Interview with Lee Washington (Viral Seeding)
Viral Seeding is a viral marketing and PR agency.
I interviewed Lee Washington, Viral Seeding founder to find out more. This is the two hundredth in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Lee!
How would you describe Viral Seeding in under 100 words?
Viral Seeding is a viral marketing agency that specialises in seeding and online PR. With over six years experience, we’ve seeded over one hundred viral campaigns. We combine editorial outreach with paid for placement to ensure that the campaigns we seed not only receive views but also buzz, comments, interaction and ultimately sharing through social media.
Why did you decide to launch Viral Seeding in 2009?
I was working freelance within a digital agency, things were getting rocky with the financial crisis and the amount of work I was getting was becoming less reliable. I began working with a number of agencies and from there it evolved into the business.
How have you funded Viral Seeding?
The business was self funded, as a service business there was little requirement for large investment, just a laptop and an internet connection. The business grew from there with profits being reinvested in advertising to raise its profile.
You’ve worked on campaigns for Jaguar, Chrysler, figleaves, Samsung, Mazda and the list goes on for quite a while. Who was your first client and how did you get them on board?
The range of brands that we have worked with is a result of working with agencies rather than the brands directly. The first clients were the agencies that I was working with when employed and freelance. From there it grew with people I had previously worked with moving on to other companies or starting their own.
How are new clients finding out about you?
I was very fortunate to secure the viralseeding.com domain name which means that we rank well for search terms. Further to that, new business comes through word of mouth and recommendations alongside the keyword advertising.
We also create and seed our own campaigns, last year we created the Gangnam Countdown to countdown to Gangnam Style passing one billion views. It received a great deal of coverage on popular blogs with Viral Seeding mentioned alongside.
Where do you see the future of social networking?
Smartphones have obviously revolutionised the way that people access social networks on the go and will continue to do so with Facebook Home being an example of this – the social network becomes the hub of the smartphone experience. In the future, google glasses will take this to another level although I doubt the mass appeal right now.
You currently employ four people. How did you find the right people for the job?
I find the right people through recommendations from previous colleagues and those who take the initiative to get in touch and sell their skills and what they can offer to me.
How do you differentiate from your competitors?
We’re about securing editorial coverage for a campaign. It’s genuine endorsement from the blogger that is them saying ‘this cool, check it out’. Many of our competitors have moved to more of an advertising model with bloggers being paid for view to embed a video, often in a sidebar. We think that having the blog post talk about and share the campaign has a far greater impact on the amount of social sharing and comments content receives.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
I think that growing the business further is always a challenge, we have reached a size that I am happy with with consistent campaigns each month but it would be good to continue to work with new agencies.
Have you had any failures and what did you learn from them?
We once made an error on a campaign outreaching to bloggers with incorrect information. We quickly rectified this by recontacting those that we had been in touch with to ensure that no blog posts were made that the public would see.
We worked with the client and the outcome was that they were pleased with our handling of the campaign and we continue to work with them. I learned that mistakes do sometimes happen, it’s how you deal with them that’s important. A cliche but very true.
What advice would you offer to someone starting up a marketing agency?
Ensure that there’s a couple of clients that you can start to work with so you can hit the ground running. Be creative – the internet is an amazing thing that’s constantly hungry for new and interesting entertainment. Those that create it quickly see their content go viral.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
I think the idea that brands are finally understanding the need to create content is very exciting. It’s no longer enough to have a social media profile, it needs to be propagated with content that’s rich and interesting to an audience.
Finished reading? Check out Viral Seeding!