Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Snowball Effect

Hi all,

My name is Andrea and I am currently working for Lenore as a marketing intern. When Lenore and I began discussing the tasks I would be undertaking while working for her, I was amazed at how highly concentrated in viral marketing my tasks would be. The last topic I had covered in my marketing class was actually this term and the main point my teacher made was that this form of marketing is already gaining attention and will continue to grow as more businesses learn about how effective it is if done properly.

I was excited to get started and was amazed at how this type of marketing was hidden in my every day life. As Lenore has previously mentioned in this blog, viral marketing is dependent on consumers passing along a marketing message to each other. This form of marketing, as I have learned from my teachers as well as personal experience, can either work wonders or fizzle out quickly. When I thought about it, someone on television or on the radio telling me to purchase something is a lot less effective than my friends or family recommending something. This has happened with a vast number of businesses including restaurants, new clothing stores, or even a mini vacation spot.

I knew that my experience working with this form of marketing would greatly benefit me and prepare me for future endeavors in the business world once I graduate. What I did not realize was how many websites are focused on viral marketing. I was immediately given the opportunity to begin building and updating the Facebook and MySpace pages for both The Bride's Book and The Bride's Market. This seemed like it would be a fun and easy task (what college student wouldn't want to WORK on Facebook/MySpace!?!). Once I began researching into all of the possibilities that each social networking site provided me with, I was overwhelmed and although it was still extremely fun and interesting, I was proven wrong about my previous thoughts about the task being easy!

Facebook has a great information packet to help any business create a page, build a fan base, set up add campaigns, and utilize all of the tools specifically present within Facebook to promote and build a company's viral marketing platform. Although I thought I knew everything about Facebook since I was an avid user myself for socializing, I was especially blown away at all of the possible applications that could be added to a page. I spent hours researching other pages and the applications available for Facebook pages and I was in awe. The applications included but were certainly not limited to platforms for ordering a company's products, consumer star ratings for restaurants, polls, music, and so much more! This has turned into an intriguing and challenging endeavor which has already taught me a great deal about the endless opportunities for viral marketing on Facebook in addition to the hidden element of this form of marketing. This is due to the fact that "mini feeds" show up every time a person logs onto Facebook and this tells them what each of their "friends" have been up to. For instance, when someone joins our page as a fan, this action shows up on their friends' mini feeds which creates a simple form of viral marketing if this sparks their friend to visit our page. This is just one way Facebook generates viral marketing. I could go into all of the possibilities but this blog would turn into a novel.

Basically, my job has been to work on our company's viral marketing campaign using social networking sites. Along with Facebook, MySpace has many possibilities for viral marketing and many are similar to Facebook's although I will say that Facebook seems to be more concentrated on helping businesses create a viral marketing campaign and is a great deal simpler to work with than MySpace.

In addition to these sites, I have also recently begun working with a site called KickApps. This is basically a site concentrated on building "communities" that have to do with a certain product, business, or interest group. You are able to create this community site by personalizing everything about the site . I had a little bit of experience with creating and formatting websites but this one was a lot more detailed. The one difference about this site that is actually very relieving is that it does the html formatting for you. You just pick colors, fonts, etc. and it will then put those choices into the format for you. This was the one aspect of the site that made my life a lot easier, unlike my MIS class! What I hadn't thought about was how many choices a web designer has! Choosing the perfect color and hue is extremely challenging and a lot more crucial than I thought! In addition to that, there are so many details such as how you want a button to look normally and how you want it to look when the cursor is over it. This I had never thought about either! Needless to say, my websites that I created at school were pretty simple!

Basically, after formatting the site, you have the opportunity to build the community with blogs, videos, pictures, and widgets. The widgets option is the most crucial, in my mind, to building the viral marketing campaign. This is because these widgets are able to be shared and placed on other websites. For instance, I am creating a widget right now that is a compilation of a number of brides that have used The Bride's Book to plan their dream wedding and am creating a slogan to use as the platform of the widget. I can then place this widget on the KickApps site and can also press the share button which allows me to copy the code which I am able to then embed onto another website, such as Facebook or MySpace. This saves a great deal of time and is really helpful in creating widgets if you aren't familiar with it. After I place it on these social networking sites, others are able to then press the share button and place the widget (a video, picture slideshow, countdown, etc.) on their own pages or blogs and thus, viral marketing for our company has begun and will hopefully snowball!

That is a simplified explanation as to what I am doing in terms of the viral marketing sector of The Bride's Book. We think this will be effective because as I previously stated, consumers are most likely to listen to people they trust rather than an advertiser on television or the radio. They want to be doing or purchasing what's "in" and who better to find out what's "in" than the group of people you interact with?!

I clearly have my work cut out for me this summer and am so excited to be learning about such a progressive and growing form of marketing! Although I am beginning to get a grasp on this topic, I would greatly appreciate any feedback you have or any ideas to build our viral marketing campaign. Am I missing out on a great viral marketing tool or site? Am I on the right track? Do you have any advise or any questions? Please contact us if so!

Our Facebook Page

Our MySpace Page

Our KickApps Page

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