It’s not that long ago that if you told a smaller business operator that they had great viral, they’d be heading straight to the local GP for a checkup.
But these days, great viral is your passport to serious online success.
As the name suggests, ‘viral’ marketing effects occur when people spread news of your business, brand, product or service to others.
Type 1 Viral – Human Dissemination
In the old days this used to happen as word of mouth spread from one person to another by way of media, conversation and one to one communications like phone and mail.
But these days, everyone with an email account and/or a social networking page is a broadcaster, giving ‘viral’ a whole new meaning.
Throw mass dissemination tools like Youtube and Twitter into the mix and you get a recipe for the perfect viral storm.
Lets call this human-generated dissemination ‘Type 1 Viral’
But the fun doesn’t end there.
Type 2 Viral – Search Engine Dissemination
The automatic crawling and trawling of your online content by search engines is another related form of viral too as well placed content tends to filter out to an even wider audience.
So really, your online content gets several bites at the cherry, or what I’ve referred to in these pages as your viral ‘funnel’.
Here’s how it works.
Step 1 – Create compelling content
First you come up with a piece of valuable and compelling content. If you are in an information-rich field like health, technology, business, fashion or entertainment, there will be no shortage of information that you can report, analyse or interpret.
In the past this used to be known as ‘newsworthiness’ – a measure of just how much the media would value the content you are providing in order to write a story or mention it on air.
Alternatively, you can make information about your products newsworthy by emphasising a benefit, reducing its price or bundling it with other products.
This approach is the stuff of the current deal craze as typified by the Cudos, Scoopons and Spreets of the world. By providing a big enough discount, you attract the attention of readers or viewers who in turn tell their friends with a tap of a few keys.
Step 2 – Add it to your website
Once you have come up with some juicy content, next step is to put it on your website. This gets the search engine robots and spiders a-crawlin on your site to create Type 2 Viral – search engine dissemination.
Let’s put that theory to the test.
If you go to Google right now, cut and paste the following sub-heading of a recent article I wrote into the search field:
Huge savings for SMEs
Now conduct your search. Unless something drastic has happened in the hours since I wrote this piece, my blog pieces will appear twice on the first page of search results.
Given that the phrase is not particularly specific, that’s a pretty valuable position to achieve!
But I have not conducted any real trickery or expertise to achieve this result. Search engines have simply picked up the headline from my business website and others that have published it and considered it important enough to place it prominently on the first page of their results for the term.
So search engines have automatically created this second viral effect. It won’t take long to understand the business benefit of this kind of promotion.
But let’s move on.
Step 3 – Email it
Once you’ve added it to your website, send it out to your email list. While you’re at it, include news of your latest specials, company or product news to get better bang for your buck.
If recipients know anyone else who is interested, it’s likely they’ll forward it to others. And if others think its of value to others again, they may forward it in turn. Better still they may join your email list.
Step 4 – Post it in your Social Networks
Finally, announce the release of the piece via your social networks. What is invaluable to you here is the Groups you are connected to, particularly in LinkedIn.
This could mean that with just a few keystrokes, news of your new piece is being sent to thousands of recipients.
So what was once a humble piece of business information, has sprouted to reach out to a potential audience of tens or even hundreds of thousands of potential customers.
Best of all, its free!
So if this capability is so amazing, what is stopping smaller business operators everywhere from embracing it?
Time and skill the keys
Two things: time and skill.
Time to create the piece and the viral funnel it passes through. And skill to write a piece that is compelling enough to experience these viral effects.
The key for smaller business operators is to either find the time to learn how to do it or budget to pay someone to do it for them.
In my case I set aside a few hours every week to create the content for my viral funnel which probably accounts for around 40% of my new business enquiries.
Either way, it’s something that no serious smaller business operator should ignore.