Part 8 Viral Marketing: Start a Blog!

Of all the techniques we have listed, blogging is the most work to keep up with.

It is also probably the slowest growing method on the list. In order for one of your blog posts to go viral, people have to know your blog exists.

With so many quality blogs already in existence, it may take some time to get your blog noticed.

It requires persistence.

Before you decide to begin blogging, make sure you are interested enough in the topic to write about it on an almost daily basis.

For a blog to be effective, you need to post at least 3 – 5 articles a week.

While the posts do not need to be long, they should at least contain the elements that any technique needs to go viral; a unique point of view on a subject, informational, entertaining, and fresh. Not only do you need to be consistent in posting new information, you also need to work at marketing your blog.

There are several easy ways to start getting other people to pay attention to your blog.

Start by finding other popular blogs that cover a similar subject as you cover. Leave insightful comments on their blog. When you leave a comment, you can include a link back to your own site. If some reads your comment and like what you have to say, they may head over to your site to see what else you have to offer. If the blog you leave a comment on is very popular, this could drive a fair amount of traffic to your site.

Another method of getting your blog noticed is to write a post on your blog commenting on something you read on someone else‟s blog. You add a link in your post pointing back to the blog you mentioned. In blog language this is referred to as a “trackback”. When you put the URL of the other blog in the trackback section of your blogging program it sends a message to the blog you are linking to informing them that you mentioned them in your blog.

They come and read what you said, and if they like it, they may write something on their blog about your post.

Their viewers can also click the link, which will drive traffic to your blog.

It is very easy to get started blogging if that is an area you are interested in. There are several good online blog services that will allow you to set up a blog for free. Some of these services, like Blogger.com, even allow you to set up AdSense advertising on your blog, which will let you earn a little extra income with your blog.

If you would rather have the blog located as part of your own website, programs like WordPress are very easy to set up and use. The best part is, it is free to use. If you write good blog posts, and can effectively market your blog, your readership will grow.

The more readers you have, the greater the chances of one of your posts going viral.

The key to success is quality material that is fresh, and holds the readers attention. You can not get away with recycling what you read on someone else‟s blog. When visitors come to your blog, make sure you give them a compelling reason to go to the main part of your site to look around.

If your blog becomes popular, this method could drive a flood of traffic to your site that will continue on an almost daily basis.


Part 7 Viral Marketing: Create a Brandable E-Book

Have you noticed the number of sites that offer free e-books to subscribers?

Give your email address, click the link and you have instant access to an eBook full of useful information.

The reason so many sites use this method of advertising is because it works, and here is how you can make it work for you.

Write a short eBook on a topic that relates to your business. In that book you include a little information about your business, and at a couple of key places include a link that will drive traffic from the book to your website.

Now post it on your website and let anyone interested download a free copy.

However, it does not stop there.

Encourage anyone who likes your eBook to offer it as a free gift on their website as well. If the information is useful, and the book is well written, the number of websites that are offering your book will begin to grow, Soon 50 or 100, or even 1,000 other sites will be helping you spread the word about your business.

A successful campaign with timely information could keep driving traffic to your site for months or years to come. Be careful not to overdo the information about yourself, or include too many links back to your site.

The more about yourself you include, the less likely others will be willing to give your book away for you. Another advantage of having your eBook before thousands of people‟s eyes is it establishes your credibility.

People give more credence to a published “expert” than they do to someone who has not written a book, even if the book is very short. You begin to build name recognition, and when people see your name associated with something in the future, they will be more likely to check it out. Internet marketer David Meerman Scott used this successfully when he released an eBook titled The New Rules of PR.

He posted a link to the book on his blog, and sent link by email to friends and colleagues. Within 3 days his eBook had been downloaded over 1,000 times. At that point it caught the attention of a couple of internet marketing gurus who talked about it on their own blogs. In the 3 days following those blogs Scott‟s eBook had been downloaded over 15,000 times. To date, the eBook has been downloaded over 60,000 times, and it has resulted in a continuing flow of traffic, and several speaking arrangements. He is now considered an expert in the field of internet marketing, largely because of his eBook.

Do a search for eBook compilers to find a program to create your eBook, or find a program that will allow you to save a document as a PDF. Whichever program you decide to use, make sure it allows you to include active, clickable links.

If the person reading the eBook has to copy and paste the link into a browser, many of them will not. Make it as easy as possible for them to get to your site.

Also, make sure the program you use will not let anyone change the information in your eBook. There are less than honest people who will remove references to you and the links to your site, and include their own information into your eBook.

Many programs will allow you to safeguard your information, so take advantage of them.

PDFBrandable is a good piece of software that allows you to create brandable eBooks.

Or you could just hop on to fiverr.com and get a designer create one for you as a one off cost.


Part 6 Viral Marketing: Request a Referral!

You've obviously heard of YouTube.

Millions of people every day view video clips that are stored in the YouTube library. YouTube and Google Videos take advantage of the fact that people are now spending more time in recreational internet surfing than in watching television.

It is another example of not only how people want to be entertained, but also that 21 people want choices. The public has gotten used to being able to choose the entertainment they want, and not be forced to take what is pushed at them.

If you are creative enough, or cutting edge, or wacky enough, you could quickly be the next hot video.

The videos that have the most chance of going viral are ones that deal with current events, especially if you can beat the major news outlets, videos dealing with business issues, and humorous videos. Steven Colbert was a great example of this when clips of his Comedy Central show,

The Colbert Report, were released on YouTube. Despite the objections of the Comedy Central network, when the show was still new, Colbert allowed clips from his show to be posted on YouTube. Within a short period of time his clips went viral, and viewership of The Colbert Report soared.

If you decide this is a method you want to use, make sure you have a fresh idea, and not a rehash of something that has already made the rounds. You don‟t need network quality equipment to produce a decent video.

While you do want decent quality production, the biggest key is great content.

Make your video, and at the end of the clip place a 3 – 5 second promotional slide with the URL for your website so viewers can look for more useful information.

Make sure the landing page you send them to matches the tone of the video.

If the video you use is quirky and humorous, and the landing page is serious and all business, your 22 visitors will only stay for a few seconds before leaving for more entertaining sites.

Once your video is produced, and looks the way you want it to, upload your video onto YouTube and Google Videos.

These sites offer services that allow website owners and users of social network sites like MySpace to place video viewers on their site.

If your video goes viral, not only will potential customers be able to see your video on the host site, but also on all of the personal sites that pick it up. The amount of traffic that could flood to your site is huge.


Part 5 Viral Marketing: Give Something Away!

One of the best early examples of building a business by giving something away is Hotmail. Hotmail gave away free email services and email addresses free to anyone who signed up for one, and a lot of people did (and still do).

Today millions of users have Hotmail addresses. What made hotmail successful was one of the early successes of viral traffic building on the internet.

At the bottom of every email that was sent through one of the free Hotmail accounts was a message telling others how they could get a free Hotmail account. Every time Hotmail users sent a message, they were helping spread the name of Hotmail.

How did Hotmail make any money off of free accounts?

They did it by offering premium services to their customers such as additional storage space, and the ability to send emails without any advertising attached. Hotmail became successful enough that in 1997, less than 2 years after it was created, it boasted over 8 million users and was purchased by Microsoft.

It is still one of the top web based email services in the world.

While you may not be able to achieve the same amount of buzz that Hotmail was able to generate, it does demonstrate the power of getting your message out be attaching it to something that people are willing to share with their friends, family, and co-workers.

Do not discount the fact that people love to get things for free. If it looks interesting, and it is free, people are more than happy to give it a try.

While it is easy to get them to try your offer initially, it is a different challenge to get them to continue using it once the novelty has worn off. 19 Repeated use is critical for your success because multiple exposures will cement your companies name in your customer‟s minds.

People are more likely to buy something from a company they have heard of than from one they have not heard of. They might not even know how or why they know the name, but that sense of familiarity will make them more susceptible to your message.

What ever you are offering has to be functional, easy to use, and add value to the user.

You customers have to feel that it is worth their time and effort to pass the information along.

Then, and only then, will they be willing to tell their friends and family what they have found.


Part 4 Viral Marketing: Provide Quality Content, Products, Or Services

Providing quality content, products, or service is by far the best way to build your reputation, and build repeat traffic to your site. Research has shown that on average, when someone has a positive experience they will tell two other people about that experience. On the other hand, if they have had a bad experience, they will tell seven other people. That act of telling others is how the viral traffic generation techniques start.

If your customers never tell anyone else about you and your site, you are back to doing all of the marketing on your own. To build returning customers to your site, you need to establish a reputation as an expert in your field, very entertaining, or someone who has unique insights. That does not happen if all you are offering is cheap, recycled drivel that you found on someone else‟s website. Make sure that what you offer is your own work, and something that is different from what can be found on every other website. As your reputation as an expert increases, other websites and bloggers will start to pay attention to your website.

They will begin to talk about what you are doing, and will even give links from their website to yours. Suddenly every one of their readers becomes a potential customer. The higher the quality of material you produce, the more often your site will be linked to. Each link to your site is an avenue for new visitors to your business. If you do not think you have the ability to create something that will touch people like it needs to, you may have to spend the money and hire someone else to do it for you.

Fortunately for you, there are a lot of service that will put you in touch with freelance writers, site designers, and program designers. If you have an idea about what you want, chances are there is someone available to do it for you. If you are willing to take a chance on a freelancer who has not yet established themselves, you can often find one that will work for a low wage in exchange for the experience the job will give them. Be careful though; often times you get what you pay for. Make sure the work you get is up to the standards necessary to appeal to your audience.