All About Content

Birth of a Viral Campaign

Posted by Melanie Phung on Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Doesn’t it seem like there was a time — somewhere between Mahir (“WELCOME TO MY HOME PAGE !!!!!!!!!I KISS YOU !!!!!”) and [anything] on YouTube — when you didn’t get inundated with the same forwarded email from at least half a dozen of your friends telling you about “funniest thing you’ve ever seen”? Probably because that’s when the effects of Bubble 1.0 were really starting to hit home and the dot-commers didn’t have time for such inanity. Not that I have nostalgia for the bad old days of the recession, but …

Inanity abounds again, via content sharing sites like Digg and YouTube, etc. As a marketer, I always wonder, without fail, “how in the world did that become such a hit?” The answer seems to be two-fold. If you want something to spread across the Internet like wild fire, it needs to be 1) ridiculous and 2) photo documented.

What prompts this post? None other than a joke played by a bunch of pranksters at InPhonic, which has become a pretty hot topic in the Blogosphere, as far as these things go. The tale of what happens when you take a half a dozen employees, someone’s precious Jaguar, and 14,000 Post-It notes has been blogged in at least half a dozen languages.

InPhonic Post-It Note Jaguar Prank

Seriously? This is viral material? I can swear with 100% confidence that this was never intended to be anything more than a practical joke on a particular InPhonic employee. The photos were published to Flickr in the hopes that the joke’s target would find them before he went down to the parking garage — that’s it. Yet this non-story about the prank’s popularity has been on the ABC World News homepage for 3 days, For God’s Sake!

(Note for those who are still keeping score: It would not be an exaggeration to say that being one of the top stories on ABC’s homepage was meaningless in terms of traffic and popularity next to to getting to the homepages of Digg or Boing Boing. New Media definitely wins this round in the ongoing battle of New Media versus Old Media.)

Take-aways:
– do something unique and unrelated to any product or promotion
– the more ridiculous, the better
– take photos and videos!! (and be sure to assign Creative Commons licensing)
– don’t use your own bandwidth, host on a third-party platform
– share!

Oh yeah, and if you enjoy the photos and want to blog about this yourself, be a dear and link back to Scott’s Flickr page in your post.

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