During SMX West 2009 Andy did a great job live blogging the sessions he attended, and a comment came through on one of the posts he did asking for ideas, or “out-of-the-box” marketing tactics that could work for physicians offices:
Creative Marketing Tactics for Physician Offices? I would like to know of any creative out-of-the-box marketing tactics that anyone has used when marketing services to physician offices, medical facilities, etc. Thanks in advance.
Here goes: The thing you must realize about viral marketing ideas in regards to any specific business is that it does not have to be a perfect match. Services that a physician offers in itself is not the kind of content that is worthy of “going viral”.
The First Step: Research – I would suggest doing some research on some of the major social media websites like Digg, Stumble Upon, Reddit and Twitter (for starters) for stories related to the industry that may have gone popular, caused some buzz, got a ton of votes or gotten a lot of re-tweets. Let me give you an example from Digg first. If you go to Digg and do a search for something related to physicians, you will start to see the kind of stories that do well. Also pay attention to the arrows. You will notice most of the stories that have done well are in the “health” category and this should give you some great ideas for what kind of stories you could come up with. I would also pay attention to the up and coming inside the health category. Many times you will find amazing stories that never hit the front page of Digg, but are really link worthy and can well for the over all health of your site in regards to links.
Lets take a look next at Stumble Upon: You can search on Stumbe Upon the same way – you can find it through the people that have tagged sites under “Physicians” and many other variations including health, but this again, should give you a better idea about the kind of stories that are doing well on Stumble Upon.
You can research Reddit pretty much the same way as the above two examples, but its more important to see the kind content that has done well on Reddit. You will start to notice as you are doing research how certain sites refer different types of content etc. The better of a job you do getting the specific kind of content the users like and are looking for, the better your campaigns will do.
Here is how I would research for ideas on Twitter. I would first go to Twitter Search and again, type in my keywords: In this screenshot I did a search for Physicians and I put arrows next to the ones that Have an RT, or R/T or r/t (retweet) means they liked it so much they wanted to share it with everyone who is following them. This gives some kind of an indication of what people may be looking for, or what may be better content.
Second Step – Figure out to make the research work for you. You do not want to copy what other people have done, but you can take ideas and do everything you can to come up with something that will bring value and benefit readers. So the above Twitter example showed social networking links for physicians – what if you came up with an article talking about “The Top 10 Social Networking Resources For Physicians” this would also be great for you to explore and get better because it is your industry too, so its a win-win.
I was thinking a physicians office could really take advantage of Twitter by offering “daily tips” to keep away the flu this season, or “helpful hints” on what to do to stop the common cold, or what to do to make it end quicker. They could also use it to promote their office by having a “$10 Dollar Twitter ONLY Flu Shot Day” or something similar. There are so many ways to take advantage of these networks its crazy!
Once you get into this, and I mean really get into this – the ideas really will start flowing. If you are not a great writer then you can hire someone to help you out with editing etc. Make sure you double check everything and do everything you can to make the content your own and unique. If you are doing this, and providing something of value it will be picked up on these sites, and people will link to it. People link to good content – its that simple. You just had to figure out how and what kind to get in front of them.
Think about this – I have a buddy who use to be a professional rollar-blader and has shared a story with me many times about an accident on a rail, and one of his (lets call it) “boys” got smashed and swelled up to the size of a grapefruit – Can you imagine the look on the physicians face when he saw that? Everytime my friend tells the story I am all ears and laugh my arce off – so if this does not give you even more ideas of what you could do, then I don’t know what will??
With the proper research, you will be able to find something that will work and go viral in the physicians industry. I hope this answers the question to the person who asked it, but if you have any other questions, or if anyone else has some ideas for this industry then please feel free to comment and share with everyone!
The other day I was talking with a friend about common methods used to create a good viral campaign via written or rich media. We started talking about some of our favorite videos on YouTube, etc. and ended up spending an hour watching all kinds of funny, inspirational viral media. This got me thinking about what goes into making a good viral piece. Below I will share some steps I think you can take, but at the bottom I’ll share the key.
- Formulate your messaging — determine exactly what you want to convey about your product or service. You want to convey the benefits of your product or service, not just the features, and don’t be afraid to get crazy in this objective.
- Determine your method — are you going to produce a written viral piece or a video viral piece. Consider the elements involved such as costs, time, etc. and then determine what route you want to follow.
- Load it up — this is the part where you make your viral piece connect with your customer on an emotional level. Touch their heart, or touch their funny bone, or something else that makes them think…I need to share this.
- Don’t advertise — viral marketing is about sharing something that is funny, or is a great story. Don’t just think about advertising through your piece. Many of the best viral ads don’t even include a brand name or anything…it’s left to the customer to figure it out.
- Publish the content — publish your viral piece to your website, YouTube, a blog, or a new website you build for the viral piece.
- Make it easy to share — let people share your piece as easily as possible. Make it downloadable, sharable, allow embedding, etc.
- Spread the message — do everything you can to share the message online and offline. Post to forums, message boards, social accounts, blogs, emails, etc. Basically get the viral aspect started.
- Love the comments — reply to comments made on your piece. Don’t delete negative comments unless they are crude or attacking to others.
Now here is the part I promised to be at the end…
THE KEY —
Make sure your viral piece is viral worthy. You can’t just expect people to share something that is ordinary or expected. You either have to come up with an idea that is excellent, or have some excellent tools you use in your business that can easily be made into a viral campaign. One example of these tools is from a hunting company in Texas, Rancho Bellas Rocas.
If you want to go hunting in Texas there is no better way than their way, as you can see from the pictures below, and no I wasn’t paid for this post…these pictures are just simply viral worthy so I’m sharing them.
For those of you that are looking for a definition read this just below. If you want to see the top 10 viral ads of 2008, skip to the bottom…
Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral marketing is a marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message voluntarily. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages. The basic form of viral marketing is not infinitely sustainable.
The term “viral marketing” is also sometimes used pejoratively to refer to stealth marketing campaigns-the use of varied kinds of astroturfing both online and offline  to create the impression of spontaneous word of mouth enthusiasm.
from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_marketing
Learn by watching the best:
This could not have worked out more perfectly for what I am about to post. I was just checking my email and received a viral marketing question from a reader who sells Pet Carriers. She was asking me what she could come up with that would be a good viral marketing post and wanted some ideas for some good content that would do well. heh
Here is why I am so giddy about this. Just before I left for my trip to Disneyland, my son was out in our garage and he was messing around with our cats pet carrier. I went ahead and took out the old iPhone and snapped some shots knowing that it would be good material for a later date. Remember this is me, the guy who can’t think about anything without trying to find a way to turn int viral. Here are the pictures I snapped:
Now you can see why I was so happy to get asked this question! When I took these pictures I was thinking to myself – These would do well for a person who wanted a viral marketing idea for pet carriers, and the title I would give it is: “Well Thats One Use Of A Pet Carrier“, or “What To Do With Your Kids When They Are Out Of Control” and my favorite is you could find other funny things that people have done with Pet Carriers and title it “10 Uses Of Pet Carriers The Manufacturer Never Intended”
Some other funny ideas that I had came from my other experienced with Cats and pet carriers. I would love to see crazy insaine Cats that don’t like to be put in carriers. I had this one Cat that was like the Tasmanian Devil when you tried to get her into one of them carriers – it seriously was the only time I liked that Cat. It was so funny to watch that thing freak out. I would love a top 10 video post including videos like that with the title: “10 Of The Craziest Cats You Will Ever See Caught On Video” or “10 Cats You Never Want To Get Near”
I think you see where I would take this, but hopefully this gives you some more ideas where you could go with content. With all the talk more and more about quality content and information on your site in order to get links instead of having to buy them, this would be your ticket to great content, leading lots of people talking and linking to your site. That is the whole point of a viral marketing campagin in getting people talking about your site, sharing it with others and linking. Generating that buzz that you need to help make your site more popular.
I think one of the most important keys to creating quality content, as well as viral campaigns is to make sure you are always thinking and paying attention to things around you. What kind of information would you like to read, what kind of stories would make you laugh and make you want to share with others. That is why I take a picture of anything that strikes me as funny, or why I am always writing my ideas down when I think I have some good ideas for content. You have to think about it and be creative and make it happen. It is not just going to fall into your lap.
With this being viral marketing Monday, and especially with it being Thanksgiving week, I wanted to say thanks to all the people who follow me on all of the places I blog/micro-blog/share at, and give back a little to my readers, even on this very new blog of mine. I really do appreciate the people who read my posts, ask questions, and share all of my stuff with their friends and other people in their networks. I am hoping to be able to answer some of your viral marketing questions. I have already received several questions related to viral marketing and I will address them here, but it got me thinking about this being the perfect opportunity to answer more. So go ahead and feel free to ask away, I am open for viral marketing questions!!!
Here are the questions that I received this week: (the ones related to viral marketing or social media)
1. What exactly is Twitter, and do you use it for viral marketing? Twitter is a micro-blogging service that connects people in a way I have never seen online. You are limited to 140 characters of space per post, but you can post as much as you like and share pretty much anything you like. When I was explaining Twitter to a neighbor of mine the other day I desribed it as LinkedIn without all the fat (because he is familiar with LinkedIn). I say that because I have been able to meet some of the most amazing professionals in my area and in my field (like LinkedIn), and Twitter made it super easy. Just click on the follow – I don’t have to confirm anything, I don’t have to write a recommendation, all I have to do is just connect with them an start to check out their posts. (Check out how easy it is to follow someone by following me on Twitter). If I don’t like what they have to say I can simply not follow them anymore, and only follow the individuals I want. Now don’t get me wrong, I love LinkedIn and fully recommend it for professionals (and I still use it a lot), but that was just my way of describing what Twitter was (to a neighbor who had never heard ot it – or micro-blogging). Those of you who like to argue for arguing sake, I know Twitter is nothing like LinkedIn, but I was using it for helping give someone the vision who had never heard of it.
2. How do you come up with so many viral marketing ideas? It is either a blessing or a curse thinking like a social media marketer. I can’t do anything, go anywhere, take a picture of anything or do anything like that without thinking of how I could turn this into a viral marketing post? It has gotten so bad that I even got a neighbor doing it, and we will be out somewhere and something will happen and he will say; “Now that would be a great viral post”, even if it wouldn’t be, he still is catching on. The best answer for this is that I feel I have a pretty good understanding of what each social media site is looking for, and I have been using them long enough to see the kind of content that goes hot, and the kind that goes away. It goes way beyond that though, I feel I have a pretty good idea of how the site has to be set up in order for it to do well. Quick example: if there is any (even little) hint of prices (or pushing/marketing) on a story you want to do well on Digg (even if its worthy) it will probably get buried quicker then I can finish this sentence. You need to do your research and see what kind of content is going hot, and really understand what the users of the specific networks are looking for. I see some stories that have made the front page of Digg and think to myself – that’s a great idea and I have a story/idea that are along those same lines (but different enough) and I start to create content!
3. Which social media sites do you like the best for viral marketing? It depends on what the post/article/story is about, but in general I really like Digg, Stumble Upon, Reddit, Propeller and Twitter (in the order) – all of which contribute either traffic, links back, SERPs, or are useful for just getting the word out. Yahoo Buzz had potential, but like with anything Yahoo touches, they break it. This question alone deserves at least 5 or 6 posts by itself, but this is my quick answer for now, and I will get to the longer answered posts at a later day!
4. Do you use Facebook for viral marketing? While I think Facebook is a great place for sharing your content, and getting more of the word out to your friends and people you have connected with, I do not think its a great “viral marketing” tool – a great marketing tool, but not a great viral marketing tool. You have other amazing options to pushing massive amounts of traffic to your site via Facebook, like the Facebook Ads where you can geo-target and gender target the specific folks you want. That is the route I would suggest for anyone wanting to get massive amounts of really good (targeted) traffic from Facebook. Feel free to friend me on Facebook.
Those are 4 of (what I felt were) the best questions that were asked to me last week regarding viral marketing. I want to answer as many questions as you guys may have, so please feel free to ask away. Submit your questions via comments here, via Twitter, or by emailing me mat (at) dreamsystemsmedia (dot) com.
I did a similar post on another blog I co-author about a year ago titled how to think like a social media marketer (thus part 2 here), and decided to revisit the topic of “thinking like a social media marketer” and bring it up to date a little more, and give some fresh ideas.
Last night I was out playing with my kids, and the kids in the neighborhood when my son thought it would be a good idea to get his Tonka truck out and ride it down the hill (see picture). It made me think of so many viral markering ideas all over again.
Pretty soon, all of the kids went and got their own Tonka trucks and it turned into a big ordeal of racing and having fun zooming down the little hill we have by our house. They probably spent a good hour just zooming up and down this hill (yes they slept good).
If you remember from the original post, the reason I included the picture is because I was sharing a viral marketing idea to a toy website owner. If you could find 10 funny videos, or 10 funny pictures related to kids and Tonka Trucks and title it “10 Ways To Play With Tonka Trucks That Hasbro Never Intended” or something like that it would probably do pretty well on social media sharing websites. Plus, I was trying to share with you the concept of finding related ideas and topics, even if you are not selling Tonka trucks specifically, but you are selling kids toys. (see the relationship?)
My reason for re-visiting the topic is to give you some fresh ideas, and also remind you that you need to be thinking like a marketer in general, and not just a social media marketer. You need to realize opportunities in front of you and take advantage of them, but you also need to make sure they are going to be opportunities that have lasting effect. There are many viral marketing ideas that generate buzz but have no lasting effect, and this was re-emphasized to me by a post I read last night on promoting a new blog by Sugarrae. Sugarrae talked about how amazing and long lasting viral pieces are if they are done correctly, but how worthless they are if done wrong.
My focus when I posted this about a year ago was to just to help give people ideas that would generate buzz that drove insaine amounts of traffic in a short period of time (for sites like Digg), as well as building a lot of links in the process. I have since learned if the campaign is more thought out then just a viral “buzz generating” peice that could do well once, it has a much longer lasting effect that will drive more traffic and build links for longer then just a couple of days. When done right, I have seen traffic from social media sites years after the campagin was launched, more traffic from search engines because the story ran, and links that continue to pile up because it was just that good and people keep finding it (and talking about).
Things change, Digg changes, other social media websites change, rules change, but there is one thing that stays consistant – and that is if you create a good viral marketing campaign it will do well no matter what the rules are, or who the power social site, or major search engine is at the time.
This morning when I was taking the kids to school I was listening to my normal morning show, The John Jay & Rich show here in Arizona. I freaking love these guys, and I promise you will not find any two people that will make you laugh harder in the morning – anywhere. They did something different this morning though, that impressed the viral marketer in me.
They had a bet going with a girl who is also a part of the show that John Jay, (one of the DJs) could not memorize a Jay Z song and perform it perfectly. If he did then this girl had to strip down naked, take pictures and post them to the web. Well he did, and she got naked, and the pictures were posted to the web; with one twist. You had to click through over 1100 pictures before you got to the pictures where she was naked. So if you really wanted to see this girl naked you had to click through 1100 other pictures first, and its not set up so you can just change the URL and get to the end. You had to click your way through – no way around it.
What did this do for them? They were getting so much traffic it was taking their server down. I am not sure if this was true, but at one point Rich (the other DJ) said that there was currently 1.8 million on the site. It was making me laugh cause they had no clue about hosting, bandwidth etc and all they kept doing is complaining how slow it was, or how the server kept going down. Even people were calling in telling them the server kept going down. They made comments like, Perez Hilton gets this much all the time and his site never goes down etc. These guys need to be taught about hosting, dedicated servers and a bunch of other stuff.
That kind of traffic, the clicking on website (clicking all the pictures), and time spent on website is all going to help the over all health of the site (so long as they can keep it up) on Google. When something like this goes viral online, it helps out the “trust” factor in getting your rankings improved, and overall traffic from that point forward will just increase. You will probably start to rank for keywords you never even were going after. Also, all the people like me, talking about them, giving them links is the most important thing to consider when launching a viral campaign like this one. One other important factor is the Alexa ranking will get better, and so will their results on the other major search engines as a result of it.
The point here – is to make sure that your viral campaigns are sticky, and that your website in general, is sticky and gives people reasons to keep staying on and looking more and more. Give them reasons to click and click and click and stay as long as they possibly can. You figure out how to launch a viral campaign as successful as these two DJs did, you will see huge results.