Don’t call it viral

I enjoyed Tinkertailor’s earlier post on how ‘viral marketing’ has become contrived and misused in discussions. Even if you call it viral, creating buzz for a product or service that has little substance will probably fizzle out the campaign.
I brought up that post because I just viewed all the Democratic presidential candidates’ videos announcing their intentions to run for President. The IHT article I’ve linked to, BTW, notes that today’s politicians are relying on internet video to disseminate their messages more widely. I thought John Edwards made the best move by putting it on Youtube, the most popular site for videos.
Now, I still strongly admire Barack Obama, but don’t think he meant for things to look this way in his video:
This is a very minor issue and perhaps most of you won’t care what the page title says, or notice it at all. And this page title is probably displayed for all other videos uploaded to But to those who are more aware of marketing techniques, it could look contrived.
It just reminds me that when doing something high profile or sensitive, we have to choose the medium carefully. Even if our marketing and PR people have the messaging down to pat, all we need is one oversight to knock a bit of wind out of the campaign. What would be seen as a technical error or typo on a normal website could be blown out of proportion on a high-profile website.
For instance, I think I’ve seen e-mail campaigns where the HTML web page version (“Can’t view this email? Click here”) takes me to a URL with the word ‘viral’ in the folder path. To most people, it may not matter, but to me it gives the sense that it’s contrived.
Currently, I tend to say something like, “This sounds very catchy and people are likely to forward the message. Let’s hope it has a viral effect.
The producer of the message does not have the final say on whether something is ‘viral’/buzzworthy or not. You, the audience, have that privilege.
Technorati Tags: viral marketing


  1. Walter

    Ahhh I was waiting for the day when Van will blog about marketing related stuff so that I have a chance to pontificate!
    Personally, I feel that viral, buzz, WOM and other forms of social media inspired marketing cannot work in isolation without a good product. Too much emphasis has been placed on communication and not enough on creating real and enduring value.
    The world of marketing isn’t really about how many eyeballs you can snare, how high your google or technorati ranking is, or how many page views or visitors you attract. It is about creating a unique value proposition that your customer values and proferring it to them at a price that is win-win to both an organisation and its customers. Easier said than done I suppose and hard to follow in Singapore’s “Instant Mee” culture.

  2. Walter

    Oh yes! In a shameless show of self promotion and blow-your-own-trumpetism, may I request that you link to me in your blogroll? He he…
    NO… don’t put me on your spam filter list… NOOoooo…Aarrgggh!!

Comments are closed.