Search What are you looking for?

SES SJ: Igniting Viral Campaigns: Leveraging Consumer-Generated Content

Posted on Aug 12th, 2009
In this article

    Ready to elevate your B2B brand?

    TopRank Marketing drives results with content, influencer, SEO & social media marketing.

    Being somewhat of a fan of buzz marketing, day two starts with a panel I’ve personally been looking forward to.  Igniting Viral Campaigns:  Leveraging Consumer-Generated Content promises to unveil the “secret techniques” and technologies that enable companies to stand out and be talked about through a viral word of mouth buzz.

    Aaron Kahlow, Chairman & Founder, Online Marketing Summit moderates this panel of speakers:

    • Brian Ellefritz, Senior Manager, Social Media Marketing, Cisco Systems
    • Matthew Liu, Product Manager, YouTube Sponsored Videos
    • Greg Finn, Director of Internet Marketing, 10e20
    • Barbara Coll, CEO, Inc.
    • Bill Leake, President and CEO, Apogee Search

    Will they give away their secret sauce?

    Each presenter shared a presentation, and following all 5 was a quick Q&A:

    Bill Leake, President and CEO, Apogee Search

    Bill started by talking about the integration of the ideas of “paid vs. earned” media.  Concerning money spent on viral campaigns/social media at the high level there is the philosophical gap.  Ad agencies are quite good about spending lots of money to drive traffic to ideas they create.  PR firms are good at the idea of earned media.  Unfortunately PR firms also sometimes have blinders on at the idea of paid media.

    One of the things search is great at is dealing with the issues of “need.”  Search is not necessarily the best aspect of marketing, it intersects with need but it doesn’t necessarily build trust.  Social media can help bridge that.  That’s because reviews and consumer voice have a lot more credibility.

    Viral growth is a “reverse long tail” – it takes a long time to take off, but when it takes off, it takes off fast.  If you are trying to make something viral, you need enough people infected to get the idea spreading.

    Greg Finn, Director of Internet Marketing, 10e20

    Greg decided to give us some tips/tricks to start.  He shared a few archetypes of sharable content, including:

    • Humor
    • Educational resources
    • Step by steps
    • How to’s
    • Breaking info, leaks

    He also discussed how to make this content be successful, such as:

    • Ensure proper formatting of content, that it is easy to consume, that it is extremely visual.  Also look for a social tone – make sure that it’s not too corporate.
    • Consider the medium for success: identify an audience you can harness by finding a network where that content will resonate.  If you can brand it and put it into that network they will do the work for you.
    • Social news is a vital channel – it is news by the people, for the people.  It’s a starting point for so many bloggers and web influencers you are going to see a lot of links and traffic if your content goes hot.  Also, make sure you are a part of the community to participate.

    Advice for specific networks:

    Digg: it’s not just for games and gadgets.

    StumbleUpon: a possibility for all viral content – has every niche.  Make sure you use proper category, be as specific as possible

    Reddit: use subreddits that are specific, even if they are less popular because this is a hotbed for early adopters.

    Social news and networking: it’s much more than Twitter and Facebook.  Look at forums, look at niche blogs and uncover those smaller communities.

    In reference to social sharing, consider cross-promoting:  put Digg links in Facebook or StumbleUpon links in Twitter.

    Matthew Liu, Product Manager, YouTube Sponsored Videos

    Not all viral videos are the same.  They do just happen…”sometimes” 100% organically but are unlikely to occur for your brand.

    Viral videos can be created through the idea of “free” marketing, in that the channel is unpaid.  Two methods:

    1)  Guerilla marketing: use subtle branding and stealth marketing efforts, seed to news sites, blogs, use social media to fan the flames.

    2)  Explicit marketing: marketing directly to the audience you are interested in.  Engage in a very specific dialogue with the community.

    Viral video through paid marketing:

    Pay for views, something that “pours fuel on the fire.”  You can do things like buy placement on the homepage and get reach at scale instantly.  This is a way to help kick-off interesting content.

    Secret sauce: a potential formula to make good content go viral:

    • Seed video initially, start an organic buzz
    • Promote content through grassroots tactics
    • Then pull the trigger and pay to place video on page one of YouTube for massive exposure and can reach a synergistic effect.

    Video SEO best practices

    Title: make sure to include an accurate and descriptive title

    Description: provide strong content that is descriptive, accurate and unique – spend time here, don’t rush.

    Tags: include highly descriptive tags, don’t keyword stuff with unrelated terms.  YouTube actively penalizes people who spam the system.

    Community opinion: share videos with members of the community, engage in dialogues with them.  Experiment with responses, annotations and thumbnails.

    Embeds: embed videos on Web pages you own that get traffic to make your videos more discoverable

    Barbara Coll, CEO, Inc.

    Watch reviews, they can compile quickly and they show negative reviews fast.  Get the user-generated content to go positive by responding.

    Constantly feed the “search beasts” by asking the community to get involved.

    Provide the community content, engage the community and then spread the word, suggest an action.  This creates new content for the engines to come and find.

    Brian Ellefritz, Senior Manager, Social Media Marketing, Cisco Systems

    Brian had a problem with marketing for Cisco:  nothing to talk about, no content, they can’t disclose anything.  What they realized is instead of talking about the company, they could get users to talk about a problem.

    They created a contest which allowed users to enter a video contest called “digital cribs” sharing a story about a problem due to networking.  Submit a 3 minute video, get a 10K prize. Their fear was no one would submit anything, but in the end were extremely happy with the results.

    How did they achieve them?

    • Don’t scrimp:  Two $10K prizes and $500 gift cards
    • Consumers had to share and promote their own videos to get views (engaging people’s networks)
    • Other integrated promotions:  paid search, banners, incentives
    • Blog outreach to connect with relevant bloggers


    More than 50 videos submitted, 60,000 video views, 15,000 comments

    Questions and answers:

    What is the most necessary element to go viral?

    Need to get the technology right – if your blogs aren’t following best practices you won’t get found.

    Can you be edgier, take risks with your content?  15 hours of video uploaded each minute to YouTube – you have to stand out.

    Social media isn’t the number of followers you have, take a strategic approach and having the right people reading your material.

    How can you optimize viral traffic for conversions?

    Consistency – keep at it and go popular multiple times in the social web.  The name recognition will eventually work for you.

    How to start if you are new?

    Start by listening and paying attention, look at what the market is doing.  Look at the communities that are already built and see how you can engage with them.

    Aaron Kahlow, Chairman & Founder, Online Marketing Summit

    Learn social media marketing and search engine strategies from 2009 SES SJ coverage by TopRank Online Marketing