Three viral campaigns and their success factors

Recently, I have bumped into two campaigns that are pretty similar. They are both campaigns with viral potential, and I would actually pass them on, even though I am very picky passing stuff on. So, I believe they have managed to integrate some success factors for viral spread. However, execution is key, and I don’t think they are equally well executed.But, do take a look:

Paltalk (via: ViralBlog
AARP (via: Andy Sernovitz)

I have also previously seen, and written about, similar campaigns, like the TV-series “Dexter”. If you take a look at the hand-written note in the end of that film, you will see a link to, where there is a new campaign, with a similar theme, but slightly more advanced. What’s extra interesting with these two is that the people behind them get all this information about the recipients of the campaign:

  • name
  • e-mail
  • age
  • sex
  • industry
  • possibly even the phone-number

But, what is it that makes them viral? As I see it, these are the success factors:

To see your name in a movie on the Internet isn’t very common. To be present in a movie in the way you do here (as a political candidate, in a murder investigation etc.) is a pretty strange feeling, and in the case with the murder investigation, maybe mixed with fear. The movies are highly relevant to the receiver personally – totally customized to me as a receiver.

They all give the receiver a “wow”-feeling. It is a cool experience (as I see it, the Dexter-campaign is the most well made, followed by News3Online/Paltalk last AARP) and you wonder a bit how your own name could be in the movie. It is actually not very complicated, but most people who receive a movie like this isn’t too familiar with how to create this effect in flash, and have probably not seen many campaigns similar to these.

Not having seen it before makes it perceived as new – it gets news value to the receiver, and as people like to be first with information and new stuff, to gain social status, there is an incentive to pass it on, preferably as soon as possible.

Current topic
Besides this, the two election related movies cover a very current topic, the american election, which gives them an extra boost right now.

All in all, I believe they have quite a high viral potential. What makes me like News3Online/Paltalk more than  AARP is that it feels like the folks behind the one for AAPR almost tried to squeeze in too much, and didn’t focus on doing it well at all times. You can notice your own name move on the background. Something I notice personally is also that the AARP-movie can’t handle my last name, with an “á” in “Mencák”. It just skips the “a” totally.

So, what more could have been done better to create viral spread? Well, both of them make the mistake of not enabling embedding on blogs or websites.The campaigns are built totally on pass-along from person to person. Enabling embedding on blogs would expose the campaign to a lot more people, with hundreds or thousands of potential exposures, compared to the few e-mails that are passed along.

But, all in all, a very nice concept for a viral campaign. =)

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