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The great thing about word of mouth is that it is naturally directed towards an interested audience. You are not going to tell your sports mad buddy about the new restaurant your girlfriend likes, but you will no doubt tell him about a new season ticket deal of his favorite sports team.
There is a restaurant called “Please Don’t Tell” in Boston: you can read the book Contagious for the full details. This restaurant can only be accessed through an old phone booth at the back of a hot dog joint. You have to pick up the phone and dial “2” to make a reservation. They only take 50 reservations a day and they are booked months in advance! The thing is secrets don’t stay secret for long. The owners were very clever when they came up with this idea. Before you leave the restaurant , if you are lucky enough to get a reservation, you get a plain business card that says “Please Don’t Tell” with a contact number on the back. If you tell a friend about this place you gain a lot of social currency by looking like someone in the know, it makes you look cool, and people crave this feeling. The trick with social currency is that you must give people a way to make themselves look good. You can achieve this in a couple of ways:
Inner remarkability: Blendtec makes blenders and they were struggling to come up with a good advertising/marketing plan when the owner decided to do something crazy. He took the blender and on a handheld camera made YouTube movies where he blends anything from cell phones to marbles. It was a hit and they received millions of hits. Snapple places weird facts under the caps of their drinks. People share these facts all day long and they tell people they read it under the Snapple cap. Leverage game mechanics: The absolute leaders here are the airlines with their frequent flyer programs. It gives you social currency to have a black or platinum card, you brag to your friends about the free flights you got, or how you flew business class thanks to all your miles. It becomes a fun game and that is the trick when it comes to leveraging game mechanics, it has to be fun. Anybody heard of Fantasy Football?
Feel like insiders: Rue La La is a clothing website that has flash sales for their members only, where they get huge discounts. People tell their friends about these bargains they got, but that only they can get it because of their membership, this makes them feel like insiders. The same concept is at work with special airline lounges for example. Make someone feel like an insider, and they will spread the word about your product or service.
Scarcity: The McRib is basically tripe, but because McDonald’s doesn’t serve it all the time it has become very popular. There are websites telling you where you can buy a McRib Burger and for how long they will be available. The Facebook page for McRib is very active, and people are seeking these burgers out as if it was some sort of gourmet treat. All of this just because McDonalds made it scarce, and people want what they can’t have. So, if you want something to go viral and attract loads of free targeted traffic to your website or business , you can experiment with the above. All these methods are proven and they will not disappoint. Have fun and try them out.
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