Category Archives: Case Studies

Viral Marketing Initiatives

Since the day Viral Marketing was coined, many a marketers have lost countless hours of sleep pondering how they too can make a campaign go viral. Dr. Ralph F. Wilson defined viral marketing as, “any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence”. Used correctly it could make a company rich and famous. However, as many people who have tried to harness this power have realized, it’s not easy. Below are five characteristics of viral campaigns that one must understand in order to achieve that elusive virus.


This one is geared towards larger companies who want to help put a face on a brand. IBM did so with their “Art of the Sale” video series where they created a mockumentary style video of their sales lessons. This was unexpected because IBM is viewed by many as stoic corporate juggernaut. However, with these videos they were able to show their personality and let the world know that there are actual genuine real people working there. As of this date the video has been watched on Youtube over 350,000 times!



In 2006 Office Max launched the “Elf Yourself” Campaign which allowed people to upload their faces onto the elves as they danced around.  The initiative was simple (you just had to upload a pic of yourself) and fun (who doesn’t like to see themselves dressed up like a little elf dancing around on computer?). Note that Elves have nothing to do with Office Max, but that’s beauty of viral marketing—if it’s fun, people will share regardless of who is behind it. The initiative was so successful that more that 470 million people uploaded pics since its launch in 2006. Now that’s market awareness!

Call to Action:

Regardless of what you think of the creator of the video, the Kony 2012 blazed through the internet like nothing before. The video was emotional, captivating and most importantly, after it had you emotionally invested, gave a simple call to action. The video has over 97 million views on YouTube.

Connect with the Right People:

You may ask, “Isn’t the point of a viral video to be picked up spontaneously through the internet?” Yes, a viral campaign does happen naturally, but there are ways to cheat the system. If you’re making a campaign targeted for a specific industry, wouldn’t it be better to get the influencers in that industry on board? Take a look at what Universal Orlando Resort did with their Harry Potter themed rides. Did they go and pay millions of dollars for billboards and commercials? No. They targeted seven influencers of Harry Potter blogs and shared with them via webcast about the rides. Then those seven people shared with their communities. From there the “viral” aspect became alive. As was said in The New Rules of Viral Marketing: How Word of Mouse Spreads Your Ideas for Free by David Meerman Scott, the campaign reached over 350 million people, with no money spent on advertising!




This is probably the most important characteristic of any viral video and one that each of the four examples above used. You need to make sure that the content you create can be easily shared. It can be as simple as a social share widget that allows people to immediately share it with their friends via their social network sites. The easier you make it for the audience to share the faster your campaign reaches the mass audiences.

Remember, there is no guarantee or formula to make a campaign go viral. Sometimes it just takes dumb luck. However, though these characteristics are not the end all and be all, a viral campaign should have one of them.

Finally, I shall leave you with a quote from the movie Prometheus, “All big things have small beginnings”.  So go out and start brainstorming!

Feel free to agree or disagree below.


The Risks of Being “Social”

We can all agree that social media can add immense value to a company’s brand. A great social media presence helps people discover your product or service, and if done right, can even be a great source for generating sales leads. However, what happens when good intentions go wrong? There is an inherent risk that individuals take when they post online—comments can come back to haunt them personally. The same goes for big businesses. Below are examples of the risks associated with being “social” in today’s world.

 Burger King:


   Sometimes is not even the brands fault, per se. No company has been in the news for all the wrong reasons because of their Twitter account than Burger King has. On February 18th hackers were able to gain control of Burger Kings Twitter account. They changed the logo to Burger Kings main rival, McDonalds, as well as posted inappropriate and offensive tweets for approximately two hours.

Image   Before you begin to feel sorry for BK (if you even do), consider that it may not have been the worst thing that could have happened. Maybe, if I dare say– a good thing. Taking a look at it by the numbers, Burger King after being hacked gained 30 thousand new followers on the first day, as well as over 450 thousand tweets about them all over the world! Before the hack, BK had roughly 80 thousand followers. Today is has a little over 111 thousand. Now, if you subscribe to the old adage that all publicity is good publicity, then you can warrant an argument that BK being hacked was great for their brand recognition and most importantly for them—their bottom line. The challenge now for Burger King will be to leverage this new found popularity on social media to a more permanent state.


Image   Now let’s take an example of a company who is actually at fault for their own social media disaster. In January 2012, McDonald’s embarked on an ambitious, yet foolish promoted trend campaign known as #McDStories. What was supposed to be an attempt for followers to share their happy stories about the brand to build rapport became a total Twitter nightmare. In fact, less than 2 hours after implementing it, McDonalds took down the hash tag. Why? Because heartwarming stories were not what was tweeted! McDonalds created a space where people could share their most disparaging stories about the McDonalds brand– and they did. To make things even worse, McDonald’s Twitter team didn’t tackle the problem head on. They simply tried to delete it and hope that it would go away. But like everything else on the web, once it’s there, it stays there.

As we can see, being social on the web carries risks and challenges that any business wanting to participate in social media has to deal with it. These are just a couple of the countless examples of companies dealing with mistakes and obstacles caused through social media. At the end of the day, anything you post on a social network, regardless of how insignificant you think it is, can rear its ugly head back at you. If it happens to Billion dollar companies, it can happen to anyone.

If you have any thoughts, please feel free to share!

The Lay of The Land For Food Ordering in Social Media.

The food space in the online world is saturated with would be competitors. Every month or so there is a young gun claiming to have created a better meal online ordering site (I was no exception!). However, as these start-ups learn, there are two food giants already occupying this wanted space. You may have heard of them: GrubHub and Seamless. Though their websites have tons of restaurants to order from, which makes them appealing, they do not just rely on that. Each has a strong social media presence which constantly engages and nourishes relationships with their users.



   Was the first company to take food ordering to the web. It was started in 1999 by two lawyers who were tired of working late and having to take time to order food. In 2011, they bought back their stake from Aramak and with new leadership; they took their game to another level. Currently Seamless has amassed over 2 million users with over 120,000 restaurants in 40 cities around the states, including London.  With so many users, Seamless chose Twitter and Facebook as their tools for engaging their users on social media.

There Facebook page boasts over 200,000 likes, with over 20,000 “talking about”. They do about 1-3 posts a day every week, including weekends! This is important to note because most companies take the weekend off. Each post has an image and a strong call to action, and they get a lot of engagement from their fans through likes and comments. They also run contests and promotions for their fans. Their Twitter page has over 36,000 followers. There they post regularly and use it more for customer service and for sharing articles that are related to the restaurant industry. Unlike their Facebook page, their engagement on Twitter is less than stellar; getting very few replies and even fewer re-tweets.

For some reason, Seamless has inexplicably not dedicated too much time to Pinterest. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, the power that Pinterest holds for companies dealing with food, this oversight doesn’t make sense. I will have to chalk it up to them being too busy!



 If Seamless is the corporate big brother, GrubHub is the cool and quirky little brother. Found in 2004, GrubHub has compiled an impressive 1 million dedicated users to their site. Being the chief competitor to Seamless, Grubhub continues to take a big bite (pun intended) out of their profits. Like, Seamless, GrubHub’s choice for their social media is Twitter and Facebook.

There Facebook page has over 160,000 likes to date with 12,000 “talking about”. They post at a consistent paste with about 1-2 posts per day. However, unlike Seamless whose image posts are mostly standard food images, GrubHub incorporates more meme’s and customized images that are constant with their fun persona. They have pictorial images and quizzes that they use to engage their fans. They also have a custom tab called “GrubHub’r of the week” in which they post pictures of users to build brand loyalty and awareness. Their Twitter page has over 39,000 followers and a slightly higher engagement rate than Seamless. Like their competitor, they use Twitter for customer service and conversational topics for discussion daily.

Again, for reasons beyond my comprehensions, GrubHub does not even have a Pinterest account. With their custom designed images and meme’s they could create a nice following on Pinterest that would drive traffic back to the site.

So as you see, the giant players in the food world have dedicated time and resources to remain active on social media platforms. Neither site is perfect, but with dedicated users each site has amassed a nice following. Maybe in the future there will be a site that challenges them, but it will have to do so through social media. Any thoughts?