Going viral: tips to start trending.

Viral videos have become the rage within the past few years. And with more than 4 billion views on YouTube each day, the opportunity for exposure is tremendous. I like how this graphic represents how viral messages spread:


So, what is the best way to make a viral video? Is it all luck?

Mekanism, an award winning creative agency that has created viral campaigns for clients such as Pepsi, Virgin Mobile, Axe and 20th Century Fox, says it’s not blind luck and provides the following philosophy formula for success:

1. Their philosophy for viral marketing is “Candy with the Medicine.” The candy is the entertainment, and the medicine is the message.

2. Their formula for success is ‘people + platform x snowball effect = results.’ Viral ads can be created, but they take some serious planning.

a. People are the influencers in social media who have relevant audiences. Basically, it’s where you put your ad to get exposure to the masses.

b. The platform is more than just thinking ‘YouTube.’ It’s understanding how to use that medium. Mekanism knows that there are 10 categories within YouTube, and that the top videos from each of these categories will be featured on the home page and browse page of YouTube. For instance, they uploaded their Hovercat ad in the ‘pets and animals’ category in order to capitalize on the fact that only 150,000 views would be needed to make the leader board as opposed to the 1 million needed to make the comedy or entertainment leader board.

c. Snowball effect (once things get rolling – keep them rolling) refers to having a post launch plan to keep momentum.

But, is viral marketing becoming more effective than traditional media? In the mobile world, should we start focusing on this more?

Kimberly Stone, founder of POSHGLAM.com, disagrees. She states, “the online presence should act as an extension to already existing marketing messages, not the end-all be-all.”

Her advice is to consider every other aspect of the marketing mix first and to plan the social media campaign as a compliment to existing communications.

How much of your marketing efforts do you think should focus on viral?


Google it: how to get on the first page.

I must admit, I say this phrase more times than I should. It’s my ‘go to’ for questions posed to me that I don’t know the answer to, or for when I tell someone to ‘Google it’ if they don’t believe me on a topic, ha. But, Google has also lost me as many friendly bets as it has won.

Over the past year, Google and I have forged an even stronger friendship, as I head to the site regularly to research information for coursework. One thing that is always frustrating is how Wikipedia is always one of the first sites on the main results page. For academic purposes, it’s a completely wasted entry on the page.

However, businesses can stand to learn from Wikipedia’s ability to get on the first page of results.


Why is it so important to elicit a top result? Sixty-two percent of search engine users click only on the results that appear on the first search engine results page and less than 10 percent of users click on results that appear after the third page.

So, how is Wikipedia successful? It turns out Wikipedia has the best set of search engine optimization (SEO) fundamentals on the Web. SEO is a collection of techniques a Webmaster can use to improve his or her site’s search engine return pages (SERP). Most search engines also use computer programs called spiders or crawlers to search the Web and analyze individual pages, and these programs read Web pages and index them according to the terms that show up often and in important sections of the page. Additionally, there are many tricks (e.g. keyword usage) you can use to get your page higher to the top of the first page of results. I realize this is an oversimplification of the process, but it provides a place to start for those who might want to look into the practice more.

The irony in Wikipedia’s case is that as long as the site captures such high rankings on search result pages, there is incentive for spammers to spam Wikipedia with their links and for search engine optimizers to edit Wikipedia for their own interests.

If you were Wikipedia, or any business for that matter, would you rather have more views or lower risk for compromise? Competitors will always try and take down the top – it’s not always easy being the king, ha.


Drones: not just for killing any more.

When people think of drones, I’m guessing the first thought/image that comes to mind is the CIA using them to kill the bad guys.


But, tacos are the first things that come to mind for me after reading about the Tacocopter a couple of years ago. Before the Federal Aviation Administration put an end to the operation, Tacocopter was able to deliver food right to your location. Here’s a funny/oversimplified visual:


All you had to do was order from your smartphone and beam up your GPS location in order for the Tacocopter to deliver where you were standing. Yes! You didn’t even have to be at home!

The use of domestic drones has many advantages. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has allowed drones to be used domestically for years for environmental monitoring, firefighting, disaster relief and search and rescue. The Department of Homeland Security uses them to monitor borders and ports.

The FAA released its road map to set the commercial use, state for law enforcement agencies, businesses, universities, and hobbyists to fly drones inside the U.S. by 2015. But as of yesterday, The FAA is “significantly behind schedule” in its attempt to meet Congress’ September 2015 deadline for integrating commercial drones into U.S. airspace.

So, what does this mean for advertisers? Well for one, I see a lot of ad space once their commercial use is finalized. I also see great potential in direct marketing initiatives. They could even work in research. Want someone to test your product and provide feedback? Just send a drone over once they sign up. Maybe even send a gift along for participating.

What (if any) possibilities do you see for drones in marketing?

Brainstorming: alone or in a group?

One thing I’m always intrigued about is the brainstorming process. Specifically, is it better to brainstorm in a group setting, or to brainstorm alone and then bring your ideas to the group? I’ve always thought that the group concept was the way to do things. This way you can bounce ideas off of one another. However, I’ve found research suggesting the opposite.

According to studies by psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Fiest, people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. Also, their study finds that the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are introverted. They highlight that solitude provides a space for focusing on the task at hand without distraction, thus more productivity and innovation. I wouldn’t have guessed that either.

Other issues with team sessions are the social pressures inherent in a group setting. “People in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others’ opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure,” said Csikszentmihalyi and Fiest.

I know we’ve all been in many, many group sessions. And, we all know how certain people take over the meetings while others remain innocent bystanders. So, if you find yourself in charge of planning a group session, how should you plan the meeting to ensure greater success?

An article in the Harvard Business Review suggests you structure the meeting to ensure social norms work for you, not against you by following these steps:

1. First, break down the group (their example uses a 20-person group) into groups of four. In any group of four, the social norm is for everyone to participate, so no one can hide without seeming uncooperative.

2. If there are five subgroups instead of one combined group, five people rather than just one are offering their ideas at any given time.

3. Put all those pushy people who feel compelled to dominate the discussion in the same group. That will prevent them from silencing the 16 people in the other groups.

But, I also agree with the one of the authors that this does not mean that there is no remaining need for group work. As Susan Cain of the New York Times states, “the problems we face in science, economics and many other fields are more complex than ever before, and we’ll need to stand on one another’s shoulders if we can possibly hope to solve them.”

How are you most creative? With others or by yourself?


How close are you to your brand?

In marketing, businesses are always trying to create a strong relationship with their consumers. And not just on a superficial level, but an emotional one.

emotional branding

Emotional branding seeks to build a strong emotional connection between the brand and the consumer. “And that’s the object of emotional branding: to fill the empty places where non-commercial institutions, like schools and churches, might once have done the job” said Douglas Rushkoff, writer and correspondent for PBS’s Frontline.

Although emotional branding is one of the latest trends for building brand equity, does that make it the best way to do things? I’ve seen both sides of the coin in my research. It works really well for some (e.g., Subaru’s ‘Love’ campaign), but not so well for others.

For instance, “There are a few examples when advertising really does cast a Svengali spell. AT&T has done it. Hallmark has done it. Coca-Cola has done it,” said Bob Garfield, columnist at Advertising Age. “But most of the people who’ve tried to make emotional connections with consumers over the years – by far the vast, vast majority – have failed. They’ve gone down in flames.”

And, Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, isn’t sold on the practice either. “When you listen to brand managers talk, you can get quite carried away in this idea that they actually are fulfilling these needs that we have for community and narrative and transcendence. But in the end, it is, you know, a laptop and a pair of running shoes,” said Klein. “And they might be great, but they’re not actually going to fulfill those needs, but which serves them very well because, of course, that means that you have to go shopping again.”

In conclusion, I think emotional branding can be very powerful, but it must be done the right way. Otherwise, there’s no real point of even trying.

If any, what brands are you emotionally tied to and why?


Do you know the status of your brand?

In class this week, our professor highlighted one of her lectures that discussed personal brands. In her discussion, Dr. Edmiston mentioned “Googling youself.” Here is an appropriate picture I found that supports her main her points:


I’m not above this practice. I’ve Googled myself before. Yes, I admit it. But, it’s really a rare occurrence. Why so rare? Well, I don’t ever really post anything on social media. All of my search results come up empty. It’s really a boring exercise. And, I actually like it that way.

But for future opportunities, people must be aware of how they are perceived online. More and more, employers are screening you employment-potential through your social media footprint. So, what are these hiring managers looking for? Sixty-five percent of hiring managers use their social searches to see if the applicant “presents him-or herself professionally.” Half used the sites to determine if the person would be a good fit with the company’s culture, and 45 percent wanted to learn more about the candidates’ qualifications.

Kevin Keller writes in his book, Strategic Brand Management, that personal brands can be difficult to keep consistent. “A person brand can have many facets, and many interactions and experiences with many different people over time, all adding to the complexity of brand management,” says Keller. So, you must be aware that your personal brand does have an impact on your professional one.

The biggest tip I take from Keller is that a personal brand must live up to the brand promise (aka how you want to be perceived to others) at all times. He says, “Reputations and brands are built over years but can be harmed or even destroyed in days.” My personal philosophy is, “only post something I wouldn’t mind my kids or grandmother to seeing.” It’s kept me safe so far, ha.

What do you find when you Google yourself?

Is there a tipping point?

Are there too many social media Web sites out there? I mean considering daily obligations, there comes a point where you just don’t have enough time in the day “follow” every site you are interested in. In 2014, there are 1.82 billion social network users worldwide. On top of that business are in the game as well. For instance, 89 percent of companies use Facebook, and 88 percent use Twitter.

This paints a clear picture of why communicators are beginning to discuss “social media fatigue.” And, it is becoming increasingly apparent with Facebook. In Australia alone, almost 400,000 users drifted away from the Web site in 2013. And overall, 61 percent of Facebook users will take a break from the site for several weeks or more. The thing surprising to me is that it’s hitting the young adult demographic as well.

Facebook Fatigue

Why is this happening? My take is that social media has blended too much into corporations. Meaning, I think the original purpose of social media was to help us connect with one another. Especially when we are geographically separated from the ones we love. But, corporations realized they could easily use this platform to target consumers. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it is people at the corporations who have to create content. So, they not only are on these sites to connect with loved ones, they now have to be on them for work. The last thing I would want to do is get on Facebook after being on it all day for work. You need that separation – for your sanity!

Have you taken break lately?


Google Glass in sports? I’m interested.

From what I can see, Google Glass has the ability to provide access to areas that sports fans have never seen before. And, I think it’s time fans have access to the first person, not just the third.


Currently, sports fans have the option of receiving their latest news, scores, and updates from their favorite team, whenever they desire with Google Glass. But, this is no different than mobile apps that provide the same service.

This is where amateur and professional sports organizations have the chance to be truly innovative. Google Glass can be worn by professional athletes, and their experiences can be shared with their fans. For instance, bowling fans were able to observe bowling through the eyes of professional bowler Jason Belmonte during professional competition.

So, this is where I get selfish. As mentioned before, I’m a huge college football fan. And, I think my favorite team should provide this technology to its players to record their in-game and out-of-game (practice, weights, etc.) experiences. Of course there are obvious rules and regulations that may inhibit its use during actual games, and footage should always be censored before release. But, just imagine being able to see exactly what your favorite players see on and off the field – even if it is only practice plays.

This interaction will create massive buzz in the football fan community. “The easiest way to create sharability is to give people an experience,” says Franz Aliquo, creative director at ad agency RPM. “Something that turns their mundane day-to-day into something magical.”

The wearable technology trend is just now emerging, and sports organizations have an opportunity to be an innovators if they act now. I, for one, certainly hope they adapt sooner than later.


Exciting times for marketing.

The advances of technology have certainly opened up the doors for marketing possibilities. My favorite one comes from Apple. The company recently submitted a patent application for technology that could make inferences about people’s mood in real time.

Apple is trying to figure out how a person is feeling at any given moment, and target content – ads – to be delivered at the right time and place. This is amazing to me. I’m assuming that the technology will allow consumers to be able to request information that fits their needs/desires as well. For instance, I’m a huge college football fan. And, let’s say that I’ll be able to request ads/news about my favorite sports team whenever I’m bored or agitated. Or, I could even request them when I’m feeling down. This way I’ll be provided with a little pick-me-up. I’d feel like this guy:


Another powerful effect of emerging media is how instantaneous it is. Soon we will start to see content influenced by real-time social data and insights, which condense the research process into minutes, not weeks. The voices of the masses will become increasingly harder to ignore. The possibility for social change will increase. Just look at all of the states where social media campaigns have helped the legalization of same-sex marriages.

We shouldn’t be expected to be experts in all of the latest trends, as constant advances in technology make it nearly impossible. But, we should incorporate as much as we can into our practices.


Should marketers mind their own business?

I must admit, I’m torn with the notion of highly-targeted ads. On one hand, I feel they make shopping and browsing easier. On the other, I feel they are too intrusive and limit my searches. After all, I don’t want to be limited to what some algorithm thinks I want to see. I mean, does this computer think it knows me? My choices are not so predictable, and I’m a little insulted, ha.

It turns out I’m not alone in that sentiment. Seventy-three percent of people polled in a 2012 Pew Internet & American Life survey feel search engines that keep track of preferences and gather information to personalize future results are invading their privacy . And in the same study, 65 percent of people believe personalized search features, such as those offered by Google and Microsoft’s Bing, may limit the results offered by the search engine. It’s clear that I’m in the majority, right?

As Lee Corso would say, “not so fast my friend.”


Maybe my age (33) is starting to show. It turns out that the millennials — the primary users of mobile non-voice services — are as unnerved to be disconnected as boomers and Gen Xers loathe to be too connected. .

I guess it comes down to acceptance. It bothers me because I feel like I’m being type-casted by marketers who I feel don’t know the slightest thing about me. But in reality, they know a lot more than I think. It’s just sort of a downer realizing your “free will” is so predictable.