viral collaboration marketing - upshare

If you’re following along in order, you will have just read all about the first two types of viral marketing: In both instances users must interact with others while using the product so those they share it with will become users as well. This interplay between communication and interaction with others is central to the core value of the product. Products utilizing these two types of marketing can be massive viral hits. They can result in self-driving growth engines that, if executed well, can lead to giant acquisitions or IPOs. However, while many absurdly-successful companies have a strong viral component, it’s obvious that not every gigantic acquisition or IPO comes from a product that facilitates communication between users. In fact, most hugely-viral products DON’T revolve around communication at all.  So, what DO they revolve around?

Viral Collaboration Marketing – Solve Things Together

  Say you have a product that seeks to help a user solve a problem, or addresses a particular pain point. Developing that product to achieve this has been your main focus. You’ve finally succeeded and your customers are satisfied. How do you know they are satisfied? Because you’ve surveyed your customers and over 40% say they’d be “incredibly disappointed if your product magically disappeared tomorrow.” Not just somewhat disappointed. Incredibly disappointed. As a result you’ve reached a major milestone, and likely achieved what’s called a product/market fit (i.e. your product satisfies a strong market demand). Now you are ready to grow. Enter viral collaboration marketing. Viral marketing adds value to the user’s experience through the act of spreading your product to others. If your product’s goal is to solve a specific problem, allowing a user to solve it individually may suffice early on. But if you want to grow en masse, you’re going to need more than one person at a time using it. This can be achieved by allowing the user to invite others to collaborate. Let’s see a few examples for a better understanding of how this works.

Basecamp: When One is Good, More is Better

  Basecamp is a simple project management platform allowing users to get more done in a clear, simplistic way by effectively organizing your work. The interface is incredibly easy to navigate, and the value prop can be applied to any project anyone is working on. A person can use Basecamp by themselves to get organized on a one-man project. However, the product really shines when you add others to collaborate on a project. Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 2.23.06 PM With separate user roles for teams and clients, the value of the platform is amplified. You can now carefully organize and manage ongoing work in a professional manner across multiple people. Basecamp then grows virally as a result of delivering value in both a one-to-one and one-to-many format.

Dropbox: The More We Share, the More We Have

  Dropbox, a file sharing platform we covered in an earlier post, can help you store your own files in the cloud to free up space on your hard drive, and access those files seamlessly across multiple devices. Users can use Dropbox individually to store and access files, but the true power behind Dropbox lies in inviting others to share and collaborate in a Dropbox folder. dropox-social-media This amplifies the value of the service by saving a ton of time and headache.  Users would otherwise need to go through the painful process of trying to send files back and forth via email or some other means. With Dropbox, this is no longer necessary. Changes made by each party are reflected almost immediately on their collaborator’s end.

DrawSomething: Less Work, More Play

  But what if you don’t have a B2B utility like Basecamp or Dropbox? Fear not – viral collaboration marketing does NOT need to revolve around collaborating on work. In fact, it can be utilized by any type of product that solves a problem, but solves it even better when people come together.  Even if that just involves sharing a laugh with friends. DrawSomething, a pictionary-style app developed by OMGPOP, is a fun game where you can guess what your friends draw on their phones in a Wheel of Fortune-style way. Users can play with total strangers they’ve never met before, OR they can invite a friend to play with them. slide2 If these friends aren’t on the app already, you can invite them from your phone’s address book or via Facebook quickly and easily. Then you can collaborate together to solve puzzles and earn points. This invite action amplifies the entertainment value of the app. You’ll be able to laugh with your friend later about the hilarious things you drew and how terrible of an artist they are. It’s not the same value one would get from a B2B utility, but it adds value for its users nonetheless.

Viral Collaboration Marketing is Not Inherent

  It should be noted that sites or apps that leverage viral collaboration marketing are NOT inherently viral. This is because it is not an absolute necessity to invite others to gain value from using the product. In other words, you can use a product implementing viral collaboration marketing by yourself, without passing it on and still get some value. However, like with Basecamp, Dropbox and DrawSomething, the experience will be further enhanced if others get in on the fun. So the goal of any product hoping to benefit from viral communication marketing should be to make it as clear as possible that by inviting others to collaborate you will get more from the product.

It Takes a Village to Solve a Problem

  Viral collaboration marketing is possible when a product solves an in-demand problem in an intuitive way, and others can get involved to help solve the same problem. While users can get value from a product alone, the value of the product is amplified by inviting others to use it together. This shared collaboration can include:
  • Team members and co-workers
  • Contractors and consultants
  • Clients and customers
  • Colleagues and connections
  • Friends and family
And because the context is so specific and all parties involved have a strong desire to work together to solve the problem, your conversion rate on invites will typically be far higher than the invites sent via other forms of viral marketing. Of course, this entire form of viral marketing hinges on the fact that you’ve reached product/market fit. That is the point at which your market indicates that your product is their preferable solution to the problem they’re having. Until that time, your viral collaboration marketing campaign won’t be a huge needle-mover. It still may drive some growth from enthusiastic early adopters, but you should manage your expectations accordingly.

What’s Next?

  Most products usually only use one of these first three forms of viral marketing. However, the next one CAN and SHOULD be utilized by pretty much every site or service trying to grow.  

Want to See How Dropbox and PayPal Used Viral Marketing to Inject Steroids into Their Business?

What if your product or site doesn’t fall under the umbrella of the first three types of viral marketing? Should you give up all hope of viral fame and glory? Or is there another way to induce the hordes your way. Find out in the next chapter. (Hint: There is, and it’s powerful.) 
  What’d you think of this post?
  • What product did you use TODAY that uses viral collaboration marketing to grow?
  • Is there a product you’d LIKE to be able to collaborate with others on, but currently can’t?
  • Where should Viral Panda go on his next vacation?
Hit me on Twitter, or comment below.

Travis Steffen
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