Viral marketing

How can the Concept of Viral Content help Small Business?

Angry lego man

What can small business learn from viral content?

You don’t create viral content.
You create content that can go viral.
But you don’t get to choose if it goes viral or not.
It’s the crowd that gets to decide.

But we can see what the crowd wants so why don’t we just give it to them?

The amount of choice of content at any given point that the crowd can chose to go viral is immense. It is impossible to plan what the crowd will send viral.

But couldn’t I just spend a lot of money and get the best people together to throw up a viral, like the Old Spice advert?

You could, but after spending cash, which would be multiples of 6 figures, and there is no way to be certain that it would go viral.

But it worked for them.

It did, but why have they not repeated it?

They did, they had a new one out and it had millions of views on Youtube.

But they haven’t replicated the success of the one in 2010, the latest one has 1,994,833 views and 4,316 thumbs up, but 1,721 thumbs down. 250 comments, but most of them foul mouthed and snarky.
Adidas have consistent hits and have a marketing spend of $1.6 billion and from last year shifted most of that spend to “digital media spanning real-time content and online video after vowing to “quickly” recover lost market share to Nike.” According to Marketing Week

How is your budget looking?

So what you are saying is that it’s completely not worth the small business trying to throw up a viral?

Here’s the thing, you don’t “throw up a viral.”
You don’t even create a viral, you create content and as I said before the crowd decides if it goes viral or not.

But why do marketing blogs keep banging on about going viral?

Because it’s interesting for readers, big brands have big advertising budgets and also creatives love making content designed to go viral and so will talk about it more.

So viral content is all fake then?

No, if you have a piece of content which goes viral it can be very useful, but if you are going to attempt to go viral, you need to load up on cash and get the right people on board.
Also, it’s useful to be aware, when making a decision to have all the facts. For example do you know how many pieces of content designed to go viral last year, did not?


Exactly. And are you aware of how much money was wasted on content designed to go viral last year?

So what do I do? How can I take advantage of people being able to send things viral without wasting any cash?

Would you want a 100% guarantee that your money would not be wasted?

Of course.

Then you can’t do it, there is no guarantee.
However, there are elements of this technique which could be useful to you.

Go on.

There are reasons why this content goes viral, it’s all to do with how humans communicate with each other, how stories are used to carry information and to persuade people to do things.

Like buy my stuff?

Yes, you see, “viral” is just a label. What people need are answers to their problems and to feel good about the choices they make.

Well that’s easy, I do that with my customers all the time on a one to one basis.

Exactly, all you really need to do is to translate that to an online setting and produce content which satisfies the needs of people who buy your stuff and the people who like to talk about your stuff.

Because the people who talk about my stuff, but don’t buy my stuff may tell the people who do buy my stuff.


That is really interesting and it’s giving me a whole different way of looking at things. By the way, are you going to eat that donut?

This conversation did not happen. It certainly did not happen with someone who runs a small business in Cornwall I met last year, at the Starbucks in Truro and there absolutely was no donut involved and if there was, there was no way I would have giving it up.

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Content Marketing Social media marketing Viral marketing

10 Examples of Cats in Marketing


Cats. Love em or hate em, they’re the unequivocal and unofficial mascot of the internet. As much as we’re keen on the odd canine moment captured on film, man’s best friend doesn’t get a look in when it comes to cats. The internet is quite literally chock full of them.

But why? Does the vast number of cats we see online represent our preference to them as pets? Well no, not even close. According to many studies into pet numbers the number of cat owners and dog owners on both side of the Atlantic is pretty much even, with a slight preference for dogs in the UK and cats in the US.

So, why the fascination with cats over dogs (or any other amusing pet for that matter)? Well it’s genuinely accepted from dog and cat lovers alike, that there’s something altogether more natural about a cat doing something because, unlike a dog, you know they haven’t done it to get your attention. Amy-Mae Elliot puts it quite nicely in an article for Mashable back in 2010:

“When a dog gets in a box, it’s because he desperately wants you to think he’s cool. When a cat does it, it’s because it suddenly felt like the right thing to do at the time. More often than not, it totally was. I think it’s the very aloofness of cats that makes us want to caption their thoughts, or put them in front of a keyboard and see what happens.”

With their inherent watchability in mind then, it’s impossible for any of us in the digital marketing industry to ignore the profound influence cats can have over huge swathes of people and their uncanny ability to make us share images and videos of them. Regardless of how we feel personally about their unchallenged ubiquity online, the behaviour of the humble cat represents something that has the capacity to become instantly viral. Replicating this is surely gold dust to any marketer.

Of course you could just put cats in your marketing and be done with it. Below are ten examples of companies that have. Enjoy.


1. #SingItKitty

builtthis city

Company: Three
Style: Cute
Views: 5.6m

This hugely successful ad packs a double punch of cuteness with the frankly phenomenal miming of a five year old girl called Jolie Forrest to the 1985 power ballad ‘We Built this City’ by Starship. What’s the cat in the basket doing? Well harmonising with her of course. Unadulterated sillineness it may be but it certainly worked for mobile phone network provider Three, who saw nearly a million interactions with the video on social media after it aired on ITV’1 This Morning. Current hits on YouTube stand at 5.6 million views.


2. Cheerios Grumpy Cat commercial


Company: Cheerios
Style: Celebrity Cat
Views: 15k (unofficial upload)

Ok so while the advert isn’t particularly good it’s impossible to have any list about cats on the internet and not include everyone’s favourite cantankerous kitty. The advert clunkily attempts to combine the dry and sardonic humour of a thousand Grumpy cat captions and images that have gone before it, with a product aimed specifically at kids. On a comedic level, the result is arguably a complete failure but hey, it’s Grumpy Cat and even that insipid animated bee can’t distract us from our insatiable desire to gawk and giggle at this permanently depressed looking creature (Grumpy Cat’s real name is actually ‘Tard’ and her permanent sullen expression is actually the result of a form of feline dwarfism – I know, you feel bad for laughing now, right?). The YouTube shares aren’t really indicative of the adverts success either as this video is an unofficial upload as it was made for TV.

3. Cat Herding Commercial


Company: EDS
Style: Satire
Views: 1.2m

Satire can be a disastrous technique in advertising if it’s not done well. At best you can come off unfunny, at worst confuse and completely mislead your audience as to the nature of what you do or what you’re about. This video from Electronic Data Systems Corp (now part of HP) on the other hand is clever-tongue-in-cheek advertising of the highest order. The company took the popular idiom of herding cats (meaning the futile attempt to create a sense of order from chaotic scenarios) and produced a seemingly real life docu-ad, complete with interviews from ‘real cat herders’ going about their haphazard work on the open plains of the US Midwest. The result is both a powerful metaphor for what EDS does and a hilarious piece of farcical satire that puts the humble and independently minded cat at its heart. The video currently has 1.2 million views on YouTube.

4. Catvertising


Company: John St Advertising Agency
Style: Satire
Views: 2.5m

Again some clever advertising from US Advertising Agency, John St, with a cat video about cat videos. The concept works on many levels and ultimately gets the viewer second guessing whether this is real or not. This technique makes use of the internet’s propensity for both cat videos and elaborate wind ups and pranks and weaves them both into an almost believable satirical docu-ad. What’s so bold is that the company uses its own brand as the butt of the joke, leaving the more discerning viewer in no doubt that these guys are both good at what they do and have a very sharp sense of humour. With 2.5 million views this has done incredibly well for a B2B ad.


5. Cats with Thumbs Commercial


Company: Cravendale
Style: Comedy
Views: 7.5m

Sublime advertising from the imaginative and at times somewhat surreal video marketers at Cravendale. The advert plays on cats insatiable love of milk and something we humans all take for granted as we idly chomp on our breakfast cereal in the mornings; opposable thumbs. But what if cats had opposable thumbs? The resulting video is a prime example of our desire to anthropomorphise cats but takes the premise to such an extreme that it would almost seem nightmarish if it weren’t so funny. Silly, hilarious and somewhat dark, Cravendale’s humour is perfectly pitched.

6. Keyboard Cat’s Wonderful Pistachio Commercial


Company: Wonderful Pistachios
Style: Comedy
Views: 2.5m

Actually a meme of Charlie Schmidt’s Keyboard cat video, which has over 36 million views, this cat video has played on the cultural recognition of the original by creating a similarly ridiculous video of a cat playing the keyboard. The only slight variation on the original is the presence of a lone pistachio nut on the keyboard, which our furry friend then proceeds to break open in true Liberace style as he continues playing that annoying tune. Tenuous band wagon jumping here but it’s clearly paid off for Wonderful Pistachios, with 2.5 million
views and counting.


7. Happy Inside


Company: Ikea
Style: Cute, Natural
Views: 3.8m

A different approach altogether from Ikea in this simple but quite beautifully edited advert. What do you get when you let loose a load of cats in an Ikea store after everyone’s gone home for the night? Well cats just being… cats, as it turns out. No doubt many countless hours of footage were edited to come up with this final montage but at the end of the day this is just cats being adorably cute and jumping and running on all things Ikea. Overlay some lovely music and you’ve got yourself a winner. That’s the thing with cats; you just need to point the camera and film. Eventually they’ll do something cute.


8. Lick the Rainbow Advert


Company: Skittles
Style: Comedy
Views: 7.1m

In the tradition of somewhat darkly comic adverts, Skittles’ freaky cat themed video invites you to put your finger on your screen. Whether you do or not what follows is unabashedly weird, funny and quite unpredictable. This is a prime example of advertising that is built for the internet. I suspect with the broad demographic sweep of a terrestrial television ad campaign, many viewers might have found this ad just too weird for comfort and the whole thing might have gone down like a lead balloon. But with 7.1 million views and counting there’s definitely no shortage of individuals online that clearly appreciate the humour.


9. Fireman Saves Kitten


Company: Go Pro
Style: Emotional
Views: 23m

A change of tack entirely here. This video is actually a user created video but that’s not stopped GoPro cashing in bigtime on the hugely impressive 23 million views it’s got (the video itself was filmed entirely on a GoPro camera). Admittedly this video may still have packed an equally powerful emotional punch with a dog, but there’s just something universally appealing about the fireman rescuing a cat cliché. When it’s not actually a cat stuck up a tree, but the seemingly lifeless body of a kitten being rescued from a smoke filled room before being brought back to life by said fireman on the street with a tiny oxygen mask, then it’s almost too emotional to bear. And yet you can’t take your eyes off it. The fact that the footage has all been filmed on a GoPro camera almost seems inconsequential by the time the kitten splutters and shivers back to life, but that’s the power of clever brand advertising. With a little help from a brave firefighter, GoPro have certainly hit the jackpot in terms of brand exposure with this gem.

10. (Deleted, explanations of reasons why in the next cat post.)

This is a guest post contribution from Joe Cox, who is head of Content for Bristol based agency, Bespoke Digital.

Viral marketing

Latest MoonFruit Twitter Promo Press

Updated web mentions on the #moonfruit campaign.

Rebirth of a startup Techcrunch
New Media Age, they seem to have forgotten to link
Moonfruit Just Moonwalked All Over Michael Jackson, Ryan Healy
How brands are buying and earning followers on Twitter, Jeremiah Owyang
Twitter Needs a Spam Filter? No, We Need a Marketer Filter, Read Write Web

It occurs to me that most people just don’t get what buzz marketing is about.

The main objective in a buzz campaign is to get people talking about you. The second objective is to get the press talking about you.

If these objectives meet, then success. If everyone on the Planet started talking about your products and services would your profits rise? Not necessarily, your business may not be geared up to take extra orders, it may collapse under the weight of so much attention.

Buzz marketing is not for everyone and you need to plan very carefully, else success can crush you.

A buzz campaign by Moonfruit has got quite a lot of press so far.

Are Twitter Trending Topics The Next You Tube Video Viral?
Moonfruit Tops Twitter Trends with MacBook Give-away
Do giveaways work?
Twitter Promotion Beats Michael Jackson #moonfruit
Moonfruit: Paying for social media prowess

Lets not ignore the Youtube homages to Moonfruit which are popping up.

Viral marketing

Moonfruit Twitter Buzz Promo Going Mental

The second day of the Moonfruit Macbook promo is over and today I counted 99 tweets of #moonfruit in 60 secs. I chose one minute and random and counted. That’s insane.

They went from 1,000 odd followers to 30,000 and these are not the numpty followers that so called social media wannabe assholes get by doing the follow-drop-follow shuffle. These are real followers. Followers who do stuff like this.

It’s insane.

When was the last time someone got out their guitar and sang about your company on Youtube?

Buying Google ads aint gonna get you that buzz.

But here’s the thing, and here is why Moonfruit are getting the love, they sent the singer in that youtube vid an 8 GB iPod Touch. Why?

Because they get it.

The thing I like about buzz marketing is you don’t really need that much investment to launch a buzz marketing campaign. Sure, most cannot afford 10 Macbooks, but it’s not the Macbooks that made this buzz, what did it was the imagination behind it. And a good solid pair of cajones helps.

A buzz campaign is simply getting people to talk about your stuff. Linkbait has a lot of crossover with a buzz campaign, which is maybe why I love it. But it’s way, way more powerful.

Viral marketing

Buzz Marketing

I love it.

Viral marketing

World of Warcraft Meltdown Video

Does anyone act like this when they cannot access your website?

It’s incredible the passion WoW generates.

Viral marketing

Incredible Viral Marketing

This went out live on UK TV last night. The goal was for the skydivers to spell out Honda within the time alloted for the commercial. I wonder if failure would have brought even more attention, it certainly took hold of peoples imagination and brought something interesting and imaginative to TV advertising.