A while ago I read an article on the lessons to learn from the DropBox marketing model. After reading the chapter on empowered interactivity I immediately recalled that article and how incentivizing referals increased signups by something like 60%. People generally want to share what is useful to them, and they really want to share something if it can benefit them in someway. When thinking of what the word ‘benefit’ (or more specifically, economic incentive) means to a given person I immediately think of the RSA Animate video about what motivates us and the example they give about Wikipedia: experienced professions and academics who could easily use hours spend researching and writing Wikipedia articles working for sizable monetary reward instead choose to work for free. Why? Because it is satisfying: there is a social currency that one receives when achieving something that a community of persons respects and affirms. This is why the FAQ model that Stackoverflow employs works so well (although the model has changed a bit since they tied site reputation to the ability to interact with the Careers site). This is why monetary referrals without social recognition don’t always work so well.
These couple lines rung true with a couple recent products / marketing efforts I’ve seen:
Secrets are currency. Revealing a secret is a definite conversation starter… Limit those in the know of a secret, those not in the know want the currency of knowing – they want to be part of the exclusive circle. (Buzzmarketing, P.37)
Push Pop Press immediately came to mind while reading this. They haven’t released anything yet, they have only demoed the product to a select few, and there are no publicly available demo videos. They are near 6,000 followers on twitter and really haven’t put any money into marketing their product. I’m interested in what they are coming out with, and I’m sure many others are too. They are definitely playing the secrecy card correctly. The MacHeist bundle was successful because of exclusivity and secrecy that they built up around the bundle. Apple (obviously) does this with almost all their product releases. Gmail did this with the invite system when gmail originally launched. Being in the know is attractive, and people will ‘spread the word’ if they know something others don’t.
I’m currently reading Buzzmarketing by Mark Hughes, a book about word-of-mouth advertising. I’m only about a 1/4 way through the book but as I’m reading through the book I keep comparing the ideas that he is presenting to experiences in my own life in order to understand the practical application of his ideas. I’m not a marketer by trade, this book is the first step in my goal to achieve a better understanding of marketing methods (especially marketing via social networking channels).
The two key concepts I’ve pulled from the first section of the book are: 1) the human desire of having something worthy of the interest of others 2) the effectiveness of creating a ‘pre-packaged conversation’ that people want to share with others. As I was reflecting on these two key concepts I’ve thought of a couple examples which show how these concepts play out in the ‘real world’.
The ‘Bed Intruder’ Song
The bed intruder song, virtually overnight, became the funniest most watched “have you see this?” video on YouTube pushing the song to the top 100 chart in iTunes. This video definitely pressed the ‘hilarious button’ that Mark talks about in his book.
Failed Door-to-Door Marketing
Open Range is a new internet service being rolled out in the town I’m currently living in. I don’t know much about the service other than it is lest costly than the standard cable + internet combo offered by Comcast. There is a door-to-door marketing effort going on in our neighborhood. I don’t like door-to-door marketers, I don’t want to talk to them and avoid conversation if at all possible. Mark recounts a story about a car company that used a ‘moose button’ to start the conversation between store employees and customers about a new brake product / sale. Each employee had a big button with the image of a moose pinned to their shirt. Something wierd or different that inspires the customer not the sales person to start the conversation. If this open range salesman had something interesting or weird to attract me to him I probably would of asked him what was going on, instead he approached me with the classic boring line “Have you heard of open range?”.
Having something worth sharing makes you feel as though you have some sort of unique worth, giving others this worth or ‘buzz currency’ in a way that is connected to what you are marketing seems to be the key to effective social / word-of-mouth marketing. The interesting thing about this marketing model is it preys on the insecurity of the human race, it assumes that people want to be noticed and approved of by others.