Friday, March 25, 2005

Viral Marketing and Awareness Campaigns

In Unleashing the Ideavirus, Seth Godin discusses the idea of viral marketing. He's not the only one aware of its importance, and books like The Tipping Point and, of course, Viral Marketing, discuss the importance of this phenomenon. It's been successful in business, and I believe iPod's success is a recent example (though don't quote me on it). Maybe that's why Apple's television ads just show people dancing - we don't need to be told what an iPod does, because all our friends have one and ours is due to arrive by courier tomorrow morning.

So what is viral marketing? All it requires is the creation of a product or service that promotes itself, and allows its "customers" to promote it by simply using it. Hotmail is a classic example. By letting people send free e-mails with a signature promoting the service, users did Hotmail's promotion for them.

It would be interesting to create a similar, viral marketing oriented concept for awareness campaigns in politics and human rights. Specifically, I'm thinking of the Millennium Development Goals. While organizations are toiling to achieve the goals, citizens in developed nations know little, if anything, about the concept. For example, I've met students studying International Development who were not aware of the Millennium Development Goals, even though these goals will significantly affect their careers and lives.

But what if an organization were to create a project, or product, that promotes the goals in a viral way? What if there was an organization that took marketing of these goals and turned it into a cult phenomenon? What if the next time you're on the subway, your ride is interrupted by an awareness campaign that teaches you about the MDGs, and is so unique that you just have to tell your friends? And what if this "awareness campaign" is one that, by simply telling your friends, you unwittingly become a promoter, and convert your social circle promoters as well?

It's doable. All it takes is the right idea, infusion into a social network, and a couple of days to watch it grow.


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11:25 PM, December 29, 2005  

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