Bill Slawski did one of my favorite blog posts this week. He pointed to a Rolling Stone article that discusses how Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame is leading several people on a merry web chase to uncover websites from a bleak, dystopian future.
Starting from bolded letters in concert T-shirts, searchers quickly find sites that discuss parepin, a fictional additive (with some mysterious side-effects) that is added to the water supply in the future. Other sites look optimistic, but reveal a darker sentiment when you scrub through them in different ways.
Let’s take a quick look at the campaign from an SEO perspective. What was good? I noticed a few things:
– Check out the text from http://iamtryingtobelieve.com/purpose.htm. It’s so jittery that it’s hard to read, but if you view the source, you’ll notice that it’s mostly text content, which lets search engines index it.
– The buzz built pretty organically. USB drives were left in bathrooms at conferences and messages were hidden in conference T-shirts. It’s much better to let people find you than to push too hard to get noticed. The links from the “people-find-you” approach are more organic than if someone spammed to get links to viral sites.
– I appreciate that the campaign picked a lot of terms (e.g. “parepin”) that were unique nonsense words. That keeps the marketing campaign from crufting up search results for actual topics or real peoples’ names, which is a pretty rude thing to do.
– Good use of email, Flash, and phones. If you email some of the sites belonging to the “resistance,” you’ll get back contrite messages which make it look as if the creator of the site has been “re-educated.” Likewise, some phone numbers are hidden in various places, and calling them gives you sound clips. Flash is used to create a fake IRC chat where you can watch as the participants are found by the authorities.
So what wasn’t as good?
– Several of the sites (churchofplano.com, 105thairbornecrusaders.com, consolidatedmailsystems.com, etc.) are all on the same class C subnet. If you wanted to avoid legions of NIN fans finding new sites, you would want to avoid that.
– No paid-search campaign seems to be leveraging people searching for related stuff. That’s missing a chance to throw more mind-bending stuff at obsessive fans.
Conclusion: I thought the viral campaign was well-done. I’ll probably pick up a copy of the new CD, just because I appreciate the attention to detail that was put into the campaign.