Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Viral Potential

Lately I've been discovering a bunch of new websites that have been spreading virally. It started with the LOLcats of Icanhascheezburger.com, and then along came fmylife.com (FML) and textsfromlastnight.com (TFLN). You may recognize all of these, or none of them, depending on your level of plugged-in-ness, and I'm quite sure there are plenty of viral trends which I have yet to discover, since I'm the kinda guy who really just uses Facebook to see pictures that my friends post.

But these sites are becoming increasingly collaborative. Actually, a site which popped up as a parody of FML, called mylifeisaverage.com (MLIA), has turned me on to other sites, like Mystery Google. Through these sites, strangers are having disproportionate effects on one another, including copying other people's behavior by imitating stories that have been posted on MLIA, and telling other people to commit random acts (often of kindness, on Mystery Google).

People have lots of stories on MLIA about getting commands from others through Mystery Google (which actually gives you the search results from the person who searched right before you), to call phone numbers and cheer up their friends. It's amazing what someone will do at the behest of a complete stranger, when they're connected through a fun site that both trust.

In terms of marketing, these sites have lots of untapped potential, for a brand that does it right. Many of us have heard, and even seen, how Honda went wrong with its Facebook campaign for the new CrossTour. But if a company has a sense of humor about its brand, and allows people who are not only savvy about this type of social collaboration, but also un-cynical about it, they can reach lots of young buyers, who will have a great new impression of that brand.

All I can say is, ad agencies, I know you have this in you. Get to work, and make it fun.

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