Virality: Reduce efforts of customers

7 10 2008

I was reading Ben’s post about social media marketing examples from Singapore and I can’t help but wonder why most of these initiatives are limited to YouTube and blogging. If you think about it, the idea of getting people to blog and create videos requires quite a bit of effort.

Why am I emphasizing on the word “effort” here? Of course you will say that these people did it all on a voluntary basis and there is definitely no doubt about that. However, did the voluntary efforts of these people encourage more people to voluntarily do the same as well? I believe more often than not, when we see someone’s video entry for a competition or a blog post about a blogger night/review, very few are encouraged to do the same leading to no virality. This in turn leads to people only talking about your product with friends instead of actively becoming voluntary ambassadors for them.

Having said the above, I would like to highlight a very simple but successful campaign which got many youths in America championing the product, voluntarily. The product is no other than your M&M chocolate. When I visited the states in February 2007 last year, I can’t help but wonder why almost every friend I made had M&M characters as their avatar profiles. It looked so cool that I wanted one as well! It was all from the new “Become an M&M” campaign.

M&M-ed Yuen!

M&M created a very simple online application where anyone could visit, no sign-ups, do some clicking and poof! They have their M&Ms. Every M&M my friends had were very distinct and different. The application is very well crafted, complete with a plethora of accessories, expressions and styles to choose from. I actually found my pair of favourite boots and hat which I personally own to clothe my M&M. Even though the whole process was very simple and easy, I ended up spending 2 hours on it because I really wanted it to represent who I am. In other words, I, and the thousands of “M&Mers” out there were voluntarily putting in effort out of interest and hype, and this lead to our friends and their friends doing the same too.

Why was I interested to even try out the “Become an M&M” application from the start? Apart from the concept being intriguing, it came across as something that is very easy to do (aka requiring very little effort). It didn’t matter that at the end users spent more time and effort than initially expected customizing their M&Ms. The effect of getting many people started was there.

If you’re a company owner, you might argue that coming up with ingenious campaigns like these take quite a bit of effort, time and creativity. However, one thing is for sure: people don’t voluntarily do things that look like it is going to take up their time. Sometimes, it pays to try something different, something that helps the user become cool (part of the hype) and most importantly, something that requires very little effort on the user’s end.




4 responses

7 10 2008
Benjamin Koe

Hahaha.. that M&M is very you! And you hit on a very good point. Sometimes marketeers come up with ideas that are a bit too complex for the public to engage in. I’ve seen everything from getting users to film themselves themselves to doing programming. The more complex it is the less viral and more niche you’ll have to go. Just because people can do complex things, doesn’t mean they’ll want to do it with you.

8 10 2008

Your example of M&M is interesting however not all products can be related the same way especially you have a new brand or providing a service. Furthermore there is considerable effort needed to create a software to create the character. Setting up a blog site is easier thanks to WordPress and other open source. So for marketer to start their social media marketing, blogging seem to be a faster way.

8 10 2008

Hey Andy! I agree with you that not every product can do what M&M did. Setting up a blog site is much easier but the sad thing is, we have 200 over million blogs out there and a lot of companies have gotten to the point of setting up a blog for the sake of it. Most of these companies do not put valuable content on their blogs and hence the blog becomes a non-effective marketing effort.

Coming up with a software like M&M’s does require a lot of time and effort but I believe the efforts paid off for them. 😀

9 10 2008

I agree with your views completely! All the way S Y!

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