Monday, April 26, 2010

Viral Campaigns Exposed. Other Ethical Options on Low Budget.

(To see this post as a video you can visit the iAM Facebook Page)

What does Viral Marketing mean?
Viral marketing refers to tactics used in marketing that encourage people to pass on your message who will then forward it to their friends and your message spreads like a virus, with obviously positive outcomes like increasing your brand presence and popularity.

You may have seen some YouTube videos with more than 100,000 hits and that’s an example of a viral campaign. Now, you may have thought like most do that these videos got so many hits because of their cool content. Apparently that’s not what gets them to become viral. According to this article by Dan Greenberg, companies like his are hired to put in time, money, and people to make such videos go viral. A direct quote from him, “good content is not necessary to get 100,000 views if you follow these strategies.” Some of the strategies he talks about: “Make it shocking, Have fake headlines, and appeal to sex.”

Now, I will be launching AWEtv, a local TV show about being authentic and thriving, very soon. So, I am interested in learning everything there is about making YouTube videos go viral. When I read the article by Dan, I was a bit surprised because I had not thought about this before and yet it is not surprising that businesses would resort to these measures. But I am interested in finding alternative ways that are organic and more authentic to who I am in getting the message out. So, I started my investigation online and speaking to people that I know in my social networks about what they are doing.

Summary of 5 different categories of viral marketing

1. Appeal to sex: According to Dan, “if all else fails, hire the most attractive women available to be in the video” And yes this works. If you check out this video on peak oil with the title, “Porn. Peak Oil. Enjoy” and a sexy dance video on the side, it got more than 2,63,000 views and the clean version of the same video, “Oily Cassandra gets clean,” got only about 2,100 views.

2. Hired Bloggers and comments: Getting influencers and popular Bloggers to share and speak about your videos is another tactic discussed. Also, posting comments using multiple accounts is another way to stimulate action on your channel or site.

3. Affiliate marketing: This is a little more organic than other forms discussed in Dan’s article. I have found this tactic used a lot by coaches graduating from a common program. In many cases we don’t know that and it feels like people are promoting each other because they have used their services but it is only because they are actively promoting each other because of some un/spoken agreement. So again, be cautious of using this because if consumers find out they can become skeptical of your integrity.

4. Coupons and rewards: A common way to get people to share the message is by offering them an incentive. E.g. A free report is a good way to capture people’s email information (this tip was offered by Satish Jalan) so they can be part of your email list. But a not so good tactic is like the one on Facebook and for which I actually fell. The one that says become a fan of Ikea and you will get $1000 coupon from Ikea and to be eligible they ask you to share the message with all your fb friends. You can offer coupons etc but do not have hidden agendas like getting people to sign up and sell their information to telemarketing companies.

5. You are a celebrity: Celebrities draw a lot of attention, so if you are one, it will be fairly easy for you to get the attention online. If you have expertise in an area you can earn a celebrity status but it takes time and a lot of hard work. I asked Danny Brown on twitter what he thought about viral campaigns. He was really nice and answered back, unlike many celebrities who don’t. His reply, “Viral is very hit and miss. Needs to be mix of right product/service, timing and luck and skill together :)” It took him “Almost 2 years and just being yourself :)” to get to where he is now with a following of 21,463 followers. You can also watch Chris Brogan’s video on what it takes to become an overnight success to find out it is not overnight but a lot of hard work.

I believe we can make our ideas, good ideas go viral. Below is a list I will continue to add to as I learn more about viral marketing on small budgets with integrity:

1. Use social networks
Use all your social networks like Blogs, Facebook and events to launch your campaign or video, Friends, Twitter, and email lists. And don't be afraid to post duplicates as people are busy and may miss it the first time.
I asked David Pakman from the midweek politics show and in addition to all social networks he talked about forums: “Lately we’ve also been starting to post strategically to certain forums where we know that the combination of traffic level and visitor interests would drive traffic to our videos and also create interesting discussion.”

2. Title and Tags
Create a unique tag, use it everywhere, and use #tags on twitter. We know that using sex in titles works as we saw in Cassandra’s videos, In contrast, Kris B. has been consistently producing good content that is intelligent and with a very fun unique style on her show, KrisCan. She shares her views on tags she uses for her show on peak oil, “Tags get hits. There's no doubt. The question is, is one willing to go that route to achieve the desired effect? I have thought long and hard about this for myself, but since the kriscan show is me and I am the show, I don't wish to be associated with that type of marketing. I'd rather take my chances with the family friendly tags, such as renewable energy, fossil fuels, peak oil, resource depletion, etc. This is more in harmony with who I am.”

3. Thumbnail:
YouTube picks the 3 images from your video including the middle one for your thumbnail. So make sure the middle image in your video is a good one. You can also change the thumbnails to keep it fresh.

4. Easy to share:
Make sure that viewers have options to share the content easily by allowing them to email it to their friends or share it with one click on their social networks like Facebook, Digg, and Twitter.

5. Worthy of sharing:
Ensure that people get some benefit from watching and sharing. E.g. entertainment, inspiration, good cause, free information and as David Pakman said, "an advance/preview/exclusive opportunity before it’s on our program" can be special benefits being offered.

6. Build a community:
Build an on line and offline community around your cause, brand, and message.

7. Add caption:
To make your video accessible to an under served population comprising hard of hearing people you can add captions to your videos.

8. Strategic Alliances:
Another good suggestion by David, "We do strategic trades/partnership with other YouTube channels, exchanging their posting of our videos with links directly to our channel/website for us providing a 30 second advertisement for their channel or website on our radio program."

9. Social Bookmarks:
Using social bookmarks like Delicious and Digg also helps.

And remember to be patient (it took Danny Brown almost 2 years to get to where he is now), be yourself, and be smart - learn about the new technologies and ways to market effectively.

What suggestions do you have for viral campaigns with small budgets and integrity?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Honest Talk: The Demise of Inspiration & The BreakThrough

This post shares my recognition of the natural progression in a project from inspiration to stress and struggle and the insight I had that released me from the stress so I can move with more ease.

The first part describes the natural progression in a project from inspiration to the demise of inspiration. And the second part describes the insight that set me free: No thing and no one is more or less important.

This post is relevant to you if you sometimes feel struggle and stress in your work and/or life in general. More importantly, this post will be of interest to you if you too are looking for answers that go beyond finding happiness as a temporary emotion; if you are looking to find the Truth that goes beyond positive stories spun by your mind.

The Natural Progression and The Demise of Inspiration

I have been feeling some stress recently. What started out as projects I am excited and passionate about started to feel stressful. This is the natural progression for my inspired project, which I am sure many of you identify will with:

1) Birth of an idea: Good ideas come from strategic thinking but great ideas are inspired. And I am talking about inspired ideas here. This is an exciting time as it presents an opportunity to engage creatively. There are endless possibilities and I am in the flow.

2) Initial stages of development: This is really exciting - collecting information, connecting with people, getting positive feedback from people. This is still an idea so I collect information that can help me make this dream a reality and I connect with people who can take it forward. Finding the right people and information escalates my excitement.

3) Taking the right actions: Now I have the people and information to carry forward the project and I need to start working on the project. I start to take the necessary actions and it feels good.

4) The Ego: All the positive feedback and my own imagination of how important this project is, how this can impact many lives and the culture at large is creating the Righteous ego in me – how this project deserves to be supported.

5) Feeling invested: I begin to realize there is more work than anticipated, because the project became bigger than I anticipated initially and just because life presents the usual obstacles. What started out as an organic idea that I was passionate about is now a big investment of my time and resources. Of course I will not settle for anything but the best.

6) The burden: I have created the highest expectation from myself now. And of course I have shared my excitement with so many people, so can feel the weight of their expectations (most if not all is my imagination). The project is no longer fuelled by inspiration but my drive to make this a success, by my expectations of making this a huge success. I have so many people involved, all the promises I have made. No this is really big and I am in charge here. So this is all my responsibility.

7) The demise of inspiration: Now all the creative juices have dried up with the weight of expectations and the righteous ego. All actions feel like a struggle and causing stress. A stressed out mind is not very helpful. It picks on all the negativity in the environment and makes it the only reality you experience and hence magnify.

I am left wondering, what happened to my inspired thinking, what about my mindfulness practice, all those years spent in understanding the deeper truths, why am I encountering struggle and negative thoughts about something I know to be fun and creative. If I don’t get it after all that I have experienced in my life (and lives if you believe in that), then what hope is there for me, especially when that is my work – mindful marketing? And if I am feeling stuck in my own mindful marketing, then how can I tell people about it. I feel fake.


One thing I do have is persistence – the persistence to understand my own mind and know my Self. Once I started to feel the stress and have thoughts of self doubt, I started to observe my mind. Not to get into the discussion of who is observing who, lets just say, I started to stay with my feelings and not resist or try to find an escape through positive thinking, which I am very good at also. But I wanted to find out the nature and origins of my thoughts so I stayed with the discomfort of these thoughts (as did my husband and am grateful to him for letting me be).

The BreakThrough…

Today morning as I was multitasking to get done with my breakfast so I can move on with other "more important" activities, I dropped the honey bottle and there was sticky mess all over the kitchen shelves and floor. I wet a cloth and started cleaning. All the stress I had been feeling came out in this moment and I gave up resisting the stress. In that moment there was a Knowing - No thing is more or less important. No one is more or less important. There is only this moment Now.

Are you thinking, how can all actions and all people be equally important? For example is cleaning dropped honey from the floor as important as lets say working on my big project to change the whole business paradigm? And my answer is YES. Because in that moment what was needed is cleaning the floor or it would attract ants and the cats would be all over it and making the whole house dirty. So what was most important in that moment is cleaning and not the project to change the world. How we decide what is important is relative to what is needed Now, in the present moment. So no job is superior or inferior. And similarly, no person or identity is more desirable than others, because we are all needed at different times in our lives.

There was an immense release in that Knowing. The burden that we carry of doing something important, of becoming someone, it all went away. We are all the same, just doing what we need to be doing, going about our lives. As long as we stay with that reality as the only reality - of doing things to take on a desirable identity, we will go through the highs and lows that go with the game. And you may choose to stay in that game as long as you like.

I have lived through enough games and am bored and tired of these games. I am choosing out - I am choosing to see beyond the games our mind plays. I am choosing to See what Is beyond these mind games. I am choosing to relax and Be in this moment fully. Any desire to be an identity is relinquished because I know it is only an illusion I am chasing. I Know that I already Am just as every One is, That...

What Next?

This doesn’t mean that I don’t do what needs to be done. On the contrary, it only means I do what needs to be done NOW without any resistance and with more ease, because now there is no pressure to become someone or something. I am at peace with what Is.

I also understand that ego continues to exist as long as we have a physical form and it will try to take over from time to time, which is its nature. I accept that as part of my Self. And the next time that happens, I will listen to what else I need to learn about my Self and learn to move with even more ease.

What does this mean for you?

We are all the same and yet we each need to find our own Truth. Surrounding ourselves with wise people and wisdom is good, but not enough, if you want to break out of the mind games and move with more ease. You will need to do the work of really living and learning for yourselves. What I know is that where this is a will there is a way – even to finding your Self.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Should You Share Your Presentations Online & How?

(You also see this post online as the iAM Tip of The Week on YouTube)

Should you share your cool content online?

Okay, so you are awesome and you worked really hard creating an awesome presentation. Now should you go and post it online for the whole world to see? YEAH! In case you are wondering if that is a good idea because people will copy your content, lets do a reality check here. You are not the only one producing good content, there are thousands of really cool people with way cool ideas and content sharing their work online. So if you don't you are really losing out the opportunity to share your cool ideas and connect with the world.

In addition, there are three other reasons why you should share your presentations online:

1) Sharing your presentation online is value addition for the audience at your workshops as they can go back and see it again. If there are any questions they have at a later point, they can come back to you and you can keep your connection alive with them, which is always a good idea.

2) You can share your presentation slides with other workshop organizers to give them an idea about your style and work. You have already put in the work so may as well share it and use it to get more presentation opportunities.

3) All those people who were not sure about your workshop can now take a look at the cool content they missed and will help them make a more informed decision in the future.

What is the best way to share your online presentations?

Mashable has a pretty cool list of 30+ sites to share presentations and slideshows but after trying several sites I found Slide Share and Slide Boom to be the best. They are both free and easy to use. Slide Share is suppose to allow Keynote uploads but mine didn't so I had to convert my keynote presentation to a powerpoint, which was actually very easy. Go to file, click export, and click powerpoint and it automatically converts it. You will loose some of the coolness factor because the fonts change but it is not so bad.

The main difference between the two sites is that Slide Boom keeps the transitions and Slide Share doesn't, so if you want to keep the effects Slide Boom is actually better.

To see how the slides look in both the sites you can see my presentation as an example. I would love to hear which format you preferred and why.

My social media presentation at the Mass. Small Business Development Corporation can be found here:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Social Media: What, Why, and How?

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lived Truths & Paradoxes In Your Business

What is Your Truth?

What are the Paradoxes you have experienced?

How do you Live your Truth in your work?

My writing and workshops often include my personal Truths that I have experienced and which make me who I am as a human being and mindful marketer. This post is a record of my lived truths and how they influence my business and I invite people to share their lived Truths.

Here area a few to start with and which I share in my website as the guiding beliefs of iAM Business Consulting:

We each have a unique combination of passions, skills, and experiences that can be channeled in meaningful and profitable ways.

Self-awareness is the foundation of authentic leadership

In addition to passion, there has to be laser beam focus on the purpose and 100% commitment to be successful

Our inner beliefs influence our external reality

Marketing can be mindful, authentic, and profitable, only if innovative

The only constant is change; we stop growing when we stop learning.

I loved the Paradoxes of Creativity post by Roger von Oech in which he quotes
creativity thinker Michael Michalko:

To create, a person must
  • Have knowledge but forget the knowledge;
  • See unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder;
  • Work hard but spend time doing nothing;
  • Create many ideas yet most of them are useless;
  • Look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different;
  • Desire success but learn how to fail;
  • Be persistent but not stubborn; and,
  • Listen to experts but know how to disregard them.
I liked the idea of sharing paradoxical truths - ideas that seem contradictory but in fact co-exist. Here are a few paradoxes that I have experienced in my life:

1) Be aware of thinking patterns shaped in the past to be creative in the present

(I did not realize that the assumptions and beliefs that shaped the way I perceive the world limited what I saw and how I made sense of the world. It was after a breakthrough I had in a Shamanic ritual and now my meditation practice that I can see how my past beliefs impact my judgment of any situation. By seeing the assumptions, and not being tied to them I can choose to see things differently and be more creative. Continuously examine assumptions that limit you.)

2) Being mindful in business is profitable. Yes, for many this is paradoxical.

(I have written about mindfulness in business and why it is beneficial to be mindful in business.)

3) You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it (Einstein quote)

(I have found that some of my most successful ideas were not an outcome of strategic thinking but inspired thoughts, when I was meditating or engaged in an activity that has nothing to do with the situation for which I found the solution. So loosen up, meditate, and silent the mind obsessing with the problem so you can hear the answers.)

4) In order to live a life of abundance, be free from desire for abundance

(You can replace the word abundance with anything and this principle applies. This principle is one of the trickiest because you cannot fake it till you make it. Either you Know this as your Truth or you don't. It doesn't work if you know it intellectually - you have to live it from every cell of your body. However, what we can do is have a self awareness practice, because as we realize the true nature of Self we move from desiring to Being. It is a journey...we may have found freedom from some desires and others we continue to gain more awareness about.)

5) To be
more productive, practice doing nothing regularly.

(All of the above points lead to this one. When we are busy we don't take out time for our selves and which is when we most need to find time for silence. By silencing the mind I have found the ability to have more control over my mind and choose my actions more mindfully, instead of running on auto pilot.)

Work done with playfulness and joy brings better results than when done seriously, all else being equal.

7) I get more done because I don't worry about what doesn't get done
I often get asked how I get so much done (and I don't know what that means because we don't know and can't compare how much we all get done but lets stay with people's perceptions). And I was thinking about this the last time someone said that and realized what helps me is that I am not attached to getting everything done. I am only one and am doing the best that I can, so what does get done YAY and what doesn't I will get to it when I can. I also write about dealing with stress and moving with ease in my other Blog. In addition points 5 and 6 also help. (Added on 4-19-10)

So, the purpose of this post is to create a list of lived truths along with the many paradoxes that we have experienced personally and which have greatly impacted who we are and therefore also our business. The main criterion here is that you should have experienced it for yourself. It may be a popular belief or proven by science, but has it been your personal experience? And if so, I hope you will share your Truth, the absolute truth that you believe with every cell of your body here.