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Viral by design

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  • 1. Viral By Design: A Framework For Creating Viral Messages Behind the Firewall A White Paper by Linda Dulye, President/Founder, Dulye & Co. As communicators chase elusive notions of employee engagement in the About the Author: Linda Dulye is the new social media landscape, we happen upon this even more elusive president and founder of notion of viral communication and wonder how we might inoculate our Dulye & Co., a leading communication programs to drive attention and conversation among our change management communities and business organizations. consultancy based in Warwick, NY. Do you know how to create viral communication? Have you wondered A team of 18 experienced how to instill your communications with that certain infectious quality that professionals located moves them to pass it on to friends and colleagues? “Check this out; they throughout the country, Dulye & Co. specializes finally got it right,” or “You have to watch this,” they may declare, as the in Spectator-Free latest viral message makes its rounds. Workplace ™ Solutions for some of the world’s This paper's objective is to guide you in the process of developing most admired companies, including Lockheed effective viral communications for the corporate communication Martin, Cardinal Health, environment. Tyco, DRS Technologies, Progress Energy and What is a Viral Communication? Novo Nordisk. The firm has received two Gold Quills and a Silver Quill The term viral is usually associated with visual media, particularly video award, including work for and pictures. The barrier to creating and sharing affordable digital HD- Thermo Fisher Scientific quality video was lowered with the introduction of the Flip Mino video and Rolls-Royce. recorder. The Flip has been a tremendous tool for creative communicators, and there are many great examples of using viral video to drive employee engagement. The Deloitte Film Festival (http://bit.ly/CoNgT), an employee contest that showcased employee accomplishments in the workplace, comes to mind, as does Zappos’ 10 Core Values (http://bit.ly/1aN01K) video, which featured entertaining employee stories about why they love to work for the company, and comments about corporate culture from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. How do I create viral communications inside Viral videos run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous—to the the walls of my company? disgusting. When did you first see Susan Boyle (http://bit.ly/TnRKo)? How about the Comcast Cable Technician (http://bit.ly/gO6kT) caught napping on a customer’s couch for an hour? When did you first see the Domino’s crew (http://bit.ly/N36ml) doing disgusting things with food—before or after you heard it on the news? Many videos receive their
  • 2. 15 minutes of fame by accident. These powerful segments beg the question put by communication professionals: How do I position my communications to encourage their viral spread? You Tube is nice, but how do I create viral communications here—behind the firewall—inside the walls of my company (or with your external audience if you’re in a public relations role)? What makes this buzz happen? This leads to a discussion about the definition and common elements of viral communication, and then incorporating these practices into corporate communication strategy. What Makes a Communication Viral? Viral communication By definition, a viral communication is information that gets passed around always involves authentic, informally—the message could originate with mass distribution, but its compelling content— defining quality is the way it is then forwarded from friend to friend or something easily digestible colleague to colleague as an item of interest. and then passed around. Viral communication always involves authentic, compelling content of some sort. The term viral is usually associated with video, or a series of pictures—something easily digestible and then passed around, featuring content that is remarkably interesting or topical, raw—or even shocking—and that grabs the reader’s attention immediately. What Are The Elements (Checklist) of a Viral Communication? The following elements may function as a kind of helpful checklist for creating communications positioned to achieve viral dissemination:  Easily Digestible Content. A common quality of viral communication is easily-digestible content that can be quickly consumed, including a catchy or quirky headline—teaser text—that describes the video content, and what you what you may get out of watching it.  Short-Form Content. Viral communications normally use short- form content. They should be designed to run about the length of television commercial. This is good guidance in terms of attention span. The communication could be shorter, or as long as it takes to get your point across.  Break Up Long Clips. Anything other than short-form content should be broken up into smaller clips. You can view entire episodes of South Park here (http://bit.ly/bXBvtG), or view the Viral communications normally episode guide and watch smaller clips of the show. Notice the ability use short-form content. to blog is built right in—we’ll come back to this. Breaking up longer clips works particularly well with executive speeches, human resources benefits communication, and change communication, where employees may want to drill down to certain excerpt or topical area that pertains to them. Copyright © 2010 Dulye & Co. Viral By Design www.dulye.com, 845-987-7744 Page 2
  • 3.  Leave Selling or Branding Message To The End. The message must engage effortlessly and stand on its own. Trying to “sell” too early generally has an adverse effect on viral quality. The content must have intrinsic value and be entertaining or vitally interesting without any manipulation —your call to action/branding should be reserved until the end.  Thought You Might Enjoy. Pre-populating the subject and content of a viral message you want forwarded with “thought you might enjoy;” “mail to: fill in friend’s name,” is another practical tip you may wish to incorporate. Trying to “sell” too early has an adverse effect  Use Two-Way Dialoguing/Comment Capability That Caters to on viral quality. Corporate Culture: As mentioned earlier with the South Park video, viral communications must have easy access to other social media platforms that enable conversation and two-way engagement. Is instant messaging the communication tool of choice at your company? Does video communication on the company portal or intranet hold sway, or how about wikis or blogs? Furnish quick and easy access to these channels to seed viral engagement.  Message Forwarding: As opposed to mass messages, viral messages are usually forwarded on from friend to friend or colleague to colleague. Know your audience and try to find the “what’s in it for me” content value proposition. Use your own judgment: Would you want to forward this message on? Why would your audience care to forward this message on?  HTML E-mail Delivery/Distribution with Embedded Video Link. The html e-mail provides required formatting capabilities needed and not normally available through text, such as the ability to embed video links.  Video Still Frame. Visually, the html e-mail must feature an interesting video still frame picture with an embedded “play” arrow. The video is not to play inside the e-mail, but should link seamlessly Viral communications must to a web-landing page, where the video may be viewed. have easy access to other social media platforms that  Stimulate Two-Way Dialogue Through Strategic Call to Action: enable conversation and two-way engagement. Although calls to action are normally left to the end of the viral message, a request to reply back to the sender—a call to action to vote or provide an opinion— tends to make the message more personal and tends to build rapport. This must be fine tuned and calibrated to your organizational culture, using the two-way social media tools at your disposal, such as blogs, micro-blogs (Twitter/Yammer), IM, or the intranet.  Seeding Comments to Start the Buzz: Message or line of business champions may sometimes influence the viral quality of message by weighing in themselves on a posted video or set of pictures. If it would be inappropriate for you to weigh-in, then don’t. But it’s something to consider. Your honest enthusiasm and vibrancy about the message could be contagious and help get the ball rolling. Copyright © 2010 Dulye & Co. Viral By Design www.dulye.com, 845-987-7744 Page 3
  • 4. A Word About Metrics and Viral Communication Metrics: Establish a single location web landing page to post viral content. Concentrate as much if not all of the traffic to a single web landing page to pull down analytics. Similar to the way URL shorteners such as bit.ly work, you should ensure that all traffic goes to the same measurement place. Concentrate all viral attention on a single web page. Viral Communication Metrics: Use html e-mail marketing metrics to track click-throughs. You Measurement original e-mail list may have only 206 recipients. By using e-mail marketing contact management systems like iContact you can view click-throughs (tracking the recipient’s e-mail id) to know who passed the message on. Identifying who passed it on provides a view to who is engaged—and more important, helps identify the influencers in your organization. Metrics: Create unique URL crafted for each internal communication channel to track effectiveness of distribution. When using various Gauge the effectiveness communication channels like IM, micro-blogs (Twitter/Yammer), and intranet of your viral campaign by portals, you can gauge the effectiveness of your viral campaign by customizing customizing the links used for the links used for every communication channel. It may be the same message, every communication channel. but did they access it via e-mail, through an embedded IM or through a Twitter link? You’ll know how many people viewed the message and by which channel, so you’ll know which ones work best. Metrics: Facilitate forwarding in a subtle way that enhances measurement and metrics. This concept is embodied by the Share on Facebook button/link at the end of most blogs. Again, this action will vary by corporate culture—it may be Share on IM (embed link inside IM post), or Share on Yammer (embed the link inside the micro-blog post). Optimize e-mail and web landing pages for easy sharing. Build buttons that makes it easy to share via email and IM. You Tube, for example, makes this easy and they capture the additional metric of how many people shared the viral communication on Facebook. You can do the same. Where Can I Get More Help Creating a Viral Communication? Founded in 1998, Dulye & Co. is a change management consultancy specializing in high-impact workplace communications, including social media and intranet communication solutions that drive engagement and bottom-line results. Our experienced professional can guide you through the viral communication process to deliver a customized solution that works best for your organization. Research and experience tell us that most corporate organizations are filled with untapped potential and misdirected energies due to inconsistent, infrequent and unclear communications within and between layers, locations For more information you and departments. may contact us via chat from our website at www.dulye.com Our Spectator-Free Workplace™ solutions and tools have dramatically or through e-mail at improved workforce performance by increasing knowledge, trust and contact@dulye.com, or employee engagement—in turn, helping our clients achieve measured phone at 845-987-7744. results in service delivery, quality, retention and productivity. Please consider sending a note about how this paper has helped you. Please contact us for a cost-free consultation concerning your communication needs. Copyright © 2010 Dulye & Co. Viral By Design www.dulye.com, 845-987-7744 Page 4