April 24, 2009

Three Easy Steps To Instant Viral Marketing Success

Would you like to author content that spreads like a virus? It's not that difficult, folks! Just follow these three easy steps to instant viral marketing success!
  1. Write great content. Nobody wants to read something boring and dry.
  2. Use a catchy subject line, like "Five easy steps" or "Four easy steps" or "Three easy steps".
  3. Build a loyal following, one that is willing to share your content on micro-blogging sites like Twitter.
Have you ever noticed that this type of content is rampant in the marketing world? Ever wonder why?

I recently tested different writing styles. For instance, this article on Multichannel Cannibalization offered fairly useful insights. Nobody linked to the article.

This article (49 Vital Multichannel Modeling Tips) spread like a rampant, unchecked virus. The content, while absolutely useful, was disorganized and lacked depth or true explanation --- it was a bullet-point filled, connect-the-dots and color-within-the-lines style of writing.

A consultant told me two years ago that "... stop trying to make your readers think, just tell the audience what you want them to do".

Why do you think we respond to the canned, checklist style of writing so much more frequently than we respond to thoughtful essays? Is it true that we marketers don't want to think, that we simply prefer to be told what to do?


  1. Critical thinking today does not get the respect it deserves. Speed is more important than truth and breadth of thought trumps depth.

    Real knowledge take discipline. But winning a following and popularity lead us to shallowness.

    Make the readings brief and easy to follow. Doing so increases readership and entertainment value.

    We all long for simplicity and ease. That true in America more so than any other country in my opinion.

    So yes, the 1,2,3 listings do get more attention because it fools us into believing we have found something that has real value.

    Such listings imply completeness and promise to make us the expert we long for without putting in the required sweat we know real learning requires.

  2. As Ted noted, (and as you've hinted at in the past) actionable information is the rule of the day for blog posts... and analysis.

    Dr. Jakob Nielsen's usability studies (at UseIt.com) and information architecture research are a great read for some hard statistics on how users interact with sites - many implications for creating catchy content - suggest that lists lend heavily to the user's perception of actionable simplicity and value.

  3. I like the last sentence, Ted.

    Zak, thanks for your feedback and the link.

  4. Bazily11:47 PM

    I get the feeling that most don't dedicate the time to in-depth study because they're on a computer connected to email, twitter, and 40 other things. I've found that if you want somebody to read something that requires critical thinking, print it out and hand it to them.

    Speaking of reading, here's one you might enjoy:

  5. Thank you --- the author should be reading about Multichannel Forensics!


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