Wobblin’ all over the world: Three Lessons on How To Capitalize When You Go Viral

About two months ago I met with a guy named Nathan Navarro on behalf of Source Audio to put a new pedal in his hands. He had sent in some videos that he had done with the Hot Hand and we loved his work. He’s a great dude, a solid player, and he’s dedicated to putting himself out there. He’s a real tastemaker; someone whose choices influence others. Essentially, we figured that the cost of giving him the pedal was worth the potential upside of him, well, using it.

We had a lot of faith in Nathan, but apparently we underestimated him. About a month after our meeting, he came out with a video using Source Audio pedals that went viral, passing the 1 million view mark in less than three weeks after its release. Within days, our web traffic increased by about 25x and demand for our pedals skyrocketed to levels we’ve never seen.

In a previous post on this blog, The Discoverability of Brilliance, I tried to identify the key traits behind something that goes viral. My conclusion was that something needs to be remarkable and poignant to go viral. Nathan’s video fits that criteria perfectly.

The video is a live band cover of Skrillex, the white-hot dubstep talent who has made 2011 his year. No one had done live band dubstep before. It’s a branch of music based in electronica that in a sense uses the sounds of speakers and audio equipment as instruments. It’s designed to be played LOUD so you can feel the sound in your chest. Big distorted bass scoops known as bass wobbles make your stereo sound like a poltergeist jumped inside. Those bass wobbles are a genre defining sound that has for a while seemed impossible to create using actual instruments.

Fortunately for Source Audio, the Hot Hand that sat floundering for years became the solution to a problem that didn’t exist at the time of its creation: creating ‘organic’ bass wobbles. The problem was vexing enough to merit regular discussion on forums and even to spawn its own popular Facebook group.

All of a sudden, the necessary flair of using the Hot Hand that had once been thought of as a bit silly, is now rippling over the internet. YouTube videos of Hot Hand bass wobblers have started to appear en masse in just the last month. Here are a few:

So we went viral! Cake for everyone! Now what?

There’s all this talk out there about making something viral and not enough talk about what to do after something goes viral. I’ve learned from experience that it can be a bit of a let down to go viral and not be prepared to do anything about it:

So here we are with the big question: What do you do when you go viral? How do you capitalize it?

1.) Have an infrastructure in place ready to seize the excitement.

We were fortunate at Source Audio that we had already put a slew of videos in place that served to either ramp up excitement even further or to inform people on the nitty gritty details of each pedal. We had these videos because we were trying to chip away our place in the crowded world of effects pedals. Think of that as our running game and viral as our passing game. You can’t just lean on the possibility of an 80 yard touchdown pass to score. When Nathan’s video went viral, we had a slew of videos right there in the YouTube search results and related video fields ready to answer people who were asking, what is that thing? Even better, all of our videos pointed to a website that was designed to guide someone from ‘interested’ into ‘gotta have it’ into ‘bought it’.

Tip: Make sure to adjust the keywords and descriptions of all the content in your ‘infrastructure’ so that it tailors to whatever piece of content went viral. You’ll already have an advantage over competing search results if something about you went viral, but even the slightest change can make the difference of hundreds of views per day. Literally.

2.) Interact aggressively.

We spend a huge amount of time every day responding to comments on YouTube videos (not just on our own, but on any related to us), fielding questions in forums, generating conversation on our own Facebook page and in Facebook groups related to us.

We’ve found that people tend to have lots and lots and lots of questions before they make a final decision on buying anything. By tracking down their conversations and going to them, we not only get our message out there, we amaze them with our attentiveness.

Below are some really concrete tips from experience that can help you out on this:

Tip 1: Most forums give you the option of subscribing to threads, which is a great way to have updates on key conversations sent straight to your inbox. Make sure to not just push an agenda. You’re not just trying to make a sale, you’re participating in an existing culture and trying to foster your own.

Tip 2: Use Google Keywords to get notifications on any blog that picks up a story related to you. When they do, send them an email and thank them for giving you coverage. Keep in touch with them, interact on their site, and if you support them, they’ll be there for you when you’ve got a story to push.

Tip 3: If you’re serving as a face of a brand, decide ahead of time if you want your personal online accounts like Facebook and Twitter to be open to relationships formed through marketing. I’ve kept mine open and it’s been a really cool way to meet some awesome musicians. But that’s my passion so I’m happy. If you’re marketing toothpaste on the other hand…

3.) Don’t stop at the sale. People don’t exist to buy and sell things, they exist to share ideas.

Nike isn’t just shoes and sportswear. It’s the concept of pushing your boundaries and not letting yourself give up. ‘Just Do It’. Their sales may keep the lights on now, but its the idea their sharing with the world that gives them longevity and legacy. In the case of artists, generating a sincere following is the lifeblood for your entire career. So how do you define what your idea is and how do you spread it after the glow of going viral wears off?

Source Audio has an old-school feedback system built into the sales process. Sure, Facebook and Twitter are sexy right now, but you’ve got to have your blocking and tackling too. In our case, we’ve got a card included in every one of our pedals that offers a free ‘wired hot hand’, an obsolete version of the Hot Hand before it went wireless. To get the ring, all you have to do is email us and we’ll send you one for free.

The key here is that the person handling those emails is either going to be me or one of the other guys in the office here and not a computer or automated process. Even more important is the message we’re sending in our response: Here’s a hot hand. Use it and we’ll promote what you do…and in the meantime, tell us a bit about yourself.

The result is a growing community of constant sharing that exists beyond the realm of Facebook or Twitter. It’s a community full of evolving relationships not just based on Source Audio selling to customers, but based on the question, ‘How can we use the Hot Hand to create awesome music?’

So when Evan Marien, whose video I posted above, puts out that slick in-studio drum and bass video using the Hot Hand, he gives me at Source Audio some ideas for what I can do for the next fun video that we release. I’m sure Nathan is watching too. And so are guys like Paul, Dan, Christoph, Andres and all the other bad-ass bass players who are getting down on the Hot Hand. What can we do next?

Head over to the SOURCE AUDIO WEBSITE to see the videos, pedalboards pics, and quotes that define the evolving Source Audio community.

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