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The "Viral" Trap: Why "viral" marketing campaigns often fail to hit the mark
The "Viral" Trap: Why "viral" marketing campaigns often fail to hit the mark
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The "Viral" Trap: Why "viral" marketing campaigns often fail to hit the mark

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With the community aspects of social networks not as robust as widely assumed, the odds of creating a successful, awareness-boosting "viral" marketing campaign today are very low. Marketers looking to …

With the community aspects of social networks not as robust as widely assumed, the odds of creating a successful, awareness-boosting "viral" marketing campaign today are very low. Marketers looking to achieve growth in this challenging economic environment are better served investing elsewhere.

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  • 1. Ryan McConnell Ryan.McConnell@thefuturescompany.com January 17, 2012The “Viral” TrapWhy “viral” marketing campaigns often fail to hit the markThe Bottom Line With the community aspects of social networks not as robust as widely assumed, the odds of creating a successful, awareness-boosting “viral” marketing campaign today are very low. Marketers looking to achieve growth in this challenging economic environment are better served investing elsewhere.At the Root Positive “sharing” about brands is Marketing messages are rarely “Oversharing” is frowned upon relatively rare seen as relevant Just 19% of social networking users 56% of consumers agree, “More and 84% of social networking users agree, indicate that they have ever posted a more, people are giving me too much “Very few of the advertisements I see on positive comment about an experience information about themselves and their social networking websites have any with a company online. 1 lives.” 1 relevance to me.” 1Telling the Story The dream of marketing on social networking sites is seductive: Create a message that resonates with just one person and watch that message spread exponentially throughout the network, where it’s more likely to be trusted and acted upon than traditional marketing. It’s little wonder, then, that, according to a recent study by Booz & Company, social spending is expected to rise sharply in the next three years. The reality of achieving viral success on this medium, however, is far more difficult than it appears. Why? For one, as the 2011 Yankelovich Social Media Study shows, sharing in most social networks is not as widespread as perhaps is presumed; 60% of Facebook users, for instance, say they update their status “every few weeks” or Check out our recent Futures Perspective, “less often” and less than one-fourth (23%) of social networking users indicate that “Status Update” to learn about the six "pivot online social networks deliver a “real sense of belonging or community.” And with points" shaping the future of the social networking marketplace.
  • 2. relatively few social networking users interested in “spreading the gospel” about brands to their friends, acquaintances and outer circle, it’s no surprise that research shows that very few messages on social networking sites make it past one’s immediate followers. Of course, the underwhelming community features of today’s social networks don’t mean that all viral efforts are doomed to failure; in fact, as a review of the top viral hits over the past five years shows, social networking users tend to share Just 17% of consumers agree that technology entertaining content that is light, humorous and emotional. Yet, with very long odds “helps me feel like I am part of a of achieving a viral hit, the investment should be viewed more as a lottery ticket than community” (ranked 12 of 13 in the battery of a realistic growth strategy. questions)Taking Action for Growth Take a clear view of the limitations If viral marketing remains the goal, For social networking success, of marketing on social networking focus on light and entertaining think retention over acquisition sites content While the promise of a viral hit is vast, While acquiring new customers can be Social networking users are often the conditions on social networking sites a more attractive, motivating goal, seeking a light, fun and entertaining today make achieving such success Zappos, Best Buy and others have experience on their networks and are highly improbable. demonstrated that the most effective likely to share content that reinforces investment in social networking this mindset. Zeroing in on the nexus marketing has been found in customer between your brand promise and the service rather than in building entertainment aspects of the message awareness. should be the goal.1 Source: Yankelovich MONITOR 2011 Social Networking Study Click for printable PDF version © 2011 by The Futures Company

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