My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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personalized viral marketing

A viral marketing campaign for Dexter (a “killer” new series) invites people to add information about their friends so that they’ll be sent a personalized video that makes them look like they’re next on the list of people a serial killer is targeting. The video site looks like a YouTube knock-off and there are thousands of views and hundreds of comments pre-populated for this “news” story.

This marketing campaign has already fooled a few. I received a concern message tonight from a friend whose friend received one of these and thought that some stalker had grabbed stuff from her Facebook. Turns out it’s just one of her friends playing a trick on her.

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8 comments to personalized viral marketing

  • Steve

    I know next to nothing about Facebook. But I can tell you how entertainers and other high-profile professionals handle this on MySpace. There is a profile designated for people one is close to in real life. Like friends and family. Then there is a profile for fans and/or prospective clients where the interaction has more of the quality of star/audience. Generally, i nthe “About Me” blurb the function of the particular profile is made distinct, and potential addees who would be more appropriate for the other profile are directed there.

    If Facebook allows multiple profiles per individual, you might want to try that strategy.

    Just a thought,
    -Steve

  • Ken

    Uh, at the risk of being pegged as an “old fogey,” I’m not sure I get the entertainment value of suggesting to someone that they might die.

  • Jeff

    I don’t understand. How could they possibly have thought this was real? The reveal is right at the end of the video. I think it’s extremely clever.

    Full disclosure: I’m already a fan of the show.

  • Steve

    OOPS!

    The comment I posted here was supposed to be for the post on loss of context in Facebook. Sorry.

    -Steve

  • As a test I just sent one of these “viral videos” to a friend and colleague who is a bit of a creative leader in the viral marketing space. There is an interesting twist to how this is set up to maintain suspension of disbelief- the page containing the video effectively masquerades as a video site with a representation of both statistics and views. While my friend understood that the video was a parody, the stats looked real, and thus she was worried that many people had, in fact, viewed a practical joke played at her expense.

    Marketing is ultimately about the outcome, so, I’ll let FX be the judge. I’d say that the campaign is tactically superb, and strategically deficient.

  • I have to agree with Charles, “tactically superb.” Are there also series about Nigerian banks and the UK National Lotto? I seem to have been receiving a lot of viral marketing advertising these also!

    I’d hate to see the video and comments for “Herbal Viagra”!

  • Adriana

    After I read the article on SNS and phishing, I knew this was only a matter of time. We have too much information out there that it’s easy for advertisers to pick up and use. For a while, that was an idea I toyed with for my dissertation.

  • The link doesn’t work anymore… 🙁