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How To Go Viral Using Crowd Marketing For Brands

How To Go Viral Using Crowd Marketing For Brands

In today's constant digital bombardment, traditional advertising techniques are becoming less and less effective. People can easily recognise and ignore overt promotional messages. The more intrusive an ad is, the more likely potential customers will tune it out. This poses a challenge for brands – how can they effectively promote their products and services in an increasingly ad-fatigued society?

One innovative solution that is gaining traction is crowd marketing. Unlike traditional advertising, which comes directly from the brand, crowd marketing utilises passionate customers to spread the word about a product they love organically. The key is finding natural brand advocates who will rave about your company authentically without it feeling like a sales pitch. This air of authenticity helps crowd marketing blend in with everyday social conversations and content, so it flies under the radar as advertising. Brand messages spread rapidly and organically through networks of brand lovers, creating viral promotions.

Crowd marketing can take many forms. Brands can incentivise shares, likes, and positive reviews from their biggest fans. They can also recruit select influencers that organically match their target demographic and brand voice, empowering them to creatively integrate branded messaging into their content. No matter the tactics used, the ultimate goal is leveraging networks of authentic, passionate supporters to spread brand awareness in a way that feels natural rather than intrusive to potential customers.

In today's article, we will explore crowd marketing in more depth. We'll look at its benefits over traditional advertising in today's climate, specific crowd-marketing techniques brands can leverage, and real-world examples of companies successfully employing this strategy. The right crowd-marketing approach can be a game changer for building brand awareness and driving conversions in the modern digital landscape.

What is Crowd Marketing?

What Is Crowd Marketing

Crowd marketing refers to attracting a target audience by posting positive comments and reviews about a company, product, or service on various online platforms like forums, blogs, and social media. The key is that these comments come from ordinary users, not officially from the company itself.

When done right, crowd marketing can quickly go viral as real customers and fans share their experiences organically. Many examples of Reddit users leave glowing reviews of a product that thousands have massively upvoted and seen. The key is identifying communities and discussion platforms where your target demographic hangs out. For example, a car repair shop would want to get mentions on car enthusiast forums, while a baby product company would aim for parenting message boards.

An essential aspect of crowd marketing is that the comments and posts cannot appear directly from a company or brand. Instead, they should seem like authentic endorsements from real customers or users. This means carefully choosing the messaging and tone and avoiding overt advertising language.

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Crowd marketing also allows you to obtain backlinks to your website, which is extremely valuable for SEO and search engine rankings. While many sites will tag such links as “nofollow” to avoid manipulation, backlinks still provide benefits. If actual users visit your site through crowd-sourced links, that activity will still be measured and counted by search algorithms. Backlinks also improve external optimisation factors and your site's anchor text variety. Many companies even purchase crowd backlinks as part of their digital marketing strategy.

The more crowd backlinks and mentions a company can generate, the better chance that some of that content will go viral on social media or forums. This organic reach is extremely valuable for increasing brand visibility and authority. While problematic to guarantee viral success, crowd marketing remains one of the most effective methods for expanding audience size and reach.

How Does Crowd Marketing Work In Viral Brand Promotion?

Word Of Mouth Marketing Definition Explained

Crowd marketing is an innovative promotional strategy that leverages social media platforms and online communities to spread brand awareness organically. However, implementing a successful crowd marketing campaign requires careful planning and execution across several vital steps.

Phase 1: Preparation

The first stage of any crowd marketing initiative involves conducting extensive research on your target audience and identifying the online platforms where they are most active. Look for forums, subgroups, and niche communities that align with your brand values and products.

Resist the urge to immediately hard-sell your product through paid links and ads. Instead, focus on organically integrating your brand into these spaces by creating accounts, understanding community guidelines, and developing relationships with influencers and power users. Consider hiring an experienced social media manager to handle this crucial groundwork.

Phase 2: Seed Content

Once you've identified the suitable venues, start posting high-quality content that provides value for that community, whether it's advice, entertainment, or education. Leverage any team members with subject-matter expertise to contribute posts that position them as thought leaders.

The key is providing relevant information that sparks organic discussion and interest around your niche, attracting your target demographic without aggressive sales pitches. Build authentic connections and foster loyalty among customers.

Phase 3: Amplification

If your crowd marketing content generates genuine word-of-mouth momentum, community members will naturally begin to share and reference your brand. At this point, focus on amplifying that organic reach by responding to mentions, reposting content, and finding new opportunities to highlight delighted customers.

Optimise your owned platforms, like your website and social channels, to make it easy for interested users to learn more about your products or services. Provide clear calls-to-action to capture and convert this crowd-driven traffic.

How Does Crowd Marketing Affect Brand Awareness?

Boost Brand Awareness

Crowd marketing is an effective way for brands to increase awareness and engagement with their target audience. Here are some of the key benefits of utilising crowd marketing strategies:

  • Increase Brand and Product Awareness: Getting your brand name and products mentioned frequently online helps build familiarity. Strategic crowd marketing on sites and platforms frequented by your target audience will organically spread information about your company. The more people talk about you, the faster your visibility and reach grows.
  • Drive Website Traffic: Crowd marketing creates opportunities for others to share links to your website through mentions in blogs, forums, reviews, social media posts, etc. This incoming linkage helps increase referral traffic to your site. The key is to spark conversations about your brand on platforms where your audience is highly engaged.
  • Improve Behavioural Metrics: By attracting potential customers through crowd marketing, you can reduce bounce rates and improve other behavioural factors on your site. More engaged visitors tend to browse more pages and convert at higher rates. This provides signals to search engines that your content is valuable.
  • Boost SEO Rankings: Crowd marketing efforts hugely impact Organic search engine traffic. Earning backlinks, mentions, and engagement through community-driven promotion complements traditional SEO tactics. This holistic approach makes your brand more visible and authoritative in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
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The most significant advantage of crowd marketing is its ability to create viral momentum for a brand. Genuine conversations spread through an engaged community build trust and interest. People are far more likely to repeat behaviours and share content they see gaining traction amongst their peers. A single influential post can spark a viral brand effect.

When It Is Not Recommended To Use Crowd Marketing

Crowd marketing is a universal promotional tool that can be highly effective. However, crowd marketing would not be the most rational strategy in certain situations.

  • Promotion of offline venues and local organisations. For location-based businesses like retail stores, restaurants, and community centres, crowd marketing on a broad scale may not generate a large flow of foot traffic or local customers. This is because crowd marketing casts a wide net geographically, while these types of businesses require targeting a narrow local audience. Other forms of localised marketing may be more impactful, like flyers, local events, and community sponsorships.
  • Promotion of highly specialised companies and services. Crowd marketing relies on viral sharing and word-of-mouth recommendations. However, some companies operate in narrow, complex, or technical fields that everyday consumers may not fully understand. Their target audience is small and gathers in closed communities inaccessible to the general public. For these specialised businesses, content marketing, industry events, and niche outreach may better reach their niche professional network.
  • Promotion of low-quality or uninformative websites. Driving large amounts of traffic to a website that is empty, incomplete, or provides little value is counterproductive. The high bounce rate from visitors leaving immediately harms search engine rankings more than good. Improving the website quality and content before utilising crowd marketing to increase visibility is better. Helpful information, engaging design, and a smooth user experience help convert visitors to customers.

In summary, while crowd marketing can expand reach, specific contexts require a more targeted and niche approach to connect with the right audiences successfully. The nature of the business, website, and target demographics should inform promotional strategies. Rather than relying solely on blanket crowd marketing in every situation, a thoughtful and strategic marketing mix is critical.

What Types Of Messages Can Be Used To Promote Brands Virally?

How Viral Marketing Works

Social media platforms provide various options for brands to promote themselves virally through user-generated content. Some practical approaches include:

Organic Comments with Links

Naturally written comments on forums, blogs, and social media that mention a brand name or product and include an active link back to the company's website or social pages. The key is that the comment must read as authentic, not promotional.

Casual Brand Mentions

Posts and comments that bring up a brand positively but do not contain active links. This approach organically builds brand awareness by circulating the name without outright promotion. The tradeoff is that it provides less opportunity for direct traffic.

Genuine Review Posts

Honest reviews are shared on consumer review sites and forums. Positive brand experiences posted on trusted review platforms help build credibility and SEO. The reviews must read as natural customer perspectives, not marketing fluff.

Influencer Endorsements

Partnerships with influencers who have engaged followers in a brand's niche. Influencers can provide testimonials, behind-the-scenes content, and product placement opportunities. Brands should ensure influencer values align authentically.

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Referral Programs

Incentives for customers to refer friends and share about the brand through their social networks. Referral rewards encourage organic word-of-mouth and viral sharing.

User-Generated Content

Reposting and highlighting authentic social content created by customers themselves. This leverages satisfied customers' networks and provides fresh, relevant perspectives.

The key to effective viral promotion is providing value and entertainment for the audience rather than overt sales messaging. Subtle, creative approaches tend to get shared more.

The Best Types Of Websites For Crowd Marketing

Best Crowd Marketing Websites

Crowd marketing campaigns can only be effective if you have chosen the right platform for backlinks and promotional comments. 

Pay attention to this even when buying backlinks on particular services. Experts identify several successful types of sites for this type of brand promotion. 

Thematic forums

Online forums cover many topics, with threads discussing everything from homemade borscht recipes to DIY car repairs. When participating in these forums, it's vital to approach advertising and promotion carefully.

An excellent first step is to make a few regular contributions to get a sense of the community and show you're an actual participant. Comment on the main topic with relevant experiences or advice. Ask follow-up questions to bring more details into the conversation. These initial posts establish you as a valued member rather than just someone there to promote.

Once you've made some initial contributions, you can look for appropriate opportunities to mention your business, website, or other offerings. For example, on a thread asking for good places to buy parts, you could say, “If you're looking for X, my shop at [URL] has a great selection and ships quickly.” Make sure any promotional content directly relates to the discussion at hand.

It's also better to link to your site rather than explicitly advertising. Saying “Check out my Etsy shop here [link]” comes across as more natural than “Everyone should buy from my Etsy shop.” You want to avoid sounding pushy or sales-y.

The key is adding to the conversation first, then bringing up your offerings only when relevant. With this soft approach, you become a valued member of the community who also has something to contribute, not just someone there to promote yourself. Done right, participating in forums can be a subtle and effective way to connect with potential customers.

Review and recommendation sites​​

Positive reviews are crucial for any business looking to increase sales and build a strong reputation online. As we mentioned, you'll want to encourage more positive reviews actively, especially if your company already has negative ones. The goal is for the positive feedback to outnumber and overshadow any negativity.

This is true across review platforms – not just on your website but also on third-party sites like Yelp, Google Maps/Business, Facebook, etc. Pay extra attention to your Google My Business listing since it appears prominently in local search results. If you have a physical location, you want those Google Maps reviews to portray your business in the best light possible.

Any negative reviews on these public platforms need to be handled with care. Try to resolve customer disputes or dissatisfaction issues that led to bad reviews in the first place. Reply professionally to negative feedback, apologizing and seeing if the problems can be rectified. The goal is to turn detractors into promoters of your business.

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Cultivating positive reviews and mitigating negative ones is essential for reputation management today. Reviews influence how potential customers perceive your business when researching options online. A crowd marketing strategy revolves around developing a brand fans are eager to support and recommend. Part of that is an overwhelmingly positive presence on review sites and social media. Put effort into building and maintaining a stellar online reputation, and the sales will follow.

Social networks

Social media platforms offer endless opportunities for crowd marketing and promotion. On sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, brands can use organic content and paid ads to connect with target audiences and influencers. Some key ways to leverage social for crowd marketing include:

  • Creating engaging organic posts about your product, service, content, etc. This builds brand awareness and gets your message in front of your existing followers. You can share content like blogs, videos, infographics, behind-the-scenes footage, user-generated content, and more.
  • Running paid social ads to expand your reach beyond just your current followers. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have highly targeted ad options to get your content and offers in front of relevant users.
  • Seeking out and connecting with micro-influencers and brand advocates who can organically share your content and message. Identify users with engaged followers in your niche and build relationships.
  • Participating in relevant social conversations and communities. Look for trending hashtags and topics to add your voice to authentically.
  • Leveraging social listening to identify new opportunities and crowds to tap into. Monitor conversations around your brand, competitors, and industry to find new ways to engage.
  • Commenting on other relevant accounts' posts to raise awareness. This can introduce your brand to new audiences in a natural way.

The critical difference from general social media marketing is that crowd marketing on social is more about tapping into existing communities and conversations vs. simply broadcasting your content and messaging. By taking an authentic, value-added approach on social platforms, brands can build crowds and advocacy without aggressive self-promotion.

Q&A sites

Quora Market Research

Question and answer (Q&A) websites have become an invaluable resource for brands looking to engage in subtle but effective crowd marketing. By providing thoughtful answers to users' questions, brands can organically promote their products and services to a highly targeted audience.

The critical advantage of Q&A platforms is that recommendations appear natural and helpful rather than overt advertisements. When a user asks for suggestions on which laptop to purchase, a brand rep can respond with a detailed answer spotlighting their latest model. As long as the information is relevant and valuable, mentioning a specific product feels like a genuine recommendation instead of a sales pitch.

Q&A sites attract people searching for solutions, opinions, and expertise on every topic imaginable. This presents an enormous opportunity for crowd marketing. For example, a user inquiring about the best credit cards for collecting travel points provides the perfect opening for a financial services company to highlight their flagship travel rewards card and its industry-leading benefits.

Similarly, someone asking for advice on which streaming service offers the best original content gives a media company a chance to consider why their platform stands out from competitors. As long as the information shared is helpful and on-topic, these brand mentions feel natural rather than forced.

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With crowd marketing, the key is blending in. By taking advantage of the highly targeted questions posed on Q&A platforms, brands can seamlessly promote their products and services to engaged audiences actively looking for solutions. The community-driven nature of these sites makes them the ideal venue for crowd marketing strategies.

Information sites

While information sites like directories may not be the most potent platforms for crowd marketing, they should not be overlooked as part of an overall marketing strategy—repositories aggregate links and brief descriptions of company websites within specific industries and niches. In popular sectors, it's common for directories to contain hundreds of brand listings vying for attention.

Despite the high competition, I recommend claiming and optimising your business listings on relevant directories, primarily if operating in a narrow niche. Being present raises awareness of your brand's existence and offers another avenue for target customers to find you. While directory listings alone may not drive significant traffic, they contribute to a layered approach of casting a wide net across multiple channels.

Securing placements on niche-specific directories also signals to search engines that your business is recognised and trusted within your space. This can improve your SERP rankings for industry keywords and phrases. Optimise directory profiles with compelling descriptions, prominent calls-to-action, and backlinks to your website to maximise their impact. Keep information updated across directories to maintain accuracy.

While less critical for broad industries, niche directories represent a low-barrier and potentially high-return channel for fledgling and specialised businesses to expand visibility. They are helpful supplementary touch points within a more extensive crowd marketing strategy. Treat directory listings as valuable resources that complement your core platforms, like social media, SEO, email marketing, and paid advertising.

Blogs

Crowd marketing on blogs utilises two main strategies: blog posts and comments. Each serves a unique purpose in promoting a business online.

Blog posts allow for comprehensive content marketing. A longer-form article can thoroughly introduce a company, explain its values and mission, provide helpful information to readers, and position the brand as an authority in its industry. Well-written posts build trust and rapport with target audiences. They also offer opportunities to mention products/services while providing value to readers organically. Because blog posts require more time, effort and skill from writers, the cost to crowdsource them is typically higher than for simple comments.

Blog comments take a more direct promotional approach. Short comments left on relevant blogs allow a brand to natively insert links and messaging about its offerings. The focus is on visibility rather than value. Well-placed comments can increase brand awareness and drive traffic to products/services. However, overly salesy comments may be seen as spam. The key is finding the right balance to be authentic while promoting your business. Crowdsourced blog comments are relatively inexpensive compared to content marketing through posts.

In summary, blog posts and comments serve different crowd marketing purposes. Posts aim to build brand awareness and trust through valuable content. Analyses focus on driving visibility and traffic through native advertising. Both can be effective strategies, with the ideal approach depending on a company's niche, target audience, budget and overall marketing goals.

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Shared marketplaces

Over the past decade, shared online marketplaces have become a significant force in eCommerce. These marketplaces aggregate products from different retailers and brands into one centralised platform. This allows shoppers to easily compare selections and prices across multiple sellers in one place. Some well-known examples of shared marketplaces include Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Walmart Marketplace, and Alibaba.

The essential advantage of these marketplaces for buyers and sellers is their sheer size and selection. Shoppers can access millions of products in every category imaginable, from clothing to electronics to handmade crafts. Sellers get access to these vast audiences of buyers from around the world. Even small and medium-sized businesses can reach a global customer base by selling through a significant marketplace.

For retailers, joining a shared marketplace provides a powerful sales channel, distribution network, and eCommerce site. Many customers start their product searches directly on these marketplaces rather than individual brand sites. So, having a presence on Amazon or eBay has become essential for increasing visibility. Sellers must pay commissions and fees to the marketplace owners, but the volume of potential orders usually makes it worthwhile.

Shared marketplaces have fundamentally changed online shopping habits and expectations. Customers now rely on being able to browse, compare, and purchase products across multiple retailers in one smooth experience. These mega-marketplaces will likely grow in selection and dominance as more commerce shifts online. Any brand looking to sell products digitally must consider leveraging these centralised platforms as part of their eCommerce strategy. The convenience and choice they offer customers have become too big to ignore.

Native Crowd Marketing For Viral Brand Promotion

Creating viral brand advertising takes strategic planning and creativity. Simply bland comments and promotional posts will likely be ignored by most users. To capture attention and spark engagement, share visual content, unusual perspectives, marketing interesting facts, helpful tips, or insider secrets related to your brand.

Timing is also vital. Tie your content into current events, holidays, or pop culture moments whenever possible. For example, major holidays like Christmas or Easter are prime opportunities to connect your messaging to broadly relevant themes that users already have on their minds. Trending news stories or meme references can also allow you to tap into what's collectively capturing the public's attention at any given time.

With intelligent timing and creative content, you can organically integrate viral potential into your digital marketing instead of forcefully pushing impersonal promotions. Share your content widely across forums, blogs, social media, Q&A sites, and anywhere else your audience is actively engaged online. While outright advertising may be restricted on some platforms, you can get your brand name and messaging out there by authentically interacting with users.

The great news is that seeding viral content can be automated and scaled if done thoughtfully. Set aside time regularly to develop timely, creative assets and strategies. Then, use tools and services to publish and syndicate your content for maximum exposure. You can efficiently ignite your brand's awareness and visibility online with the right viral spark.

Conclusion

To conclude, crowd marketing cannot be rushed or done superficially if one hopes to achieve results. While speed and efficiency have their business place, they should not come at the cost of quality when utilising crowd marketing tactics. Taking the time necessary to develop an intentional strategy rather than hastily executing ideas without clear goals is wiser.

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A well-designed crowd marketing plan considers short-term outcomes like increased website traffic and long-term impacts like improved brand awareness. It targets specific demographics and niches, understanding that a broad, generic approach will not resonate. Most importantly, it revolves around creating relevant, engaging content that provides value for potential customers.

Without investing the time and effort to craft resonant messaging and build relationships, crowd marketing attempts can easily backfire, damaging brand perception and trust. For those lacking the expertise to effectively map out and manage an integrated crowd marketing strategy, seeking guidance from experienced professionals is highly recommended. Though it requires patience and dedication, a strategic, quality-focused approach to crowd marketing can yield significant rewards in the form of a more extensive, more loyal customer base.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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