Viral training wheels

by Volker Weber

Remember the "I make viral videos for Lotus" comment? Funny thing is, it obviously did not generate any links to YouTube. Or least not more than 17 (see statistics on the video). The majority of the inbound links seem to be from two Lotus sites: Ed Brill and one guy I had not heard from:

Bilal Jaffery currently leads the worldwide web strategy and marketing for IBM Lotus Foundations and collaboration software group. More >

Both Bilal and Ed stress how many views this video has gotten within a very short period of time. These have completely died off, btw. Very short lived virus stem. One of the first comments on this video is from this agency:

Supercool Creative is an online video advertising and branding agency. We develop entertaining, engaging and unexpected online commercials, webisodes, branded entertainment, advertainment, viral videos, video publicity, integrated video websites, production, distribution and everything else that has to do with online video on your website or spread around the world.

There is a slight chance they have been involved in the making of this masterpiece. Once you have created your video, uploaded it to YouTube, how do you create a false sense of "buzz"? You send in the straw men. Read the comments:

  1. humblejiva loves two Lotus videos. He joined YouTube the day that the video was posted.
  2. dmill00 also loves the Ding Dong song.
  3. stevewiffer just joined YouTube the same day that humblejiva joined.
  4. edzevid watched 13,588 videos in two years. He may not have time to buy Lotus servers.
  5. wuvsss also joined the same day that stevewiffer and humblejiva joined. He has one favorite. Guess which one. He insults people who do not agree. Keeps praising just this one video.
  6. jesse222221 joined the same day that wuvsss, stevewiffer and humblejiva joined.
  7. kkant53 joined the same day that jesse222221, wuvsss, stevewiffer and humblejiva joined. kkant53 has not watched any videos so far but he finds this one a "nice, good clip".
  8. cococolasprite joined the same day that kkant53, jesse222221, wuvsss, stevewiffer and humblejiva joined.
  9. Brandonmccheese joined the same day that cococolasprite, kkant53, jesse222221, wuvsss, stevewiffer and humblejiva joined. Brandonmccheese has watched just this one video on YouTube.
  10. cl0wnparade joined the same day that Brandonmccheese, cococolasprite, kkant53, jesse222221, wuvsss, stevewiffer and humblejiva joined. Like kkant53 cl0wnparade has not watched any videos. But he finds this one "awesome".
  11. tttormmm joined the same day that cl0wnparade, Brandonmccheese, cococolasprite, kkant53, jesse222221, wuvsss, stevewiffer and humblejiva joined. Like kkant53 and cl0wnparade tttormmm has also not watched any videos on YouTube. About this one he has to say "LOL to the umpteenth degree!! good stuff keep it up, i WUVS it!"
  12. pimpstatus80 joined the same day that tttormmm,cl0wnparade, Brandonmccheese, cococolasprite, kkant53, jesse222221, wuvsss, stevewiffer and humblejiva joined. pimpstatus80 like kkant53, cl0wnparade and tttormmm has not watched any videos. He thinks "I liked the video it was funny and I hope we have a good season in cal." and "I like the wideo hope we have a good season in cal this season".
  13. Tommy7L joined the same day that tttormmm,cl0wnparade, Brandonmccheese, cococolasprite, kkant53, jesse222221, wuvsss, stevewiffer and humblejiva joined.
  14. bennyboom850 joined the same day that Tommy7L, tttormmm,cl0wnparade, Brandonmccheese, cococolasprite, kkant53, jesse222221, wuvsss, stevewiffer and humblejiva joined.
  15. More people joining later ...

So what is Bilal commenting on his own video?

  1. hahaha, niceee!
  2. lol

On LinkedIn he phrases it differently: Special focus on Online Marketing, SEO, SEM and Web 2.0 Social Media marketing.

Want to see a real pro? :-)

Update: I have now seen comments come and go on this thread. Some people have noticed the fact that a lot of comments are from people who just signed up to comment and insult those who don't find the spot "niceee". Their comments are disappearing though.


Isn't that fun? After that dreadful video about collaboration, I thought that was the bottom. But Lotus marketing can always surprise me, by making it worse. And then they even cheat themselves by creating traffic on youtube. How silly is that, when people like Volker are just waiting for it to happen? Instead of doing down-to-earth-marketing (more transpiration, less inspiration) Lotus marketing always tries to be extremely clever.
Unfortunately, when you read the comments of bilial, critique is for him just more praise of this “viral” (bruhahahahaha) video. He does not realise, that you and your blog – ups, pardon, c'est une site internet – have way more influence inside and, even more important, outside the Lotus community then he will ever have with his marketing (thank god). But he opened pandoras box and has to live with it.
IBM always praises itself for its business ethics, but if this spam story is true, they got caught with their pants down.
Where can I apply for the Lotus marketing department? There should be some job openings by now.

Christian Tillmanns, 2008-12-13

As I already commented: there is no quality in this video. Maybe I just am too stupid too realize the true intention of this video though I hardly believe that there is any.

Mathias Ziolo, 2008-12-13

@1 IBM might be ethical in doing business, but they are just not creative in doing commercials.

Look how MS opens it's conferences (this one is from 2002): hall full of attendees, babbling, darkness, thuderstrike, silence... applause.

Stipe Sumic, 2008-12-13

Good investigation Volker...its good to cast light on marketing practices. On the other hand, to suggest, as some are doing, that IBM was unethical in this campaign doesn't take into account that it was likely outsourced to a marketing production company that claimed success in producing viral videos. It would be in the interest of that third party company to "prime the pump" and send it to all their friends/family/acquaintances (basically everyone in the address book) and hope that it took off. Maybe even contractually the fee was based on hits and growth. If I was the marketing director and I thought it wouldn't embarrass me, I'd certainly have sent it out to everyone I know. Alas, the comments on YouTube could simply be well-wishers who just want to be nice to the sender knowing that this was a major project of theirs. If anyone was posing with different ID's trying to impersonate more people, that action would be unethical, but then again, it could be the production company committing this without the sanction of IBM. It doesn't make it right for IBM, but the worst thing this proves about IBM was that they were possibly naive, not necessarily unethical. I don't think any heads should be on the stake over this, as long as its recognized that errors were made and they will listen better to their customers about the type of marketing that will help make this product successful.

Roland Reddekop, 2008-12-13

I would not call for any heads rolling either.

Volker Weber, 2008-12-13

Wow nice, I commented the video on youtube regarding those fake accounts and my comment was deleted. Instead another fake account is calling me a retard and dumb. Yes, good work IBM. Now I will go and use Lotus, for sure...

Mathias Ziolo, 2008-12-14

I remember how the "community" was up in arms when a junior analyst from Radicati tried a much smaller astroturf. Looks like some people are getting nervous.

Volker Weber, 2008-12-14

I dont see the problem. This is all quite normal web marketing practice. You create material, you put it on the web, then you pump it up the search rankings, by whatever means, so that it can be found. Big deal? Not.

Andy Mell, 2008-12-14

Andy, the problem I see here: "Viral" works differently. You create content that is so good/funny that people will want to pass it on by themselves. With this little video that couldn't happen, simply because the video sucks. So it needs to be pushed by artificial fans on youtube. And shit like that doesn't fly anymore.

Joerg Michael, 2008-12-14

What makes me angrier is that IBM sent me an email asking for my help in taking this video viral. They asked that I post it on every blog and send it to every person I know to help.

If the video was good, funny, informative and interesting I would have happily done it. But the video sucked and there's no way in this world I was going to send it around.

Again, IBM has a great product (I'm a Foundations Gold partner), but can't seem to market anything to save their lives....very frustrating.

Rex Rush, 2008-12-14

Andy, it's all healthy as long as you know your imaginary girlfriend does not exist and you are only stroking yourself. It begins to be a problem as soon as you fall for your own propaganda. When you are celebrating the fake demand you were generating, and you start arguing that the quality of your "viral" does not matter as long as it is being talked about.

Volker Weber, 2008-12-15

maybe these are just all IBMers who spontaneously registered and commented after seeing a link to it on an intranet site or email. Just a random cross section of 19-23 year old IBMers who WUV!! their product. What I really don't get is the number of views, compared to the number of places they are coming from. by my maths each person arriving at that page is viewing it 100 times. Either that or 500 people from the Lotus community saw it and 47,500 people saw it just by bouncing about inside YouTube.

Alan Bell, 2008-12-15

Alan, for comments you need cheap labor. Views can be faked.

Volker Weber, 2008-12-15

In my best 'Crocodile Dundee' voice:

Call that a viral Video ?

*This* is a viral video:

Lotus. Marketing. Sucks. This we knew. And they refuse to spend money attracting new customers. This we also knew.

And their strategy is to produce Viral videos like this or get their business partners to advertise for them. (As stated to me by a very very senior IBM exec here in Europe)

Well. Their idea of viral videos suck.

And Business Partners ? The ones that havent gone the way of IT factory just dont have the money to advertise product for IBM. Are they mad ?

I sincerely wish that it would change. I'm a Lotus Business partner (and have either been one or worked for one) since 1995. And I've never seen such lack of mainstream interest in Notes before. Despite 8.5 being an amazing, technically gifted innovative product.

Here's hoping that a Sales and Marketing CEO will deliver a focused, aggressive marketing campaign focused on getting new customers onboard. I had rather hoped that heads would be knocked together, strategies would be unveiled, the sails would snap and all hands onboard the Good Ship Lotus would be back working as a team again.


In the meantime, I'm developing in Adobe Flex, for the iPhone and for the BlackBerry. Three products that you should either lust after, or have an inherent trust relationship with. Three products that you already know about or should already know about. Even if you dont know exactly what they do, you know they exist or recognize the brand (and have positive feelings for it)

Oh. Rats. I've broken another one of my own rules. I've commented on Lotus marketing. This means that I'll get an avalanche of personal attacks for criticizing 'the benefactor' and the continued cold shoulder from IBM folks. Ho hum.

----* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2008-12-15

Rats. I got the Bon Jovi remixed one instead of the original Queen one.

Its at

---* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2008-12-15

Oh boy, I never saw this thread.

To be honest, yes, it was outsourced to marketing and if you know anything about web marketing, the first 24 hours for any video uploaded to youtube are the most critical.

From production side of things, the same director was hired who had produced the Ray Ban viral video -- and yes he had more creative control with that one. However, with that being said, the video did push the limit and it did increase the awareness for a product that had "ZERO" presence prior to that.

If I went into the cost figures, trust me, this was more cost efficient than anything else we did. In retrospect, I would've asked the promotions company to be careful about who they ask to help them. IBM however, did nothing, illegal nor condoned any behavior like this. Neither did I.

But if I am promoting a video, ofcourse, I can add some comments to push to the non-ibm world. After all, web marketing is what I did.

Bilal Jaffery, 2010-11-16

Old archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


Paypal vowe