Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Viral business-to-business campaign uses consumers to join the dots

Lois Weisberg, Chicago Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, photo by Peter Thompson of the New York Times

Do you remember the great story in Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point about Lois Weisberg, Chicago's commissioner of cultural affairs, grandmother and connector extraordinaire?

Lois (that's her in the nice photo by the New York Times) knew people in different groups and subcultures, including writers like Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov, doctors, lawyers, conservationists, musicians (even Tony Bennett), politicians, cleaners and cooks. Her network reached beyond her immediate circle of like minded people in a similar class or profession. I remember reading Gladwell's original article in the New Yorker back in 1999 and loving it.

Anyway, the business marketers at software company QNX must have read the book too. When they launched their recent viral marketing campaign, based on a game called Pocket Geek, they encouraged their 250 employees to spread the word, even going so far as to expressly tell them to send it on to people they'd think weren't interested in a b2b campaign.

Send it to Grandma, send it your neighbor, they suggested.

Just like Lois, it seems QNX's grandmothers did know the right people. Within a week, the campaign had gone around the world. The average visitor is staying and playing the Pocket Geek game for about nine minutes, and click throughs to the corporate site are 11%.

What does Gladwell say? He says in every group
there are people whose social circle is four or five times the size of other people's. "Sprinkled among every walk of life, in other words, are a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. They are Connectors."

If you can find them, your chances of having a viral hit ("The Gone with the Wind of the Internet") suddenly increase.

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online blog editor Julie Power Tuesday March 25 at 8 a.m.


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