Occasionally a company creates the perfect storm when trying to promote their product or service via a new technique or channel, and inevitably becomes the proto-example used for years to illustrate how to get it right.
The recent success of DIY website provider Moonfruit may very well be the latest of these uber-case-studies. Their recent competition on Twitter increased traffic to their website by over 600% and got their brand over 30k followers on Twitter in a matter of days.
I won’t re-hash the story – several people have already done a great job recounting what happened. What I wanted to explore is specifically why this campaign worked so well and if it can it teach us anything that might be applicable to other campaigns.
The campaign inadvertently launched at the perfect time, as it was around the time that trending topics were given prime real estate on everyone’s Twitter side bar.
Coupled with the death of the King of Pop (Michael Jackson), this meant that users were paying close attention to trending topics, which means that something which gains enough momentum to become a trending term was more likely to spread virally.
Although the appeal of Twitter is growing and usage is spreading into all demographics there is still a ‘typical’ Twitter user. Many of this ‘typical’ group will have some nostalgia for Moonfruit’s glory days. I certainly did due to my early websites were hosted by Moonfruit. They were largely focused around me and my mate’s mountain biking stunts and didn’t get much traffic, but my fond memories of Moonfruit certainly encouraged me to spread the meme on the first day. I’m pretty sure this was a motivation for at least some other of the initial seeds.
This isn’t the first competition to spread virally on Twitter. In my whitepaper on Twitter I mentioned Namecheap who’d had huge success with a Twitter competition, It led to a twenty percent increase in sales. But why did this giveaway reach so many more people? I think the apple effect has a part to play. Giving away a Mac Book Pro is perfectly aligned with the Twitter community.
The most appealing laptop from a company favoured by the users of the site is almost a no-brainer as a prize. The fact that the prize wasn’t a product of the company also must have helped. Many of the competitions that have been successful on Twitter have been companies giving away their own products or services, and though appealing in many cases, it probably isn’t perceived as quite so generous.
Ease of entry
One of the first rules of viral marketing is making your ‘thing’ as easy to share as possible. Just cutting and pasting a hashtag is about as easy as it gets, and Moonfruit didn’t even make you follow their account which would have been a barrier to entry. However lots of people did choose to follow them.
Success breeds success
I’m not sure whether this was a deliberate policy but as soon as the campaign got any traction there was a lot of industry coverage of the success of their promotion. The coverage of how well they were doing won’t have done any harm in spreading the idea further. It’s an illustration of how in some circumstances the coverage you get with the industry press can justify a strategy regardless of whether it is a ‘true’ success with its target audience.