I just deleted a multi-paragraph literary metaphor on the nature of business, because really- who has time to read all of that. Let's cut to the chase. Bottom line? If we are really trying to re-invent business, then we need to re-think the concept of Viral as well. Adam Penenberg wrote a guest piece on TechCrunch this morning to call for the renaming of Viral/publicize his new book, "Viral Loop" that got me thinking (if all you are interested in is a fast buck, sign out here- no hard feelings. That is not what this is about. If you are interested in building long standing, lasting relationships with customers that has value... read on) .It is not just that we need to re-name Viral, we need something this is just as effective, but behaves very differently.
In today's social media intensive marketplace, businesses have to understand that their end users are empowered to carry on active dialogue and build relationships- with the company and with each other- as never before. Viral Marketing behaves like it's namesake... tearing through the online community as fast as possible, "infecting" as many people as possible- not caring who it touches or when it strikes. When you play the numbers game, exposure is everything the more people who see o participate in your latest viral campaign, the better. But like a virus, these campaigns wear out the user and never have a long shelf life. There has to e a better way to build a relationship with users without behaving like a pathogen.
What if we started marketing campaigns that behave like crystals instead? What if you could build a marketing campaign that seemed to coalesce out of nothingness, and formed strong beautiful structures that endured outside forces and people wanted to come back to again and again? This is Crystalline Marketing. Thinking back to their youth and jars of sugar water sitting for weeks gathering dust, some argue that crystals take too long to grow. Rate of crystal growth is however affected by the concentration of material, temperature and the availability of nucleation sites. There is also good evidence that the fastest rates of crystal growth happen when the Gibbs Free Energy Rates between the states are highest- which only happens when the process is reversible.
What does all this science mumbo jumbo have to do with your next promotion??
1) Saturation of the solution. This one is obvious to almost everyone--the more people you who know/love your product, the easier it is for them to connect with each other and form bonds. If only two people know you exist, you need to work through normal social media channels to spread the word. You can not fake it. Adding sand into a container of water with a little bit of salt is not going to get you salt crystals more quickly. Depending on your product and your social media savvy, this could be an overnight phenom or a long slow process of gaining trust and building relationships. But taking the time to do it correctly will result in lots of pure strong crystals.
2. Temperature.. Simply put: a little heat speeds things up. This might be a new promotion, a new product launch, a new event or entering a new social media venue. the important things? Stop thinking of these campaigns as the ends- the are merely the heat that gets your solution excited and speeds up the growth of crystals. It is also important to remember that too much heat too quickly can disrupt the crystal forming process and just result in molecular chaos.
3. Nucleation Sites. Given the right environment and the right solution, crystals will eventually form almost anywhere= but it is much easier for tem to form if they hagve nucleation sites- places where they can easily coalesce. This might be a blog, a Twitter stream, a Facebook page or a YouTube channel. Make sure you make it easy for your fans to find not only you- but each other as well.
And so what's all that nonsense about Gibb's Energy? In simple terms, think of it this way- the relationships have to be a two way street. Not just users coming to get something, but users gathering to give something as well. Give them a chance to participate, lead, create as well as win prizes, gain fame and download coupons. The more potential for give and take, the faster users will coalesce and form strong crystals of support for your product or brand.
Remember that in real life, crystals give us everything from nourishment to cutting edge utility to perfect beauty. Why not put Crystals to work for you and build a relationship that will last through time?