Forget Viral. Go Guerilla.
If you read through webmaster blogs the big thing is still viral marketing. Yeah, it’s okay. It’s free. But viral, online marketing assumes a passive posture when it comes to long-term promotion. You put it out there (whatever it is that you hope goes viral) and you pray for good timing and a whole lot of luck.
Example: A few weeks back the national TV networks all picked up this YouTube upload of a baby in a high-chair laughing hysterically at daddy’s funny antics. It was a very funny clip, no doubt. But out of curiosity, I went to YouTube, searched “laughing babies” and got about 200 hits using site search. Clicking on just a few of these uploads (you can only take so much of laughing babies even if they are as cute as the dickens) I saw plenty of good stuff. Funny stuff. Every bit as funny as the clip that caught the attention of a news editor at a 24-hour cable news network.
So, why does one clip go viral while those other 200 laughing baby clips didn’t? Lots of luck and good timing. Slow news day, pop onto YouTube, find a clip of funny baby (plenty to choose from), show on evening news. Wait for congratulations. Easy, right?
Well, it is easy to upload a webcast to YouTube, and you might actually get some organic viewers. The operative word, here, is might. Viral marketing is effective. It’s also annoying, sometimes illegal, mis-placed, offensive, off-putting and a bunch of other negatives that won’t drive traffic the way you anticipate. Quite the opposite, in fact.
That’s the problem with viral marketing. It relies much too heavily on luck and timing. That means you launch campaign after campaign of viral promotion with iffy results. Sometimes it pays off. Other times, it actually hurts your search engine ranking and annoys potential site visitors.
So, instead of casting your site’s fate to the wind, employ guerilla marketing tactics. These are pro-active, extremely focused and much more controllable by you, the guerilla marketer.
Viral Versus Guerilla Marketing
Indeed, they are similar, sharing two important characteristics.
Viral marketing is based on to critical premises:
1. It’s free.
2. It employs the resources of others for your gain. Legally!
The characteristics of guerilla marketing:
1. It’s also free (to you).
2. It also employs the resources of others.
3. It puts you in control. It’s pro-active promotion, unlike viral.
Why is this important? Well, let’s say you launch a viral marketing campaign and you post a bunch of your well-written articles on sites that syndicate content to other site owners. Syndication sites include helium.com, ezine.com and a bunch of other free content sites.
Once you’ve uploaded your article, design, program, artwork or other bait, you give up control over where those elements end up. Your scholarly article criticizing the United Nations could end up on a skinhead site. Great, now your name and your ideas are tainted by your “association” with hate groups. Ugh.
Your rights free photos can end up on competitor sites, or a site in a different language that you can’t even read. The fact is, when you employ these viral tactics, you may get the results you anticipated – visitors that have identified your authority and want to learn more about your good or services. Or, you may have a mess on your hands that’ll take a bunch of work to clean up.
Online Guerilla Marketing
Control over your creation. That’s what you want, even if you’re giving it away.
Place Free Content Downloads on Your Site
So, let’s say you have 50 articles uploaded to helium.com. And your pieces are spread all over the web on lots of different sites, each providing a backlink to your site. Okay, but what if you put those 50 articles on your site in an archives format and allowed rights-free use of the content.
Add “free content” to your keyword phrase list. This accomplishes a few things. First, you decide who can use your content and who can’t. Second, it drives traffic to your site, not to helium’s site. And third, using a content management system, you can track where your creations appear.
The content has to be good to be picked up so if you can’t string words together to form cogent sentences, hire a “ghost” at elance.com, guru.com and other outsourcing sites. You can buy words by the pound – and, because it was ghosted, you own it. It’s yours just as though you wrote it.
When you do offer up a free whatever, make the terms clear. You can download this article and display it on your site. In return, you must provide a link back to my site. By the way, it’s a good idea to track whether links are, indeed, provided. Some less-than-scrupulous site owners may claim the text as their own, defeating the whole purpose of guerilla marketing.
Blog Like a Crazy Person
Okay, if your blog posts sound like they were written by someone who howls at the full moon, you’ll probably get yourself banned. However, if you blog other sites everyday, pretty soon you’ll have lots of non-reciprocal back links.
First, find the top blogs within your area of expertise. For example, if you’re a site owner, Google “webmaster blogs” to see what pops up. If you’re an aerospace consultant, Google “aerospace blogs.” You get the idea.
Write your blog post or response in Word so you can check for spelling and other typos. These things still count as testaments to the quality of the writing. Be provocative. Controversy sells. But be sincere, too. It’s pretty easy to spot a blogger who’s more interested in promoting his or her agenda than providing a forum for public discourse.
Blog posts should be longer than 600 words but no longer than 1200 words. Embed text links to your site in each piece. These embedded links rank higher with search engine bots than the link in the “About the Author” block at the end of a piece.
You should set a goal of three or five or 10 posts a week if you can keep up the pace. And spread around that wisdom and experience. Use different blogs but don’t use the same content on different blogs. Spiders don’t value re-used content anywhere near as much as green, original content.
Become a Yahoo Authority
Yahoo Answers enables you to establish creds and get your URL plastered all over Yahoo. Here’s how it works:
You create a Yahoo account. (Have to.) Sign up as an authority. You don’t have to name a specific field. Just create a screen name, start looking for questions to which you have helpful answers and be sure to end each answer with contact information – especially your site’s URL.
You receive two points for each question you answer, working your way up the ladder from a level 1 authority to a level 7 authority, all the time helping others, helping build credibility for yourself and driving traffic using the resources of Yahoo to spread the word.
Yahoo users vote for “best answers” to questions. If your answer is selected best, you receive 10 points and you’ll move up that authority ladder pretty fast.
Try to post at least two good answers to open questions a day. Questions identified as resolved may still be read but they won’t move you up the ladder regardless of how cogent your answer.
Provide HTML Code for Your Webcasts
YouTube does this. If you look at a YouTube upload, you’ll see the HTML string for the video clip. Just copy and paste the code to embed the video on a site. However, don’t follow YouTube’s example.
Remember, the important aspect of guerilla marketing is control. You want to maintain control over where your content appears so let webmasters know that your webcasts can be embedded on other sites. They just have to drop you a line.
Hit and Run. Don’t Stop Ever.
On battlegrounds, guerilla fighters make short, powerful attacks and then disappear into the jungles or mix in with the rest of the population. That’s what you’re after. Short bursts of promotion repeated over and over.
Guerillas don’t face their enemies on the battle field. Strategic placement. The right force for the task. Control, hit, retreat, reload, hit. Over and over.
So take control of your content to insure its best use for your promotional efforts. And remember, guerilla marketing is short and sweet. A 10-part auto-responder is NOT short and sweet and by the time that 10th piece of hype lands in the inbox, most users are apoplexic. Enough already.
But a one page, surgical strike aimed at previous buyers who already know your solid reputation is good, guerilla marketing.
The final key to the success of a guerilla marketing campaign is persistence. It’s the repetition that wins the day. It’s the use of other people’s resources – their blogs and websites – that makes it work. And, the fact that going guerilla doesn’t cost anything but your time, you have to admit it’s cost effective.
Using this hit and run strategy will provide the means to take on much bigger competitors and enable you to stay in the fray and even flourish thanks to the use of free, controllable resources.