Thursday, November 23, 2006

Totally Viral Hits UK TV Screens Every Week Night 10.30pm on UKTV G2

Checking my email, I browsed through this weeks Popbitch to discover a new TV show Totally Viral. Although I've not seen it yet, judging by the information on their website, Totally Viral is a fusion of home made, video clip TV (see You've been framed) and user editorial (see

Totally Viral is the best of the web, found by you. Get involved and remember to watch the TV show every weeknight at 10.30pm on UKTV G2.
One thing I can now be sure of is that viral videos reaching mainstream audience via our TVs will give viral video producers a larger audence and provide businesses a better business case for exploiting social media and investing in social media optimisation.

At this point I'm interested to see how much of the editorial process is driven purely by users and how much of the descision making process is made by the shows producers? Could this be the first case of a spam opportunity (see gaming digg) reaching our TV screens and does this fusion indicate a new era in spam 2.0?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Four Step Web 2.0 Viral Strategy for Plant Lovers.

In the previous post, I mentioned an old saying "from tiny acorns, great oak trees grow." which took me back a one of the first part time jobs I worked when I was in my early teens.

I got a job working on a market garden centre growing various types of conifer. Now I'm not afraid of hard work, but I swear, this was truely back breaking. I'd spend all day bent over, carefully pulling up conifers and placing them neatly on a barrow to take away to be sold.

I can't remember the name of my old boss, but I clearly remember his wife, who would bring a cup of coffee around 11am and a cup mid afternoon. The reason I remember her so clearly was down to the fact, she could never remember who had sugar and who didn't, so her solution was to give everyone 2 heaped sugars and not stir it - If I wanted my coffee sweet, I'd stir it, and if not, I wouldn't. The system worked perfectly... unless I'd drink too far and... Yuck!!!!

But the reason I've mentioned it is simply this:- in that business as with any horticultural and indeed agricultural business cycle, there was never an option to "make immediate revenue" the simple fact was that a seed needed time to germinate and grow into a seedling and a seedling needs time to mature into the saleable product.

In market gardening it's very much a labour intensive business and the only other overhead or asset required is the land, and of course ideal growing conditions plus demand for the product.

Seeds are privided by nature, are there for free and so the analogy that a viral marketeer following this natural model seeks minimum or negligable media costs in the same way.

So here's how i see the 4 step social media strategy for plant lovers...
  1. Solicit user generate viral content where possible - keep production costs to a minimum.
  2. Seed & tag your user generated viral content appropriately - use the Web2.0 ecosystem (YouTube, Google Video, AdultTube - if appropriate)
  3. Nurture your user generated viral content - tell a few bloggers, issue a press release of two
  4. Back to step 1
I'm so convinced that viral social media is perfectly analogous to market gardening that the above 4 step strategy is all that's required (outside of actual social media optimisation) to grow in the medium to long term, "great oak trees".

To prove my conviction, I just created a new blog.

Web 2.0 Viral Marketing - is there a business case for social media optimisation?

Now that the web is no longer young and many would say it's... "in it's second iteration". We find ourselves in a situation where Web2.0 now provides the platform from which to seed and host a piece of media to massive, self organising communities using technology which has already being optmised such that much of the resistance to viral propagation has been removed.

Widgitization, social networks, and send to a friend, now offer us a proven method to captivate audiences with our message, host our message and spread our message. The process of widgetization provides a persistant viral platform. Which will (providing at worst, the widget is not removed, or at least see positive attrition in numbers) spread geometrically.

But enough theoretical bollocks for now - the big question is....

Is there a business case for social media, and social media optimisation (SMO) in the travel industry? This was the question put to me by Holidaybreak Chief Executive Carl Michel.

Firstly, it was agreed that there must be. Potentially infinite distribution at negligable cost suggestes a very strong business case exists but lets now put some figures to that...

Today I came across a viral marketing experiment which in it's top line figures suggested an aquisition cost of zero, however it failed to take into consideration the production costs of the viral videos - this in it's self was ranted about over at threadwatch.

The comparison between PPC and viral video was flawed. OK so the production costs weren't taken into consideration ($9600) and the actual cost per acquisition was $9600 to acquire 62 subscribers (rather than customers)

To quote the totally justifiable rant from Brian Turner...

Either I completely misread this, or Marketing Experiments - recently acquired by Marketing Sherpa - by got it completely wrong.

In a study into video as a viral marketing technique, they:

- spent $9600 creating 28 videos for YouTube, Google Video, etc
- which over 60 days received 324,190 views
- which results in 4,162 clickthroughs
- which converted at 1.49% to newsletter subscribers

The article then goes on to laud video viral marketing as a success, and that it beats PPC hands down in terms of acquisition cost.

After all, the acquisition costs for new subscribers via the videos was $0.

But, hang on, what about the $9600 cost of the videos?

Maybe I'm being dumb here, but by my calculator, 1.49% of 4,162 is 62.

Which is $10k to get 62 newsletter subscribers.

I can't see any reason how this can be lauded as a success.

Indeed this IS a justifiable rant, however (as I posted in the comments over at threadwatch) a persistant viral can take some time to take hold. Imagine if only one of the widgetized video clips finds its way into some seriously high traffic and is spread and blogged about daily for a couple of months the multiplication continues to take place - potentially indefinately. Yes it happens.

I recall, back in the day, launching a viral e-book (the old skool equivalent of a widget - I suppose)... The ebook spread and one day it found it's way onto a massive traffic source. It took over twelve months to happen and to be honest I'd forgotten about it.

Now let's travel back in time to just after the dawn of the web 1.0 era....

People knew that they needed a website, they knew it would somehow help their business, and in many cases the only measurable benefit was that it satisfied their ego - Yeh, I'm talking about the electrician "who got a website" and the plumber "who got a website".

Of course there were those who got a website which was developed around their marketing plan and provided a serious contribution to their marketing mix, but the amount of times I had to day... "Listen man! you don't need a website!" or "Hey.. when was the last time you decided to eat in a particular resaurant as a result of an Altavista search?"

I'm sure you get the picture. Well now back to present day, it's November 2006 (oh and I'm almost 33) the Web 2.0 era is well and truely underway. We're in the same situation as we were back in the good old days.

Everyone knows they need a social media strategy but cannot justify it. Just as they couldn't back in 1996.

From tiny acorns, great oak trees grow. was the phrase I used to use back then, and that saying applies more today than ever. Whether it's Web 1 or Web 2.. 3... or 4.

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