Is Language an Important Factor in an Explosive Viral Strategy?

How to avoid global marketing campaign duds!

globally explosive viral strategy

In his book The Lean Startup opens in a new window, Eric Ries argues that for any viral strategy to work, the viral coefficient has to be greater than one. Or to put it simply, for each person that uses your products, you want to automatically trigger at least one additional person to become a user. The higher the viral coefficient is, the more successful your viral marketing strategy becomes. Once you have an explosive viral strategy in place, the challenge becomes not to limit its explosive potential growth.

Viral Marketing and Languages

Today, viral marketing continues to gain credibility in creating engines of growth. This is done locally and globally by a multitude of startups and larger organizations. Viral tactics however are not a recent phenomenon!

In the early 16th century, Martin Luther nailed his Disputation on the Power and Efficiency of Indulgences on the door of a church in Germany. Written in Latin, mainly scholars in academic circles initially debated the 95 Thesis. It is interesting to note that not till it was translated into German and distributed in pamphlets that the message turned viral and spread within days across Germany and  within weeks across Europe. The Vatican’s defense, although massive, arrived in impeccable Latin pamphlets only. Luther’s work in German spread like wildfire while the counterargument in Latin fizzled.

Recent Language Related Viral Example

In a more recent example of a successful viral strategy, WebDialogs in 2007 implemented an ingenious international campaign. With two other established players in the market, competition was fierce, and WebDialogs was struggling to gain market share. Its small marketing team then struck a deal with Skype allowing any Skype user to download a free copy of a pared-down version of its software. Skype users used the software to share their computer screen with all of their Skype contacts. Before WebDialogs released the new software, its marketing staff astutely asked us to localize it into 20 languages. Then they simultaneously released it worldwide with a smart up-sell strategy. And Voilà, an explosive viral strategy was born! Within a few weeks, WebDialogs acquired more users than it had amassed since its inception. Within months IBM acquired them.

Language Enable Explosive Viral Strategies

Proper use of language has been instrumental in the success of global viral marketing strategies for centuries! With the advent of the internet, social media and instant communications across the globe, having a multilingual marketing strategy is even more vital. It is not hard to see the value of language in the above examples. Yet, many companies today still fret over establishing a sensible translation and localization budget allowing them to scale globally.

Translation and localization are enablers. Their absence will hinder your global marketing strategies, possibly triggering that awful fizzled outcome! But don’t just look for a translation agency that only offers translation services opens in a new window; look for a partner that can also help you achieve your global vision!

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