Though it may sound like fan fiction, Kaplan and Haenlein’s article “The Britney Spears Universe” is a deconstruction of the pop singer’s use of social media to impact the viral marketing scene around her 2011 album “Femme Fatale.” The album was generally considered a hit with its first week sales moving her into third place for the most number one albums by a female artist, behind Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson. Much of this success is attributed to the marketing team’s use of integrated communication and viral market techniques.
What are the techniques?
1. Starting Before The Beginning
Viral marketing is self-perpetuated, created in such a way that social users become responsible for the delivery of the marketing content. Great content is one of the things that you will need for a viral campaign to work. As Henry Ford put it, “First job is to make good product.” But brilliant content on its own isn't enough to persuade users to hit the share button. Every viewer needs to share the content with a minimum of two people who also distribute a share for the viewership to grow. Think old Faberge commercial from the 80s where the consumer “told two friends and so on and so on.” That is the basic nature of viral marketing.
Marketing researchers now know that the exponential growth in viewership is dependent on the right core group, called “the seed.” The best seed group will have a large number of people in the network and will have multi-directional communication. The first makes sense intuitively. If you're going to get your content out to as many people as possible, you want your seeds to know a lot of people. The second part, multi-directionality, is less commonsense. People who pump out content but do not have a dialogue with their network, do not work as good seeds. Instead of these hubs, you want your seed to be people that talk with their network and their network talks back. Seeding takes time and starts long before introducing your content.
2. Getting Them To Push
There is a certain lack of control to viral marketing. Once you give it to your seed, you have no way to guide the outcome. Your promotion mechanism needs to be integrated into the content. Music is one of the best techniques to get people to share your content, as music elicits emotion and emotion leads to shares. For video or slideshow content, match the right music to the right message. If you do not have a musician on-call, use high quality stock music. Music will gives an extra emotional push to help it gain shares to go viral.
3. The Timing Factor
The Spears viral campaign gave the fans what they wanted when they wanted it. This is the trifecta of viral marketing. Not only do you want to give your seed the content that they want but you need to give it to them in the right environment. They need to know that you want them to share. Plan a social media mix between your website, Twitter and Facebook to create an atmosphere for sharing. Tell your audience that your content is what they are expecting and that you need the shares to get the message out.