If you are a viral marketer, link-baiter, infographic designer, viral video maker, or in the past attempted to produce a viral marketing project then you will probably be familiar with the frustration and disappointment that occurs when viral projects fail to perform as you had planned.
Part of the challenge is objectively assessing your work when you’ve spent your time and money creating something you are extremely proud of, similar to constructively criticising your children, somewhat difficult.
More often than not, most people will assume that their creation is a masterpiece and will believe that it is quite possibly more special than the Haywain by John Constable. It might well be, but others need to think so to, if it is to spread like Chlamydia in a college dormitory. Most people wrongly believe that once their viral creation is thrust into the public domain that people will forward it onto their friends who will in turn send it to their friends and their friends and their friends and their friends until eventually the entire Internet population is familiar the viral project that they created.
It is completely normal for viral campaigns to fail; only a tiny number of them ever become viral and much of that is accidental. The Internet is completely awash with amazing “things” already: crazy video clips, hilarious pictures and more neat games than anyone could ever consume in a lifetime, much of which is better, more interesting and funnier than what most people could create themselves.
However, it is possible to produce successful viral campaigns; if people are willing to be honest with themselves and listen to the feedback that is given to them to try and improve and learn, then there is a good chance they will eventually create a winning viral campaign. The rewards of a successful project include lots of ego points (by far the largest benefit most of the time), website traffic, backlinks and or whatever other metric you use to judge whether your viral marketing campaign was a success.
There are mechanisms to get feedback for your work from real people in the form of social networks. They will honestly and objectively vote whether they like it – or perhaps not, with a simple “yes” or “no” click of their mouse. All without worrying about hurting your feelings, not being your friend or perhaps getting fired. One can utilise several social networks for real-time feedback by buying a small amount of advertising from them, my favourite is StumbleUpon.com. This is mainly because of the highly detailed, almost granular feedback it offers. For just $250 or less, I can get an accurate assessment of a project and find out whether a couple of thousand people like what they have just seen.
The most basic viral marketing campaign will cost at least a few thousand Dollars and considering that getting feedback is only a tiny fraction of what an entire project may cost, it would be prudent to grab the opportunity and get several thousand people to vote objectively whether what you have created is any good. If the campaign does happen to fail, look at the feedback you have and see what can be learnt. If the viral campaign spreads as it planned, I still suggest that you still look at the data and try to understand if anything can be improved for future projects. Looking at the data will increase the chance of success and reduce the odds of failure. Create. Learn. Improve, Always.
I’ve included a screenshot at the end of this blog post of various StumbleUpon reviews; these are of viral marketing campaigns I’ve created over the years. I’ve included a range of projects to illustrate the different levels of feedback. If the reviews are negative on StumbleUpon, this is generally reflected by the performance of the viral campaign. I apologise for the quality of the screenshot it is slightly unclear due to the constraints of my blog theme.
Once you have setup your viral campaign with Stumbleupon for feedback and it’s up and running, look the “score” column. A project needs to score at least 85%+ for it to be considered successful in my opinion. If the percentages are much lower than my suggested minimum, then you will need to try and figure out why it didn’t work as planned. I’ve promoted a few viral projects over the years that have done quite badly and received less than a 50% “approval”. The feedback enabled me to learn and not to make the same mistakes again.
A positive spinoff to all of this StumbleUpon feedback stuff is that by sending StumbleUpon users to critique your project, there is a possibility that the viral effect you desire will be started by the reviewers themselves. That is, if they happen like the project and want to share it with their friends and family. A Double bonus! :)
You can sign up to StumbleUpon advertising by clicking this link.
NOTE: I’ve recommended this service because I believe it’s a terrific tool to gauge how effective a viral campaign should have been. I don’t have a relationship with StumbleUpon other than buying their advertising through their online platform, nor have I received money to write this blog post or even been asked to review their advertising service. It’s a pure and clean review, uncorrupted by compensation of any kind.