After a nice walk through Central Park and an afternoon feast of Chinese food – I sat down at my computer to write about viral marketing. While formulating some ideas, I casually looked up to see how many views were logged on a picture I posted earlier today from the park. I usually see around 15-35 views on my pictures, however this time I was surprised to see that my shot of the cherry blossoms near the central park reservoir had logged 324 views (link at bottom).

Turns out my picture had been “retweeted” by @EverythingNYC, then subsequently retweeted 11 additional times (by @Corcoran_Group, @NYITAwards, @blasiantendency, @MichelleRealtor, @Raphael_Bagi, @broadway_fan, @FashionRocka, @hudsonette, @VinoCaPisco, @mikebriggs2, and @EmilylovesBryan)

What made these 12 strangers pass my image on to their followers? Do they like me? Are they trying to promote me as an amateur photographer? (How nice of them!)

Unfortunately, I do not believe that these people were passing on my image to make a statement about me, the author (they don’t even know me) – but rather in reposting my image, they were trying to draw an association between the attributes of my image and their personal attributes. They did not post my image to promote me – but instead – they posted my image to promote themselves!

Based on this experience it seems clear that the success of viral marketing weighs heavily on finding messages that people will personally want to associate with. The secret is to help people promote themselves while also promoting you.

I suppose the hard part is actually finding the right ideas to make this concept to come to life. Perhaps a nature theme would work well? After all – who wouldn’t want to be associated with the first blossoms of spring, on a beautiful New York City day?


Going Viral
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  • Well, I suppose, but that’s almost tautological, or even just plain marketing – that is, marketing consists in making things people want.

    People don’t, oh, buy an iPad because they care about Apple the company, or the employees at Apple, or something: they care because they want the iPad, they want to associate it with themselves, and the more they want to make that association (the more pride they have in owning the product) the more they’re going to tell other people about owning the product.

    I guess that raises the question of what’s the difference between viral marketing and word of mouth marketing – are they the same? I’m not one to answer that question, but a possible demarcation could be that (i) word of mouth marketing is where people talk about your product, or an experience, whilst (ii) viral marketing is where people pass on something that is interesting in its own right, and only references the product/company in an indirect fashion.

    So “I Love Bees” ( was viral marketing, as an example. Your example, then, is _also_ viral marketing – all the more so by retweeting you, which retained your “ownership” to the picture.

    Meh. I can’t think too clearly, I’m afraid: too much thesis work.

  • dan

    Why do you think realtors were especially interested in retweeting it? Isn’t it also about what they think people want to have? And who doesn’t want that outside their door? My two cents.