By: Chris Bennett

Viral Social Marketing Ideas for Boring Industries

August 28, 2007

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If you are not adapting social media into your marketing strategies you need to be. I still talk to so many people that either don’t understand the potential of a popular social media campaign or think they work in an industry that is not viral. All you need is one first page Digg, or one successful Stumble and you will be hooked for life. Traffic, subscribers, links and mind share they all spring from a successful social media campaign and any business can benefit from it. This post Mat did last week on some simple tweaks with Craigslist, has brought over 4k visitors and a whole bunch of subscribers in about 3 days. A digg and a bigger Stumble will bring much more, but when social media can bring 4k new visitors in 3 days on a post that wasn’t planned to go big at all you can see the importance.

We still hear from very large companies and individuals that they don’t see how Social Media can be leveraged to help their business and that there is no content that would make their business sexy. I wanted to take some specific industries that we have come across or been asked about and give some ideas for viral content. Especially since the Google algo is currently heavily favored on any viral campaign even if it is non related. You get a first page digg for something not related to your site you will see your rankings go up across the board. It is still better to come up with a related story though, as that will bring correct anchor text, subscribers and all the other benefits aside from links and traffic.

Trade Shows
The Trade Show and Display industry is full of old school ugly sites, with old school buyers and clientèle. Correct me if I am wrong but I don’t see a trade show blog flooding feed readers world wide. However there are a lot of things you can do with this industry in order to generate some buzz and get some links. If there is a big event that you provide a large amount of displays and product for, or that you would like to sell a large amount of displays and product for, create a post about that show with maybe some of these ideas, “Sexiest Booths Babes from Such and Such Convention” stole that from Shoemoney, or twist it and make it “Ugliest “Booth Babes from Such and Such Convention.” You could do, “17 Trade Show Displays that will Hurt Your Sales” and show all kinds of stupid displays with crazy lights or colors, or just plan idiotic designs. Or do, “Best Booths of Such and Such Convention 2007.” If done right these articles can be spread throughout the social sites and will generate links around the convention that you are targeting and you will rank for it and become a trusted brand for companies looking to represent themselves at that trade show or any other show for that matter. If you really wanted to get in front of the the elite “Linkerati” make those posts about SES, SMX or Pubcon as seo’s will pass the link love all day long.

Student Loans or Continuing Ed

If you are offering college type services like, school loans, continuing ed, or skill set training play off of the success of “High School Musical” and create a Youtube video called “College Musical” or “Drop Out Musical“, about partying, frats, dropouts etc… It would need to be no more than a couple minutes, maybe you make it a series to keep the links coming and release a new video every so often. If you made the songs and dancing really well, but covered funny college topics it could be very funny and generate a lot of buzz. You might think this would be more work than it is worth, but when you compare it to a weeks fees in ppc in the College Loan industry it may be money well spent. If you do a video make sure you watermark your url in the video and put it in the intro and credits, and launch it from your site to try and get the links to your site and not the Youtube URL. Also try to work some keywords in the the Youtube title, in case it does get a lot of direct links. This way you will get an extra position in the search results.
*If I was a college and I wanted to attract a lot of new students from throughout the US via the internet, I would be marching down to the drama department with some tunes humming in my head.

Weddings and Bridal Services
This industry would actually not be too difficult to create viral content for, there is a lot of newsworthy info out there and a very large online audience. I still want to cover it because there are so many people trying to compete in this industry online and for the most part they have very little budgets. Somedays we will turn away more than a handful wedding vendors because they want to rank for a decent word, but have no money for it. I always end up talking to them about viral and social media, at least now I will have a post to send them too. Create an article on, “The Ugliest Wedding Dresses of 2007,” or “The 20 Worst Songs Your DJ Could Play at Your Reception.” My mom is a self employed Harpist in San Diego, I could do a study on how there are actually more male Harpists then female and show some disturbing pictures of guys plucking away at the harp (Im sorry you can play whatever you want (maybe it is because I grew up with a mother that played Harp, but I will never hire a male harpist.)

I hope this helps to tweak your thinking, so you can look at your industry and see how easy it is to twist into something “Diggable.” Social media is a good path to defensible traffic, it can also be the secret weapon that your competitor can’t duplicate solidifying your position as number 1. It is easy for a competitor to copy your backlinks if they are all from link brokers and directories, it is impossible if they are coming from the natural growth of a viral idea. If anyone has an industry that they think cannot “Go Viral” please email me chris AT 97thfloor.com and tell me your industry and I will help you. I think it is possible for any site. I used to disagree with that, but I have become a convert from first hand experience.

Written by Chris Bennett on August 28, 2007

Chris Bennett is the Founder and CEO of 97th Floor. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him below.

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