Old Spice is still the king of viral marketing with its humorous and out-of-the-box ad campaigns. It came out with its brand character, the Old Spice man who appeared in “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign in 2010. The Old Spice man Isaiah Mustafa created a stir with his ad, which was created to appeal to the female audience and give a subtle message to men to buy Old Spice. The ad video got amazing positive reviews and YouTube views, garnering more than 54 million views to date on YouTube.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Selena Maranjian owns shares of Amazon, Costco Wholesale, National Grid, Realty Income, and Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, eBay, National Grid, and Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool recommends Costco Wholesale, Lowe's, The TJX Companies, and Welltower. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


In 2005, I invested in a company called Tabblo (acquired by HP in 2007), and had the good fortune to work with an outstanding entrepreneur, Antonio Rodriguez. Tabblo did manage to achieve good viral growth, but around the same time YouTube was launched and managed to achieve explosive viral growth. In the process of looking at these two companies, we learnt several important things about virality. This post digs deeper into what it takes to achieve viral growth, and examines the key variables that drive viral growth.


When imparting your brand message, addressing your audience directly by using the second-person term “you” ensures a personal touch. By saying “You are more beautiful than you think,” Dove could connect to the audience and show that it cares for each of them. The impact of the campaign was that while buying Dove’s products, people thought they are supporting a social cause.


Many marketers hope for a campaign to go viral — meaning it's recognized, widely-accepted, and influential. But there's no guaranteed formula. However, if you think about some of your favorite viral marketing campaigns, you'll notice some common features. Marketers wanting to reach a bigger audience should keep these attributes in mind when creating their next campaign:

There are many ways to “go viral” from a marketing perspective. There are no viral marketing techniques which work for all industries so a tailored approach which includes one or more viral marketing channels is important. Videos are the most popular way, but social media posts, search engine result pages (SERPs), email marketing campaigns and even TV advertisements have created viral, trending content for company, either on purpose or accidently. There are many different types of viral marketing, but they can be lumped into three categories – content created by a business about their products, content created by others about a business’s products, and content that businesses pay influencers to create about their products through advertising and sponsorship. Below we talk about these types of viral marketing to highlight the variety of strategies you could have.
What I’m doing: My realistic goal is to have a blended annual return of 2x the risk free rate. With a current 5% hurdle, I am not paying down mortgages that cost less than 4%. Debt at 5% is a wash. My realistic blue sky scenario is a 3-4X rate of return over the risk free rate which can be achieved with property, stocks so far for the past five years, and certain private equity investments. Where I am dragging is my blended average CD interest rate of roughly 3% from an old CD coming due. I’ve rolled some money into a 12-month CD with CIT Bank at 2.5%. It’s the best rate I can find. 

What’s also really important to realize here is that when I took the exam I was teaching people to study for, I didn’t get a perfect score. In fact, I didn’t even get close to a perfect score. I passed. But I also knew a lot about this exam—way more than somebody who was just getting started diving into studying for it. And it was because of that, because I was just a few steps ahead of them, that they trusted me to help them with that information. To support this, I provided a lot of great free value to help them along the way. I engaged in conversations and interacted in comments sections and on forums. Most of all, I just really cared about those people, because I struggled big-time with that exam myself.
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Now that we have the model built, we can play with the variables to see what effect they have. In the spreadsheet above, go to cell B11, and change the Conversion rate for invites (conv%) to 5%. This will make the Viral Coefficient less than 1. Now look at what that did to your population growth. Instead of continuing to grow, it grows to 20 people, and then stops.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started in 2014, which was an online effort to raise awareness for people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease and to raise funds. The campaign was able to raise $115 million in a span of just eight weeks! The challenge for people was to pour a bucket of ice-cold water over their head and challenge minimum three people to do the same and make a donation to The ALS Association.
Since publishing this post, I created a SlideShare presentation that has a several additional ideas on viral marketing: The Science behind Viral Marketing. Also check out Andrew Chen’s blog, as he has written extensively on the subject of Viral Growth. For example, here is one great example: What’s your viral loop? Understanding the engine of adoption.
I want to develop a passive income stream in the next 4 years, nothing grand, maybe an extra 500-1000 dollars a month, but I’m not sure how to go about it so I was wondering if you had any tips. I’m so-so as a writer, and am currently finishing up my second book (just write as a hobby), and in the past made about 30-50 dollars an hour as a free lance writer but that was a couple of years back, it was only for about 10-20 hours a month, and the gig just dried up. I just got particularly lucky with that. I’ve tried online poker as a means in the past, and which I learned A) was not passive income but hard work and B) I have an addictive personality which resulted in me losing the 4g I earned in 6 weeks over the span of 72 hours so that’s out of the picture. I also partook in some illegal selling of things when I was younger, but being a little older and wiser the risk-reward ratio for possibly ending up in Jail just doesn’t match up. I tried making three businesses (dog walking, house cleaning, and personal assistant) and while those all were succesful to varying degrees and earned me about 15-25 dollars an hour, they weren’t mobile and quiet honestly I don’t have the time to be a full time dog walker or run a house cleaning operation seeing as I’ll be in school, work, and athletics.
If you were Prismacolor, you would promote this GIF because the more viral it becomes, the more chances it has of reaching an artist who may be interested in buying colored pencils for themselves or as a gift. And the more likely that artist is to choose Prismacolor if the viral image of their pencils inspired them to make the purchase. As the vendor, Prismacolor wants to increase sales of their products from all vendors.
Since publishing this post, I created a SlideShare presentation that has a several additional ideas on viral marketing: The Science behind Viral Marketing. Also check out Andrew Chen’s blog, as he has written extensively on the subject of Viral Growth. For example, here is one great example: What’s your viral loop? Understanding the engine of adoption.
In 1999, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez began drumming up buzz for their now-legendary movie, The Blair Witch Project, using innovative techniques made possible by the relatively new culture of the Internet. The film is an early example of the “found footage” style that is made to look like amateur video shot by real people. Myrick and Sanchez, along with Artisan Entertainment, capitalized on the realistic look of Blair Witch to build a campaign around it that suggested the footage actually was real.
Income-generating assets are another of many passive-income opportunities. A classic example is making money in real estate via owning rental properties. It can seem perfect: You buy an apartment building or house, rent it out, and then sit back and collect checks every month from your tenants. The reality isn't always so rosy, though. For one thing, you'll need to maintain and repair the property, as well as paying taxes on it and insuring it. It may not always be occupied, either. You may have trouble finding tenants, or finding tenants who pay their rent reliably. Some tenants may damage the property, and others may be hard to get rid of. You'll be the one they call in the middle of the night if the roof is leaking, and you'll have to clean and perhaps freshen up the property between tenants. You can outsource much of this to a property management company, but it will take a cut of your income, often about 10%.

Making legitimate passive income isn’t as difficult as you might think. Some of the best passive income ideas might take a little time to set up but can start cash flowing within a couple of months and will provide a consistent monthly income for years or more. The most important point is just to get started. You make exactly $0 on the passive income sources you never start.


Love your articles. I think everyone is very different as far as how much passive income they need to meet their goals. I’ve read a lot of your articles and really enjoy your thoughts. I have a masters in finance and understand the math of keeping the debt but my emotions are such that I need to try to finish off paying off my last debt (mortgage) in the next two years. At 34 and only worth 525k I’m doing better than a lot of folks my age but it will be difficult for me to catch up in the passive income game without leverage. That is the main reason I recently created a website to try to bring passive income opportunities in my area to me.
Decision-making process seems to be hard for customers these days. Millers (1956) argued that people suffered from short-term memory.[57] This links to difficulties in customers' decision-making process and Paradox of Choice,[58] as they face various adverts and newspapers daily.[59] Influencers serve as a credible source for customers' decision-making process.[49][41] Neilsen reported that 80% of consumers appreciated a recommendation of their acquaintances,[60] as they have reasons to trust in their friends delivering the messages without benefits[60] and helping them reduce perceived risks behind choices.[61][62]
This is mostly passive once you have it all set up, but it does take a lot of work at the beginning. Real estate investing also requires occasional maintenance. Currently, we invest in a couple of rental properties and earn about $500 profit from each per month. You can read more about my rental properties at MoneySmartLife.com: How and Why I Became a Landlord.
Book sales ($36,000 a year): Sales of How to Engineer Your Layoff" continue to be steady. I expect book sales to rise once the economy starts to soften and people get more nervous about their jobs. It's always best to be ahead of the curve when it comes to a layoff by negotiating first. Further, if you are planning to quit your job, then there is no downside in trying to engineer your layoff so you can get WARN Act pay for several months, a severance check, deferred compensation, and healthcare.
Renting out a space room on AirBNB is really easy and their site handles the advertising, payment and feedback system. The process of having your site advertised is quite passive, but having someone in your house has similar risks to real estate investing, that makes it quite hands on. It is worth considering if you are rattling around in a large house, or have a granny-flat that is vacant.
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To model Viral Cycle Time’s effect on growth, I searched the web, high and low, looking for a pre-defined formula. To my great surprise, there was no formula that I could find that correctly calculated customer growth, and showed the impact of Viral Cycle Time. What was also surprising, was that I did find several blogs showing formulae for viral growth, but in every case, they appeared to make the same mistake, which was assuming that the entire customer base would continue sending out invitations for every cycle. So I collaborated with my partner, Stan Reiss, who turns out to be a whole lot smarter than I am, and he helped me develop the fomulae that are used in the more sophisticated model for viral growth below:
Please remember that your passive income may not be higher than your active income. Your goal should be to achieve a combination where both incomes are greater than your current active income.  Don’t expect too much, but always remain optimistic. You and I may not be as lucky as J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown, but we both certainly deserve a good vacation.
Old Spice is still the king of viral marketing with its humorous and out-of-the-box ad campaigns. It came out with its brand character, the Old Spice man who appeared in “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign in 2010. The Old Spice man Isaiah Mustafa created a stir with his ad, which was created to appeal to the female audience and give a subtle message to men to buy Old Spice. The ad video got amazing positive reviews and YouTube views, garnering more than 54 million views to date on YouTube.

You brought some awesome examples. One of the best ways to get your campaign off the ground is by starting with the ideal audience. I find that I can use data to find my top customers and then make those into ambassadors, nurture those relationships, to create an epic viral campaign. Gilles de Clerck, founder of the Growth Revolution, talks about it here - https://sharesomefriends.com/blog/referral-marketing/


Book sales ($36,000 a year): Sales of How to Engineer Your Layoff" continue to be steady. I expect book sales to rise once the economy starts to soften and people get more nervous about their jobs. It's always best to be ahead of the curve when it comes to a layoff by negotiating first. Further, if you are planning to quit your job, then there is no downside in trying to engineer your layoff so you can get WARN Act pay for several months, a severance check, deferred compensation, and healthcare.

Word-of-mouth marketing is a key component to the growth of a small business. It's often word-of-mouth marketing that keeps small businesses running in the early days of operation when there is little to no marketing budget. The consumer shares their experience with your products or services, and they share it with their family and friends. It increases your consumer base and increases your sales.
Can you expound on the use of publicly-traded REITs as a passive income source? I’m 31 years old. No children. No wife. No dependents. (I am the closest thing to Ebenezer Scrooge you’ll ever see). My monthly expenses amount to less than $2,000 per month (most of which go to pay student loans) . I have a decent job making over $55K per year. I also have a $60K inheritance coming my way in a few weeks. I am absolutely crazy about achieving absolute financial independence, which for me would require a passive income of over $2000/month to cover my living expenses. I could achieve that in a mere couple of years if I were to save excessively and dump my savings (and inheritance) into a Mortgage REIT via the stock market, most of which are shelling out above 10% returns in dividend payments. Is this a good strategy for me? Or am I being too hasty and assuming too much risk?
This campaign is a great viral marketing example of where the benefits must outweigh the cost as those against Nike’s messaging started to post videos of them destroying their branded apparel and refusing to support the company again. If you are planning on taking a side within your viral marketing campaign make sure you measure the benefits and costs as it could involve you losing customers and ultimate money in the long run.
Real(ly) beautiful: A 2013 campaign by Dove featured a police sketch artist listening to how women portray themselves and how another person describes them. The two images are then compared side-by-side, with the women’s “self-portraits” being far more critical and negative than the others. The ad has attracted more than 64 million views on YouTube. (1)
If you’re a YouTube personality, this is how you generate your income. An amazing example of this how Antonio Centeno got 1 million YouTube subscribers. If you’re a blogger who gets a lot of traffic to your site and uses advertising or sponsorships, then you’re also following the AA Model. Got a podcast with sponsorships? Same deal. I talk about successful podcast sponsorships and other ways to make money podcasting here:
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If you’d prefer to skip the startup phase, you might want to buy a blog that’s already built and earning revenue. This is actually pretty easy to do as a lot of people start blogs, and then get bored with them. Getting a blog going is a labor-intensive process, and it’s not uncommon for people to give up before they’ve reached their full potential.
The participants were asked to challenge minimum three persons to take the Ice Bucket Challenge. This was one of the reasons why campaign became viral. If one person tells three other people about the challenge, and those three tell the other three, a viral loop is created. By setting a call to action, and asking your audience to share about your campaign with others, you too can keep your campaign alive.
Your articles are so in-depth and helpful, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I am a 22-yr old finishing my last semester of college, studying Computer Science and Psychology. I’m in a really good place with my finances (2k savings, no student debt, only expenses essentially rent, groceries, and utilities) and I want to get ahead financially so I can pay my parents back and save up a lot.
Exploits common motivations and behaviors. Clever viral marketing plans take advantage of common human motivations. What proliferated “Netscape Now” buttons in the early days of the web? The desire to be cool. Greed drives people. So does the hunger to be popular, loved, and understood. The resulting urge to communicate produces millions of websites and billions of email messages. Design a marketing strategy that builds on common motivations and behaviors for its transmission, and you have a winner.

As mentioned earlier, most platforms have an algorithm in place to determine the type of content that gets marked as viral, trending, popular, or hot content. In most cases, these algorithms look for engagement a piece of content receives in relation to the time that piece of content was published or in a specific timeframe. Let’s say that your viral marketing goal was to create a video that made the Trending charts on YouTube. Your video would have a shot if:
Though it can take a while to build up enough cash to put a 20% down payment on an investment property (the typical lender minimum), they can snowball fairly quickly. The key here is to correctly project income and expenses in order to calculate cash flow (the free cash you can put in your pocket after all associated property expenses have been paid). However you have to be sure to include the cost of a property manager in your calculations unless you want to manage the property yourself. Even with a property manager, you may be required to make large repair decisions every now and then – so while this is not a 100% passive activity, you are not directly trading your time for money like traditional employment.
One of the easiest ways to increase your passive income is to shift your savings to a bank that pays a higher yield on your savings — for example, Discover Bank and EverBank pay almost 1% for your money. Although it doesn’t sound like much (especially in this low interest environment), little things do add up and eventually interest rates will rise.
The vast majority of my investing is in retirement accounts and won't be tapped for income until I reach at least 59.5 years old. However, I have a very small taxable investing portfolio (less than $5k) with Ally Invest where I invest in a handful of stocks that I value. I do not use the earnings as income – I simply hold these stocks. But I have an unrealized gain of $340 from this year so far.
2. This article isn’t intended to be about making $50k per year from $0 to start with. This is intended to show different ways that it’s possible to generate $50k in passive income. As for your rental property comment, check out RealtyShares or other similar companies. You can be a rental property owner without having to run the business. You can be a limited partner and just invest in real estate, and leave the actual work to the general partner. Basically, there are options to make $50k without working, but like the first paragraph says – front load your life!

It’s not just the little guys like me who are being squeezed by the constant updates. Even YouTube’s top creators have expressed frustration with changes to the YouTube monetization platform. It’s constantly changing and evolving, so you must be willing to adapt. Plus, it helps having a blog so you’re not relying on a single platform or your income.


The sheer traffic that the android and iOS appstores host every day means that if you are able to make an app that is useful, there is probably a market out there for it. If you are able to make a hit, then the sky is the limit. Flappy bird is a great example of the success that one person can have in their spare time. The creator is generating $50,000 per day from ad revenue on his free game. 
Active income, on the other hand, involves earning money in exchange for a service. It could be a salary, an hourly wage, commissions, or tips. It’s essentially a trade of your time for a fixed dollar amount. Most people choose to live this way, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as you understand that there will be a limit to how much money you can realistically earn.
In mid 2016, an Indian tea company (TE-A-ME) has delivered 6,000 tea bags[79] to Donald Trump and launched a video on YouTube.[80] and Facebook[81] The video campaign received various awards including most creative PR stunt[82] in Southeast Asia after receiving 52000+ video shares, 3.1M video view in first 72-hour and hundreds of publication mentions (including Mashable, Quartz,[83] Indian Express,[84] Buzzfeed[85]) across 80+ countries.
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