A Collaborative Viral Marketing Campaign

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fortytwo's picture
fortytwo
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 24 2009
Posts: 35
A Collaborative Viral Marketing Campaign

I've been working as a consultant for the past year on marketing for financial advisors.  I spent several months learning everything I could about online marketing, social networks and bookmarks, and SEO.  This doesn't make me an expert, but I've been shocked at what I learned, how little it cost, and how well it worked.  I thought I'd share it now-  and hopefully we can build on what I've found that works.

For my benefit (so I don't have to write everything all at once)-  I'll break this into three parts.  Search Engine Optimization, Online (paid) marketing, and Social Network marketing.
I'll start with:
SEO= Search Engine Optimization.  It is the art and science of making it easy for people to find your content when they search for it using google, yahoo, etc.  Chris and his team have done an awesome job of nailing this.  Try googling subject matter pertaining to the Crash Course and it will almost always come up very high in the search engine lists.  This is a tiresome, slow and often unrewarding process that is critical to getting a message out, and Chris and his team should be congratulated on a job well done.  They created excellent content that is easy to find by those who are seeking it.

We (collaboratively) can help Chris and his staff increase the reach of this site by understanding how SEO works.  There are two main components that help search engines link people with what they are searching for-  relevance and popularity. 

Relevancy- This is determined by most search engines by identifying keywords AND using some kind of thesaurus to look for instances of synonyms or related words of the keywords within the content.  It is a way for search engines to guess whether or not the keyword topic is actually being discussed, or if keywords are just inserted into the text to game the system.

The way we can collaboratively help increase the relevancy of this site is to talk ABOUT the main topics instead of repeating them.  For example-  today there is a great post in the general discussion forum about "Small Scale Growing, Tools and Community" with a member describing the specific tools and equipment and methods they will use as they share their expertise.  Other members commented using their specific experiences as well.  Posts that describe WHAT and ABOUT something are very helpful.  Posts that describe how you feel about something are not (for the purposes of SEO).  You can see this everyday when you search for a topic on google.  There are hundreds of forums where people discuss every topic imaginable,  but most are full of rants and chit-chat.  Search Engines remove or downgrade these because they probably aren't helpful to what people are SEARCHING for.  They also downgrade when sites are filled with typos and poor grammar.  Spell check and re-read your posts!

While the community needs both-  we all need a place with like-minded people to vent, and share our feeling with-  remember that those of us in the community who take the time to share specifically WHAT they are doing about a SPECIFIC TOPIC are doing the community a great favor by making the discussion relevant to people who will be searching for information in the future.  Try to support those threads by adding specifics-  either questions or answers to the threads.  It seems strange, but it helps enormously. 

Popularity-  search engines judge this almost exclusively by links.  In other words, are there people who talk about PeakProsperity.com and post specific links to specific topics outside of this site?
Also, are people inside christmartenson.com talking about specific topics and posting specific links to outside sources.  Links are the main measure (for a search engine) as to how popular something is.

Collaboratively, we can help make the site more popular by linking specific examples of what we talk about on the forum, and by participating in other forums, or commenting on outside articles and leaving a link to the PeakProsperity.com website.  THIS action creates huge returns.  Social Bookmarking and networks were made to address this.  I will cover that more in a little while.

Doing both has the affect of increasing the breadth and the depth of the content and who it reaches.  For example-  when the website first started, it might only show up if someone searched for 'peak oil'.  Now if enough people participate in a discussion about Small Scale Growing, this site might begin to show up when people search for permaculture, or composting.  By increasing the depth of content (more topics thoroughly discussed and linked to) we increase the breadth of reach (more topics that people search for, leading to a common source). 

Next topic- Online Marketing!

fortytwo's picture
fortytwo
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 24 2009
Posts: 35
Re: A Collaborative Viral Marketing Campaign

Online Marketing

This is when you buy ad space online. It is similar to buying a classified ad in the newspaper.
I have run ads using Craigslist, Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, Facebook and other affiliate spin-offs.  What I found is that it is an art form to write an ad that communicates what you want in a very small (think classified ad) format.  The good news is-  that the ads are ridiculously cheap and in the case of craigslist, free!  As an example-  I ran a google ad campaign a few months ago, the ads ran over 200,000 times and only cost about $12.  In my case- we were selling a specific product, so were were concerned with 'clicks'.  In order to get good clicks, you generate lots of ads with lots of variations.  Instead of guessing what message will resonate, you can test 40 messages with similar language or meaning.  Once you can see which ones get better results, you can concentrate your money towards those. Facebook is the one that blows me away.  I started a campaign last night and in 12 hours it was run 147,000 times and produced about 60 clicks.  It cost about $14.  I went in this morning to adjust down my bids for the various ads, and I expect to get similar results for half the cost going forward.
The cost of online advertising is soooo low-  that it would seem as though we could pool some funds and keep a small campaign going.  Upsides of this are:  it reaches all countries and all people who are online.  It becomes global at no additional cost.  It reaches many difference demographic groups.  Downsides are-  it costs money.  I'd throw some money at it, but only a limited amount- my last 6 consulting jobs have fell through thanks to this economy, so my budget is tight.

I would also encourage people to try it on their own. Start with Craigslist. It is free. You have a large space to write your thoughts, post links and pictures. It is a classified ad system that has literally transformed that industry on a local level and is searched by tens of millions of people a day. 
 
For those of you who haven’t used it, go to Craigslist.org and choose your closest local city. Look around and discover some of the topics. Try registering so that you can post an ad. You could post an ad for free education in the ‘financial services’ section. You could post an ad in any one of a dozen topics on the discussion forum. You could get creative and post a ‘help wanted ad’ to fix the problems discussed here.
For as little as $20, often $50 you can open accounts on google, yahoo and facebook. Before you do- google the terms ‘google adword promotions’ (or yahoo, facebook etc). There are places that will give you $50-$100 in free advertising dollars to use on these sites. Experiment around with writing some ads and linking them to PeakProsperity.com It isn’t hard and it is a great learning experience.

If the idea of doing this is scary- consider doing what I did and create an online identity. Get yourself a gmail account and register for everything through that. This allows you to project a message without fear of retribution from employers, clients, or hostile people. Getting an alternative email account will become even more important when we discuss the final topic-

Social Networks and Bookmarks

fortytwo's picture
fortytwo
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 24 2009
Posts: 35
Re: A Collaborative Viral Marketing Campaign

Social Networks and Bookmarks

These are services that seek to help people connect to the ideas and content of other people like them. Typically you post a link to something you find interesting. A relevant explanation is crucial to the submission process. Once posted, people who are your ‘friends’ can see it, read it, and if they like it, vote for it. Over time people form into affinity groups, reading and promoting the ideas and content within their group.

The downside of social networks is that it reinforces the existing stereotypes that people hold by allowing them to only consume content that reinforces their established beliefs. It shouldn’t be a replacement for hard news. The upside is that it is the single fastest way to spread ideas around the world for little or no cost.

When I worked with a client, I would have everyone in the group open accounts with:

digg.com
stumbleupon.com
reddit.com
facebook.com
delicious.com
twitter.com

Using an alternate email account (open one for free with gmail) will allow you to post anonymously and avoid clogging your real email box with all of the registration and announcement emails. Using firefox as a browser for this works best too- it allows toolbars and buttons for each of these services which makes it very quick and easy to submit or vote for things.

I would also have people start a free blog on blogspot or wordpress.com
The idea isn’t to be popular or make money, the idea is to have another place to link to, comment upon and repeat the content that you find that you think is important.

Once important content gets created and posted to the web- each person would post or submit that content to the web with a thoughtful commentary or explanation. With 3-5 people doing this to each others content, we were able to push it to the first page of a google search within a month. With sites like the Huffington post- they do this daily for every article, and reach millions of extra people because each story gets voted up to levels where everyone sees it, and links to it. We already know what happens when more people see something, comment on it and link to it.

It makes sense to do this if you are marketing a product or getting paid to do it. It is tough to do if you aren’t unless you have the free time to do it.

As a collaborative community we could begin to register for some or all of the above services. We could find each other and link to each other as friends. We could (daily, weekly or monthly) as your schedule permits begin posting and linking to the various sections, videos, and good forum posts. We could vote for each other’s posts and share them with others.  While this is an enormous amount of work in the beginning, once you start linking, you find other have already often done much of the work.  It starts going faster and faster and becomes easier and easier.  And you meet more people who like the things that you do.  And then you find things  that other people recommend which gives you an opportunity to comment on it, with a reference back to PeakProsperity.com  - you get the idea.

This has the effect of emailing someone a article, except that it affects thousands of extra people.  An interesting thing I learned about YouTube and why it is so important-  it allows those who are not computer literate to participate in the conversation.  Imagine if you had to read the crash course instead of watching it...  visual is much much more powerful.

Lastly- I use this service:
http://www.addthis.com/
It is a way to automate -with a button- the adding or voting of social network services to a site. I just tried putting one on my blog and it seems to work well. It gives you a gigantic list of places to post to with one simple click- although the ones I mentioned above give the biggest bang for the buck.

If you would like to see examples of what I am talking about, you can find my versions here:

http://digg.com/users/42thenumber
http://42thenumber.stumbleupon.com/
http://www.reddit.com/user/42thenumber/
https://twitter.com/42thenumber
http://www.youtube.com/user/42thenumber
http://thenumberfortytwo.wordpress.com/

That’s enough writing for me today.... I need to go get some work done!
I hope this is a helpful start. I’m looking forward to other ideas to link up, share and connect. Join me.

fortytwo's picture
fortytwo
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 24 2009
Posts: 35
Re: A Collaborative Viral Marketing Campaign - Summary

If you suffered through reading all of that-  you might wish that I wrote a summary first.  I deserve your scorn.

Here's the long and short of it:

1. Post on the forum often.  Discuss the topic with specific examples and references.  Link to the references. 

2. Participate in discussions on other websites.  Forums or comment sections on articles.  Use specific examples and references.  Link back to PeakProsperity.com

3. Online marketing campaigns are like classified ads.  They range from simple and free (craigslist.org) to complex and analytical (google adwords).   In all cases, their reach is enormous and their relative cost is cheap.  Try using them to promote your message.

4. Social networks magnify connections.  They allow natural selection to take place with ideas, causing 'evolved ideas' to survive and get promoted to others.  They work by members submitting items of interest, or members voting on those items.  Communities of like-minded people can join their community through these networks to share and ultimately promote their best content to the outside world.

 

I've listed my links to the networks I started using.  In the past 24 hours several members have already linked to me and we've begun promoting each other's content.  If you would like to do the same, I'd encourage you to post your links below and allow others to link with you.  Explore their content and promote what you feel deserves promoting.

This is how ideas go viral.  Even if you only join one service, it allows you a voice and a vote in making content more popular in the electronic world.  And that is how great ideas like those on PeakProsperity.com get spread. 

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