My view, for what it is worth, is that we can (and probably should) design our marketing to be virally-enabled. That is, we should make it easy for others to pick up our idea and make it their own — via links, embedding options, voting/ranking and send-to-friend options etc. BUT it is important to remember that "viral" is not about the brand … it is actually about the users — about me and you. If I forward a "viral" piece I will do so, because it says something to you about ME. It provides me with SOCIAL CURRENCY.
So, in this instance, when I ask you all to Vote for Mr Splashy Pants, this is what is happening:
- I am linking to Nat who brought it to my attention. This means that I hope that she checks her Technorati profile and sees that I am linking to her. Then she can respond and engage in conversation (hi Nat!)
- I am hoping that you good folks are going to click through to check Nat’s story because it is much better than mine
- I am also using Nat’s cute pic which has a nice call to action … reminding you, dear reader, to help promote Greenpeace’s efforts to save the whales (and if you "right mouse click" on the picture, you can save it and republish it on your blog — nice one, thanks!).
- Hopefully you love the silliness of the name of the whale and want to promote this to the world in an effort to fight the barbarity of whale slaughter with the power of cuteness while adding to your karma credits (remember, when you write this on your blog you will also receive additional karma credit transfers from others to you — after all, you are encouraging the good in all of us)
- As this effort accelerates, your sense of belonging improves, and provides you with a story to tell other (I was there, talking about Mr Splashy Pants, when he was only a baby beluga).
Most importantly in this process, the "value" of social currency cannot be dictated (by a brand or organisation). This is more organic. And sure you can plan for it, design for it and even hope for it, but I think "viral" is like comedy — all in the timing.
And speaking of timing … you can only vote until DECEMBER 7, 2007 (at 17:00 Amsterdam time). Oh, see that — three calls to action in the one post. Lovely.
UPDATE: Mr T pities the fool who doesn’t vote for Mr Splashy Pants. Got to love T.