What Rush Limbaugh Can Teach Us About Viral Marketing

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Rush Limbaugh

Things are looking pretty bad for Rush Limbaugh right now. After an inappropriate comment he’d recently made on the air, over 20 sponsors have dropped him in response to a highly publicized boycott.

In fact, it seems that Rush Limbaug has a major scandal every few years. How come he hasn’t been shut down yet? And why does such an offensive person continue to be so popular?

Learn to Generate Buzz
Whether you like him or not, you have to admit that Rush Limbaugh is very smart when it comes to generating buzz, and many online marketers and SEOs could learn from him.

Too many businesses simply focus on the benefits and features of their offerings. Usually, this is just the same old boring stuff that everyone else in their industry is promoting. In an effort to look “professional”, they try to tone down their message and be as generic, conservative and boring as possible.

Then, they wonder why it’s so hard to attract backlinks and PR.

Get Emotional

Think back to your favorite marketing campaigns. Think back to a time when an advertiser really caught your attention and made you love their company. Did they do it with a boring ad that focused on stale features and benefits? Probably not.

It’s much more likely that this marketing campaign played with your feelings somehow. Maybe they told a meaningful story that made you laugh or cry. Or, maybe they took a risk and stood up for a principle that you believed in.

Either way, it’s highly unlikely that the campaign that won you over had anything to do with the product being sold. Instead, you were probably affected by how the ad hooked you in emotionally.

Get Edgy
This is the secret to great viral marketing. And it’s also the secret to Rush Limbaugh’s career. Boring and neutral don’t get talked about. But edgy and controversial do!

Take our YouTube video channel for example. We’ve produced dozens of perfectly safe, high-quality, informative videos over the years. But our most successful video was a comedy rap video which drew a few complaints. But for every person who hated the video, there were hundreds more who liked and shared it.

Another recent successful video was an over- dramatic video about the Patriot Act. This one sparked a lot of heated political debate on social networks, and helped draw attention to our brand’s YouTube channel.

The thing about “edgy” content is that it gets people talking and sharing. People who love it will share it on Facebook, link from their blogs, and become loyal customers. But people who hate it will also spread the word, and force your fans to justify their allegiance and entrench themselves further in their position. Either way, you win!

Of course, there’s an exception. When this controversy crosses the line of theater, and becomes something which actually hurts people. There’s a very thin line between entertaining and hurtful, and it’s not always clear where the boundaries lie. This is where Rush Limbaugh really messed up.

Of course, he’s been successfully pushing the edge of propriety for many years, so you can expect the occasional mistake to happen.

This is the essence of good viral content.

Take risks. Be theatrical, funny and edgy. Take it as far as you can, without actually hurting anyone or bringing your brand into disrepute. And most of all, have fun.

As Oscar Wilde once said “A gentleman is someone who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.”

Image Credit: CNN Money

Article by Max Rowle

Max has written 1 articles.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Goa trip March 10, 2012, 2:27 am

    Overall this is nice info for how we can achieve success in our online marketing business.

  • CPR training March 10, 2012, 12:02 pm

    brilliant post, Rush Limbaugh is my guru, all of us online marketers and SEOs can learn tons from him

  • Supernova March 13, 2012, 6:34 pm

    I don’t think I want to create a stir as bad as Rush did, I don’t want anyone to boycott my site, lol but you made a good point. It’s impossible to please everyone all the time and not be really boring. A little hate once in a while is a good thing.