Going viral behind the firewall: a framework for viral communications


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Going viral behind the firewall: a framework for viral communications

  1. 1. Going viralbehind the firewall Viral by Design:A Framework for Creating Viral Messages Behind the FirewallLinda Dulye, President/Founder, Dulye & Co.47275753244850 <br />As communicators chase elusive notions of employee engagement in the new social media landscape, we happen upon this even more elusive notion of viral communication and wonder how we might inoculate our communication programs to drive attention and conversation among our communities and business organizations.<br />Do you know how to create viral communication? Have you wondered how to instill your communications with that certain infectious quality that moves them to pass it on to friends and colleagues? “Check this out; they finally got it right,” or “You have to watch this,” they may declare, as the latest viral message makes its rounds.<br />This paper's objective is to guide you in the process of developing effective viral communications for the corporate communication environment.<br />What is a Viral Communication?<br />How do I create viral communications inside the walls of my company?4664075622300The term viral is usually associated with visual media, particularly video and pictures. The barrier to creating and sharing affordable digital HD-quality video was lowered with the introduction of the Flip Mino video 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.<br />1211580975995Viral videos run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous—to the 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 15 minutes of fame by accident. These powerful segments beg the question put by communication professionals:<br />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. <br />What Makes a Communication Viral? <br />By definition, a viral communication is information that gets passed around informally—the message could originate with mass distribution, but its defining quality is the way it is then forwarded from friend to friend or colleague to colleague as an item of interest. <br />Viral communication always involves authentic, compelling content-something easily digestible and then passed around.<br />355917569850Viral 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.<br />What Are The Elements (Checklist) of a Viral Communication? <br />The following elements may function as a kind of helpful checklist for creating communications positioned to achieve viral dissemination:<br />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.<br />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.<br />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 episode guide and watch smaller clips of the show. Notice the ability 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.<br />-555787318770Leave 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. <br />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.<br />Use Two-Way Dialoguing/Comment Capability That Caters to 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.<br />Viral communication must have easy access to other social media platforms that enable conversation and two-way 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?<br />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.<br />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 to a web-landing page, where the video may be viewed.<br />4147185784225Stimulate Two-Way Dialogue Through Strategic Call to Action: 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.<br />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.<br />A Word About Metrics and Viral Communication<br />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. <br />Gauge the effectiveness of your viral campaign by customizing the links used for every communication channel.<br />Use html e-mail marketing metrics to track click-throughs: You 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.<br />Create unique URL crafted for each internal communication channel to track effectiveness of distribution: When using various communication channels like IM, micro-blogs (Twitter/Yammer), and intranet portals, you can gauge the effectiveness of your viral campaign by customizing the links used for every communication channel. It may be the same message, 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. <br />For more information you may contact us via chat from our website at www.Dulye.comor through e-mail at contact@dulye.com, or phone at845-987-7744.Please consider sending a note about how this paper hashelped you.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. <br />-525780281940Where Can I Get Expert Help Creating a Viral Communication?<br />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. <br />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 and departments.<br />Our Spectator-Free Workplace™ solutions and tools have dramatically improved workforce performance by increasing knowledge, trust and employee engagement—in turn, helping our clients achieve measured results in service delivery, quality, retention and productivity. <br />Please contact us for a cost-free consultation concerning your communication needs.<br />-436435147955About the Author:<br />Linda Dulye is the president and founder of Dulye & Co., a leading change management consultancy based in Warwick, NY.<br />A team of 18 experienced professionals located throughout the country, Dulye & Co. specializes in Spectator-Free Workplace ™ Solutions for some of the world’s most admired companies, including Lockheed Martin, Cardinal Health, Tyco, DRS Technologies, Progress Energy and Novo Nordisk. The firm has received two Gold Quills and a Silver Quill award, including work for Thermo Fisher Scientific and Rolls-Royce.<br />