June, 5 2005
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Wednesday November, 22
A viral marketing campaign promoting a local guesthouse has generated internet interest, a website, an online video and lots of "buzz" for a local resort.
The Island House, in collaboration with the Needham Fatica Advertising Agency and writer and photographer Jason Rowan, have produced a viral marketing campaign that has gained substantial internet traffic. The campaign is the first of its kind in the Florida Keys Market.
The photo essay and accompanying movie, Room 103, was shot at the Key West resort in May 2006. Over 1500 photos were compiled and edited down to 600. Originally published in reFRESH Magazine in the UK for their October issue, the photos and story were then posted to the Room 103 website and YouTube.
"The original goal was to recreate the feeling of actually being at the resort," said Rowan, who organized the photo shoot. "I wanted to capture the tropical feel and atmosphere while highlighting the amenities the property offers."
Soon after, a number of internet blogs began reporting on the site and linking their readers to Room 103. When one of the largest and most popular online blogs, Fleshbot, linked to the site, visitors began to rise dramatically. With accompanying links to the Island House website, viewers also began to visit that site, bringing the marketing campaign full-circle.
Within 15 hours of being posted on YouTube, the video was ranked #5 in the Travel & Place category. Visitors to the Island House website had increased within 12 hours of the video and website launch.
YouTube is a popular free video sharing web site that lets users upload, view and share video clips. The company was named Time magazine's "Invention of the Year" for 2006, and was bought by Google in October for $1.65 Billion.
Viral marketing is a technique that uses pre-existing social networks on the internet to increase brand awareness and word of mouth marketing. Often, viral marketing will generate media coverage via "offbeat" stories worth many times more than the company's advertising budget. The idea is that people will pass on and share interesting and entertaining content to their network of friends or business associates, often through blogs and other internet sites.
For the Island House, this campaign also was an attempt to reach a new audience, one that is young, technically savvy and gets their information primarily online. With more than 50% of the US online population using the internet for travel information, the ability to market to this audience is crucial for tourist-based businesses. According to one recent study, as many as 62 million people a month visit online travel sites in the US market alone.
The Island House is an award-winning resort, voted Lodging Property of the Year in Key West. The owners have been savvy on-line marketers with a highly popular website and have been active and early users of pay-for-click and search engine optimization technology.
"We knew that if we created compelling content, in this case a photo essay with a story, that people would respond," said Island House owner Jon Allen. "And we knew if they responded to the story and the images, they would pass it along to their friends. That really was the whole marketing campaign, and it is becoming a highly successful one for us.'"
The Room 103 viral campaign was marked by carefully planned stages, starting with the print version in reFRESH magazine. That hit the UK market in October. Online websites began to report on the photo essay shortly after, with one website even printing "outakes" from the original photo shoot and repackaging them into a new story that was serialized over several weeks. As traffic and interest grew in the project, Rowan and Needham Fatica moved toward the web-exclusive launch and viral video which went live the week before Thanksgiving. The stages to the campaign built interest and capitalized on the word of mouth marketing and cross links with weblogs online.
"There is a lot of talk about 'web 2.0' and the new marketing opportunities available," said Needham. "We think this is a perfect example of how to use the new media for the benefit of our clients, and we hope the Key West market in general."
Jason Rowan, who conceived, wrote and photographed the Room 103 piece, is a freelance journalist and photographer who divides his time between New York and Key West, He has written for the Advocate, Cargo Magazine, MTV.com, the New York Observer, and the online blog Gizmodo.
The Room 103 magazine layouts, video and website were designed by Greg Needham of the Needham Fatica Advertising Agency in Key West. For more information, contact Greg at Needham Fatica, 305-296-9100, or email at email@example.com.
Room 103 Link:
Fleshbot Link (NSFW):
Island House Link:
Meerkat Products Ltd. Link:
reFRESH Magazine Link:
Needham Fatica Advertising Agency Link:
copyright 2006 Needham Fatica