Viral marketing is nothing new, yet we still reap the benefits of it today. It remains one of the cheapest and most effective means of marketing. Everyone wants to go viral! But even before it had some swanky name, people used it. So now it’s time for a history lesson. It’ll be just like school. So sit up, pay attention, and no passing notes.
First up, I’m sure you remember the classic movie Spartacus. Did you ever consider that Spartacus (the person) went viral? Think about it. He challenged the status quo. But not only that, he challenged Rome. So just the fact that he was doing something risky got him recognition. That’s one way you can go viral. Create controversy. Walk the line. You don’t have to do anything illegal, you don’t have to anger potential customers, but you can very easily be edgy. Involve people’s emotions and you’ll get a reaction.
What was the result of Spartacus going viral? Well, during the course of his conquest, more and more people joined his cause. The point is, if you make people “feel”, you’ll get the same viral reaction. Customers, or at least buzz, will flock your way.
On the subject of movies and ancient times, think of the movie 300. Again, it was slightly stylized, but most of the story remains true. Unfortunately for the soldiers who fought the Persians, they went viral post-mortem. The good news is, death isn’t necessary to go viral. What helped the Spartans and their allies become renowned throughout the ages? Tenacity. They would not give up. Of course, in the business world, if you’re not tenacious, you won’t survive. Sometimes, we seem to get beaten as badly as the Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae. How do we react, though? You certainly won’t overcome by letting the story end there. The key to going viral is not giving up.
There’s one more lesson from the story of Thermopylae. The reason we still know about that battle today is because of a man named Herodotus. He was a great historian, quite often called the Father of History. Herodotus wrote extensively of the Persian Wars and immortalized the Battle of Thermopylae. What we can learn from this is we don’t have to go viral on our own. The great thing about viral marketing is that it consists of people talking. It may not matter who started the viral reaction as long as you are there for the duration of it. Sure, it’s probably better to be the reason everyone is excited (you just get more buzz), but you can just as easily ride the coattails of someone else.
Remember when everyone went nuts over Twitter? Not everyone can create as much buzz as Twitter did, but it was really easy to jump on the bandwagon and ride the marketing train. Herodotus didn’t fight the Persians at Thermopylae, but we know about that battle because of him. He tied his name into a great feat. Did you tie your name into Twitter? Will you tie your name into the next great viral buzz?
That’s enough history for one day. And it begs the question: Which came first, the chicken or viral marketing? Perhaps we’ll never know. So while we still enjoy eating chickens and viral marketing, remember that these things won’t go away anytime soon. Be edgy, tenacious, and keep an eye out for the next viral storm.
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