Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Forum Game: Viral Marketing at work

There's a reason why you rarely see any Pachter-isms being deconstructed here, nor do you see that many other analysts being discussed for that matter; It's mostly forum bait. Things like that are fodder for long winded forum posts where gamers pick apart a comment thus furthering some agenda to expand the analyst's exposure. Sure It's fun, and I often enjoy taking part in it when a post like that appears on sites like GoNintendo, NeoGaf or even on the former Gingerbox forum E3 discussions, but after a while you tend to notice some of these articles for what they are; A method of giving these a-holes a leg up to post more dumb statements to get more page hits, which mean more interest, Spreading FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) about the competition , or a slanted view to get investors investin'.

You're probably reading this and thinking "Oh shit! Spiracy has his tin foil hat on" , but it's a pretty honest observation. The following is a quote from an article entitled "7 tricks to viral web marketing"

"The most important trick of all is to create a very strong emotion. You need to have an opinion, to express an idea with commitment and dedication. You want people to:

  • be filled with love or hate.
  • be very happy or insanely angry
  • be an idiot or a genius
  • be deeply compassionate or an egoistic bitch

You want people's blood to be pumping of excitement.

Forget neutral, trying to please everyone, supporting several target groups or any of the many ways to be unbiased. Viral marketing is 100% about emotions."

Look familiar? Express an opinion or an idea with commitment and dedication no matter how stupid or distanced from reality it sounds. Be an idiot or a genius. Be a compassionate person or a total egotistical bitch about it. Express it with reckless abandon to get everyone completely on your side or against you. That's just the first part of it. This next part is the most recognizable.

"Another important element is to connect with your audience. Remember you got their attention, they are excited and now they want talk. Comments is one of the most effective ways to do this.

Keep in mind that the best viral marketing campaign is one that creates a strong emotion. This means some people will really like it - while others will get very angry. You have to accept both in your comments, and you have to welcome both opinions. But, at the same time you must prevent individuals to wage war against each other.

It is not a sin to delete comments from people who attack another person, or if the comment is off-topic. But, it is a sin to delete comments from people who just have an negative opinion.

And, most importantly. Connecting with people through comments means talking back. Do not add comments if you do not want to participate yourself."

This is all too common on NeoGaf. One of the most notable examples is in the "Day One DLC" thread which was brought to light by Sean Malstrom. In instances like this you'll occasionally see marketers pushing for whatever thing is being discussed. In the DLC thread it was the notion that buying a game new to get unlockable content that is already on the disc is the right way to go, and it's capitalism so that makes it right. Damn the fact that it's very anti consumer, and is often done to nickle and dime someone to death over an already expensive purchase to begin with.

So who's doing the viral marketing in these cases? It's pretty common for Parent companies to get marketing firms to do their viral marketing. One example is Zipatoni with it's failed "All I want for Christmas is a PSP" campaign. Other failed viral adventures can be found on VGChartz's top ten dumb video game PR moments. The thing is it's the failed attempts that people notice. The successful attempts tend to slip by without any mention, except for in hindsight, Which is why I'm posting this for you, dear reader. The goal of viral marketing is to generate interest in a certain agenda. It could be something as simple as Buying a Whopper, or a Big Mac, to buying a Wii/DS/PSP/PS3/360, or it could be to push more seriously anti consumer things like full-on digital distribution in lieu of things like cartridges or discs. Now you know, and Knowing is half the battle.

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