We are all susceptible to the pull of viral ideas. No matter how smart we get, there is always this deep irrational part that makes us potential hosts for replicating information.
— Neal Stephenson
Even though Google is one of the largest companies in the world, they have been known for small public-awareness budgets and a penchant for guerrilla marketing campaigns. Google’s Gmail was first launched in 2004. Despite the size of its market today, the beginnings of the enormous email service were quite humble. They were, in fact, crudely inconspicuous. Admission to use the new Gmail service was only granted if you were invited by one of the current members who themselves were handpicked for the roll out. This type of marketing strategy, called “market scarcity,” has been used for centuries to create interest and growth. However, this tactic has usually been employed in very elite and expensive social settings, such as affluent restaurants or private clubs.
This launch was not targeted to the affluent per se, it was for a free product that would ultimately be marketed to the Masses. The strategy worked, and Google redefined the word “viral” in terms of contrarian tactics. People simply wanted to know what was so great about the new product that you had to be selected by a current user to join. Gmail’s Ambassadors created a global fire of interest. Gmail is now the third largest email portal in the world.
Osmosis is a biological term that refers to the net movement of solvent molecules. In layman’s terms, Osmosis is the physical process by which something moves net of the output of energy. Spreading the word by Osmosis (by someone else’s energy) will always go farther, faster, and at less expense than organic growth (by your own energy). This concept is a key component for new age business leaders to master.
5 Ways to use Social Media to create Osmosis Growth
- Build Trust through Value– Building trust online is difficult. There is no handshake, no looking into the eyes of the person you are connecting with. The only true way to build trust through social media and to create Ambassadors who will spread the word for you, is to offer something of real and relevant value. Are you offering content to check a box or is it actually applicable and usable? Is the value from your product, project or purpose real and relevant?
- Create an Experience- One thing is certain when building Osmosis Growth online, people are committed to sharing their experiences with others. Are you building a good experience, a bad one? No experience at all? You see, the experience is the impression that is made and is controlled by your Brand, Content, Delivery and what I like to call Actionability (Can it be used). Here is an interesting fact: 55% of consumers who have a positive experience tell others about it. 79% of people who have a negative experience share their feedback with others. Check out this short video on this concept: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHx1E_pt_DQ
- Be Intentional– People often approach online dialog as if it is a tool that should be thrown about carelessly as if they are simply checking a box and getting it done. You must be able to be strategic and intentional with your content. Concentrating on the target as if they were the only person(s) in the world. Everything else is insincerity, and most people will see through that pretty quickly. People who have the ability to see and access the dynamics of productive, intentional dialog are those with the ability to sincerely connect with each person they encounter through social media. The result is often lines of connection and communication that create real relationships. Remember, you are trying to create Ambassadors for your cause. People who will forward your initiatives with as little energy and effort from your resources as possible
- Concentrate on Transferability- The secret to creating Osmosis Growth is the transferability of your story/ initiative. Ambassadors are significant because they always know the story of their sender. With that being said, the experience (story and value proposition) must be digestible and be able to be regurgitated with precision. In short: The message you want to deliver through your Ambassadors to the world or to your market must be clear, concise and pack one heck of a punch.
- Reward your Ambassadors- This is not a very easy concept to execute. To reward people, you must first be able to accurately track the results or the best efforts from your fans. Whether it’s a share, a re-tweet, an email or even a verbal introduction to your initiative, Ambassador’s enjoy being thanked and even tangibly rewarded. An example of this is the company Ebars who actually has created codes for their Ambassadors, giving them the opportunity to be paid directly for online sales of their products. Be creative, you can find a way to appreciate those who carry your flag!
Identify the Science and Embrace the Art
Just as in biological Osmosis, there is the presence of kinetic energy (energy caused by Motion) within an idea that causes it to go viral. The key to Osmosis growth is that the creator of the idea is not the one expending the energy. As a young entrepreneur, I wish that I would have harnessed the art and science of using the power of Osmosis by creating Ambassadors a long time ago. Better late than never!