Drive your viral marketing to new heights - using “content pirates”!
Viral marketing is the “Holy Grail” of internet marketers. Viral Marketing means that, instead of having to do all your own advertising, other people will do it for you. It’s cheap. It’s hugely effective. It’s like “word of mouth” on steroids!
You’ve seen Viral Marketing in action. Bebo and Facebook rose from “Eh?” up to “Oh! Everybody knows” in a matter of months without any actual advertising – it was all word-of-mouth and referrals. Mobile phones are a great place to see viral marketing in action – from ringtones to pictures, media gets passed from hand-to-hand until everybody has heard of “Crazy frog”, “Message”, and “Let me out”.
So how would it be if you could harness all that power to publicise your own business? How would it be if people, gladly, told each other about you and what you do? How would it be if, instead of struggling to get your message in front of people, people naturally passed your message around until everybody knew? That’s viral marketing.
There is a way. And the best bit about it is: it needn’t cost you anything at all! Chances are, You already have all the ingredients you need!
Ingredient no. 1: Content. Take a look at your website. You’ve got some text, some pictures, perhaps some MP3s or some video. To explain this principle, we’re going to concentrate on the pictures.
The thing about pictures is that, just like good written content, good pictures are hard to come by. If you’re serious about your website, it’s worthwhile putting a bit of effort into finding or commissioning some good pictures. (If you haven’t done so already, then you should!) Just one or two great pictures are enough for your website. Just one or two is enough for this trick, too.
Ingredient no 2: Pirates! Not everybody puts as much effort into their websites as you do. Some people only put up a small, hobby website. Other people just want an image to illustrate a blog. So, web creators hunt through other peoples’ websites, even use Google Images, until they find pictures they want. Then they steal it.
Now, most webmasters would be pretty upset by this! They’ve put loads of loving care – not to say money – into creating a really good picture, and then along comes some freeloader and just lifts it. Half the time, they even deep-link to the image (so you even have to supply the bandwidth to deliver the picture to their visitors!). Parasites!
But, you see, when people want to use your images, they’re telling you that what you have provided on your website has a value to them. They might not be able to pay cash for the image, but they might be able to provide something else: eyeballs!
Ingredient no 3: Credits. The success of article syndication shows that most webmasters are happy to credit you when they use your content. So if it works with articles, why not with pictures?
In fact, it works even better with pictures. Alongside the pictures that you use on your site, you can provide alternative versions containing sales messages, web addresses, and so on. So long as you don’t obliterate the picture with your advertising, most people will be happy to use the alternate versions.
Ingredient no.4: A deep-link manager. So, how are these webmasters supposed to know that the alternative versions exist? How do they know that you’re encouraging them to “steal” your images? That’s where the magic comes in – you use a deep-link manager such as DeLeach (http://deleach.webgineers.co.uk). What the deep-link manager does is: it serves up one version of your picture to your website, and it serves up a different version to everybody else. Your version is just the picture (because it appears on your website), the alternative version carries your credits.
Ingredient no 5. Bait! Just like anything else on the Internet, nothing you do does any good unless you can tell people about it. Publishing your images is no different. But publishing images is much easier than publishing your whole website – you’re not trying to compete with other people in your space any more. So make sure you have really good, descriptive TITLE and ALT tags attached to your images, and you can be assured that Google Images will pick them up.
Putting it all together: Lunan Lodge, a B&B in Scotland, used this trick to great effect. They had a really spooky-looking picture of the house to advertise their “Ghost Safaris” – which was immediately stolen by hundreds of people to illustrate their Halloween parties. So, they created a special version of the image containing text advertising their events, and suddenly their advertising was spread all over the Internet – in front of exactly the people who wanted to do something special for Halloween. The Lodge was booked solid in three days! You can read all about it at http://deleach.webgineers.co.uk/doc-tips-bandwidth-theft.htm.
About the Author:
Samantha Unwin is Business Development Manager at The Webgineers, a web development company based in Scotland, UK. She can be contacted on +44 (0)1241 830679, or at http://www.webgineers.co.uk.