According to a recent survey by MarketingSherpa, the number one use of viral marketing for B2C marketers is to build brand awareness. It is less about making the sale, building an email list, and increasing web traffic to the official site – though these are valuable side effects.
Viral marketing works best when all reigns are let loose – something even the visionaries in the corporate world are hesitant to do, or are unable to because of restraints from higher up.
The concern is usually over maintaining the brand image – the very thing viral marketing is best at promoting – but letting loose can be an uncomfortable process for many brand managers, at best.
The most successful tool in the last couple of years has been the Minisite.
Minisites give brands the chance to separate themselves from the parent company and connect with consumers on a more personal level.
It is the chance for the brand to show off their personality, be a bit quirky, and invite consumers to endorse them without feeling like they are being confronted with a hard sell.
Take Brawny’s “Innocent Escapes” viral piece from last year, for example:
It succeeds in mastering a few tough ingredients:
- The Entertainment Element
- The Pass-Along Factor
It also includes the second most popular, and rapidly ubiquitous tool – Video.
It is engaging enough that people will want to email it to their friends. In a world where consumers are increasingly selective of what is allowed in their inbox, passing this test is half the battle in any form of email marketing.
The key here for the corporate client is to cater not only to their current audience, but to their anticipated, or desired audience.
Brawny’s market is 25-40 year old women. This doesn’t quite match up to the typical viewer of viral content but by creating a piece that is humorous and so unlike anything you would expect from a paper towel company, they were able to reach a much wider audience and gain brand credibility among a younger demographic – their future users.
Minisites are a little like teaching a child how to ride a bike and giving them the final “push off” to being their own person in the world. They look different, they talk different, but there is always that supportive shoulder to lean on. Minisites always have a link to the official site buried somewhere on their page, and if it’s a good piece of viral marketing, that link will come in handy because consumers will want to know exactly who is behind that email all their friends are forwarding to them!
Photo by duff_sf on Flickr