Tuesday, 8 September 2009

How much effort will you put into on-line promoting? This week Anna, the person behind Widget the Sock Bunny, shares some of her tips for successful viral marketing. It's well worth the read!

"Viruses are big in the news at the moment and spreading his own online version is Widget Sockbunny – a fuzzy bunny-shaped infection travelling with growing speed around the world.

"You will have heard the term ‘Viral Marketing’, it sounds technical but really the concept is a simple one. Viruses spread rapidly from one person to the next, the more people who ‘catch it’, the more people it will spread to. To sell online you need to put out little feelers wherever you can, forever spreading, trying to ‘infect’ as many people as possible, trying to be remembered and talked about, or, if you prefer, catching a vibe of something being passed around.The easiest way to illustrate it is to tell you how I sell my sock bunnies online – using a bunny named Widget.
"Widget did not exist until I discovered a 365 project on Flickr.com. One object, one picture a day for one whole year. I was already selling the sock bunnies online and building up recognition in the craft forums such as Folksy, so I grabbed this marketing opportunity and chose a bunny. I named him Widget and began to take pictures. When I post the days’ images in the photo pool people see them. If they like what they see they can see all my other pictures too. In my profile are links to everything I do including diary blog for these Widget photos – Widget’s Year - and another blog for the other bunnies living at The Warren. I created an environmental concept for them, a warren, nestling in a sunny corner of my original company Half an Acre. Luckily it all seemed to fit! People liked reading about this little world and kept coming back to ‘check in’ on what was going on. Global Bunny travels around the world with her little suitcase sending back news and images, Geocache Bunny comes out on walks with me and my family (geocaching.com). All these pictures are posted into the appropriate Flickr group pools for more and more people to see. Widget even collects ‘sea glass’ so I can add pictures of him with his collection to the Sea glass Lovers group pool! All this is blogged about too. When blogging it is vital to post as often as you can, at least 3 times a week, to generate a ‘happening’ feel.

"When anyone buys a bunny they receive a printed card inviting them to send in stories and pictures to this blog. This makes the blog interesting and tempts the readers to want have their own bunny. Flickr is vital. I get on average around 120 views of my photostream each day. Being ‘seen’ is essential too. I looked for all the groups dealing with socks, bunnies, sewing, rainbows (for Rainbow Bun!), anything vaguely applicable, and joined them. Spreading pictures of Widget and his friends anywhere and everywhere. It is important not to spam. It has to be relevant or you will annoy the very people you want to draw to your shop.
"I gave Widget his own Facebook profile and, ignoring the fact that you need to be a ‘real’ person to register, I then set about ‘friending’ people! I already knew a load from promoting Half an Acre and I sent friend invitations to ‘friends of friends’. I found out that people give pets their own pages and that meant bunnies! I also sent requests to any other ‘sock toys’ out there. To date Widget has just over 300 friends – generated in around 5 months. Every time I post it shows up in the news feeds of all those 300. I made a ‘Send-a-Bunny’ application using pictures of Widget and his pals and send them out to all my new ‘friends’. The whole of Facebook can use that application and therefore see from where it originates. Widget has joined Postcrossing.com. He has his own postcards, with a cute picture on the front and subtle blog link on the back. Next on the list is The Toy Society where I’ll be leaving bunnies in bags around the place with a big label saying ‘Take me home’. Reaching more people and drawing them in to the whole concept. Everything leads back to one central point - my shop on Folksy.

"Give people inspiration, a new idea, something to talk about, smile about and eventually news will spread, the virus feeding itself as it travels. It takes lots of time and dedication but it does work. The bunnies are spreading like ….. bunnies!"


  1. I've met Widget through Anna's postcrossing initiative, and I have to say, I was enchanted by it at the same moment. I have been following widget's adventures since then, and even got my own bunny last week(it's still traveling here).

    But the most important thing, to me at least, was that Anna's initiative made me start thinking about new ways to market the company I work for. I am a student-worker at the e-marketing department of Westminster College in Salt Lake City, and when I received Widget's postcard, I went straight to my boss to talk about it. We both thought it was an amazing way to market Anna's business, and could we do it too? We decided that postcrossing wouldn't work for us, but what about social media? On the following months we started to look into different platforms, and now we are on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and LinkedIn.

    And also, since I received Widget's postcard, I've been constantly annoying my mom to start selling her handmade stuff online, and that I would help with all the site's looks and marketing. She does a lot of beautiful things to help out a hospital back home, but so far her audience is mostly friends and people living in the area. If she goes online, she can reach a lot more people.

    And Widget kind of inspired all that to me.

  2. Fascinating! We are going to use viral marketing for our Sheep Project

  3. Brilliant, and very well written. Thanks Widget!