Viral Manipulation for Fame and Profit

Viral Manipulation for Fame and Profit

Reader Comments (16)

  1. I completely agree with the two points you made at the end of your post. Sure, you can lie and get all the traffic and exposure that you want. But once the dust settles, as you put it, you’re not going to be left with much at all. So if you’re intent on building lasting, long-term relationships with people, lies shouldn’t enter the equation.

  2. Wow. Awesome post and amazing video. Maybe I should start checking out zefrank after all. This is the first time he’s really impressed me but then again I’ve only seen a few.

    The Digg post we had on the Ghetto Big Mac video got voted down because people in the comments suspected it was secretly a McDonald’s viral ad. Of course it wasn’t but it’s funny that people are quick to assume there’s something sinister going on.

    And related to the zefrank video, the success of the GBM most definitely rode on its association with the McDonald’s brand.

    So I guess something secret was actually going on… us using McDonalds to get attention for ourselves. And a byproduct of that was generating a bunch of free attention for McDonalds.

    Anyway we’re off to shoot our next video on Saturday. The topic is a secret for now. Hopefully it can go viral too but there’s no big corporation involved in the concept so we’ll have to do it on our own this time.

  3. Sure, YouTubers have no stated desire to suspend disbelief, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t open to the possibility of an ARG that starts off as a collection of videos posted on a social video sharing site.

    I think it makes sense to extend the ARG concept beyond the traditional text roots and onto community video sites. Users who don’t like it can just change the channel (new media, old concept). If it’s well done the chances are that quite a few users will get hooked on something they previously knew nothing about. Isn’t that what marketing is all about?

  4. >>Isn’t that what marketing is all about?

    This could be why “marketing” has become a dirty word.

    As pissed off as YouTubers are right now, it appears that they might not be ready to play this game — unless they are told up front — and maybe not even then.

    That’s the deal with ARG, right? No one is fooled outside of their own desire to be.

    Don’t automatically assume your story is one that others want to hear. That attitude is what keeps people and companies unknown or badly known.

  5. Despite what you say about the manipulative aspect of viral marketing, I know it won’t stop. None of the unethical net activies like spamming have stopped, because there’ll always be a sucker born every minute.

  6. I’m not convinced that zefrank says it better than you. Faster maybe. And with wider eyes.

    This post reminds me of some things I was reading yesterday that questioned the effectiveness of traffic spikes from sources like digg.

  7. Rico, not all viral marketing (or marketing in general) is manipulative… but when marketers value attention without regard for other considerations, they might be shooting themselves in the foot.

    I hear what you’re saying about this type of thing not stopping, but I think the spam analogy might not hold up.

    Spam works because of huge numbers and no real concern for “brand” issues. Big brands listening to viral marketing pitches need to consider how they’ll look when the dust settles.

  8. Brian and Rafi, I didn’t mean to paint viral marketing as inherently bad. When I mentioned its “manipulative aspect” I was talking about its potential bad side, how it can mislead.

    That being said, I was trying to point out that such a negative application of VM will not stop, as there’ll be always someone willing to try it out, and those who’ll fall for it. Even the bad publicity generated when the dust settles won’t serve as a deterrent, because as more people get connected, there’ll be a new audience which unethical marketers will seek to take advantage of.

    Hope this clears things up.

  9. The whole idea of viral marketing is fascinating. I can understand why some might find it misleading.

    There will always be some people who are mislead or misunderstand the point, though. After all, most of us know about Nigerian scams and can spot one in a heartbeat, but thousands are still taken by it each year.

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