26 Apr

The Next Viral Marketing Campaign is…

Andrew Eifler – Media Planner at Draftfcb
Friday April 23rd, 2010 at Skidmore College

Attending Skidmore College has allowed me to experience guest lecturers ranging from internationally renowned storyteller Ira Glass to driven self-starter and Skidmore alum Shep Murray of Vineyard Vines. Over the past few months I have been in contact with Andrew Eifler (Skidmore Class of 2007), a Media Planner at Draftfcb in New York City. Andrew is especially passionate about his work and extremely dedicated to his alma mater, returning to campus on a consistent basis to present on various marketing topics. Recently, Andrew spoke about his own insights on Viral Marketing. To read more of Andrew’s opinions, visit his blog at AndrewEifler.com.

It is sometimes confusing why a specific viral marketing campaign works, while others simply don’t. Andrew posits two theories to explain the rapid sharing of marketing material – why a campaign goes viral: 1) Content Pass Along, and 2) Brands as Friends. Simply put, Content Pass Along occurs if, and only if, an individual is compelled to share the content with his or her friend(s). Brand as a Friend occurs if consumers are motivated to affiliate themselves with a brand’s personality.

Andrew continued his presentation by emphasizing the past experience of online participants being able to associate themselves with content and brands they felt expressed similar values and beliefs as their own offline real personas. Content providers were only required to publish substance and be readily findable. Exponential growth has led to individuals (like myself), other bloggers, aspiring musicians, filmmakers, family owned establishments, as well as, educators, inundating the World Wide Web with content. It is no longer enough for a firm to merely just be there. They must provide more, a Magic Nugget that consumers want to pass along.

I believe that the introduction of the universal Facebook “Like” Button and integration of geo-location services (i.e. Foursquare and Gowalla) will allow users to follow a centralized thread of, essentially, their own personality genes, easily navigable by any and all of his or her followers. The compilation of this data, results in an identity. Marketers can use this personality thread to target likely users of their brand. This process was only made easier with further developments on the Facebook Open Graph API enabling designers to access user information, such as name, birthday, email address, hometown, “likes”, events, wall posts, comments, notes, links and more.

If the act of passing along content and identifying with characteristics of certain brands determines an Internet user’s identity, then wouldn’t that mean that marketers, hoping to create viral campaigns, should provide content with messages that directly align with their target audience’s personalities? Is this the equation to a successful viral marketing campaign?