 viewers including it in their list of favourites. It has also received over 3,000 comments.
There are other videos available from YouTube about Web 2.0, such as the U Tech Tips Web 2.0 video, which take a more traditional approach – but for me “Web 2.0 The Machine is Us/ing Us” is the real winner (and I love the word play). And I’m not the only one who thinks this, judging by the statistics for the U Tech Tips video.
What are the implications of the popularity of the “Store Wars” and “Web 2.0 The Machine is Us/ing Us” video clips? What can the IT development community learn from this?
Some thoughts for those thinking of exploiting viral marketing approaches to promote your project, service or idea:
- If you’ve a great idea, a great product, a great service, give it away! Let your customers or your users promote the idea for you. A Creative Commons licence can be your friend.
- Beware committee thinking: do you want your idea to be promoted using a worthy but dull approach?
- Be subtle in your use of logos and corporate branding – users may well spot a corporate video for the first frame and not go any further. Why not be subtle – and leave the logo to the final frame (as happens with the Store Wars video)? Or perhaps even have your logo playing a minor cameo role leaving viewers to admire your subtlety (similar to spottting the Alfred Hitchcock in one of his films).
- Encourage discussion: the comments feature on services such as YouTube and Slideshare can help generate a buzz.
- Voting can be useful: people are attracted to what others seem to like.
- You can subvert the “think globally, act locally” mantra: perhaps you should think locally (“my audience is librarians in the UK”) but act globally (“but I’ll put my video on YouTube, as it may well be of interest to a wider audience”).
- A commentary in English is likely to restrict your audience to English speakers. Using music can help to provide exposure to a much wider audience (the “Web 2.0 The Machine is Us/ing Us” provides a good example of this).
- Be flexible: copyright and other legal issues, for example, need not necessarily be insurmountable barriers.
Obvious? Why not view the Ray Of Light video: a great example of a promotional video which shows how popular the St. Joseph Public Library is and how hard-working the staff are. Could you produce something like this in your organisation – or will conservatism inevitably scare you off? Or, on the other hand, as the Going down the YouTubes? posting reports, will copyright owners require such copyrighted materials to be removed? And, if so, would this result in the investment needed to produce such mashups to be written off?
What do you think?