But … is it really ‘viral’?

Filed in Small Biz Marketing by Matt McGee on August 3, 2006 0 Comments

ClickZ.com logoI don’t think so.

Tessa Wegert writes today on ClickZ.com about a company called PopularMedia, which helps businesses create and measure the effects of a viral marketing campaign. And it includes what I’d call an old-school push:

The idea is to secure additional distribution of the viral piece through media buying. Unlike a typical viral marketing effort that puts distribution entirely in the consumers’ hands, nothing is left to chance.

But … viral marketing is pure chance. To put it in terms of “linkbait”, a popular SEM term these days, you make your linkbait, release it to the world with a little push (on your blog, with a note to a few friends, etc.), and then hope it catches fire. You don’t go buy a banner ad campaign to promote it.

People spread an idea because the listener hasn’t heard it yet. A viral “something” is like a hot potato — you get it and want to give it to the next person right away. I don’t think what PopularMedia is doing is viral marketing at all. As soon as something turns into a mass-distribution ad campaign, the viral element is dead.

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