I am a frequent follower of Mike Fruchter’s Shares on Google Reader via his FriendFeed stream. I am inaudated hourly with Mike’s recent blog favorites. He shared a blog post today called: There is a Down Side To Viral Marketing from the people at the Social Marketing Journal. The central concept of the post: you can’t control viral marketing. If you try to control it you fail. If you ignore it, you fail.

The Three Down Sides of Viral Marketing according to the Social Marketing Journal:

1. Viral Marketing is Hit and Miss

2. Viral Marketing Has No Control Measure

3. Viral Marketing Can Go Negative

After reading the post, I found myself thinking about the concept of viral marketing and conversations on FriendFeed. Usually the conversation wildfire is centered around politics (most recently a convo started by Alex Scoble around 9/11.. I think we are approaching 60 some comments?). There is a massive viral opportunity on FriendFeed for the Tech community to embrace. The best example I have of a viral campaign in the works is my post recently on FriendFeed regarding the new social media site, Yokway.

I had received an email from Stephan Osmont at Yokway inviting me to try out the service. I had no idea who he was or how he had my email. I decided to post to FriendFeed to ask if anyone had heard of Yokway. Here is what happened.

Louis Gray picked up the conversation (after making fun of me, mind you) and eventually Stephan from Yokway had joined the conversation. A simple question had turned into a firestorm of debate over social media services. With Stephan defending the Yokway…. way.

What would have happened if Stephan had not joined the conversation? I probably would have still checked out the site (thanks to Louis) but the rest of the group involved in the conversation would have been left with questions.

Whether we are talking about FriendFeed, Twitter, Rejaw, Strands, Plaxo, LinkedIn, or Facebook, (not to mention the 30000 other networks in existance) it is important to remember to be IN the conversation. If your demographic frequents any social network GET INVOLVED. This might mean hiring a part time employee or spending some extra time yourself. SUCK IT UP. This is not something to be ignored and as we approach the next couple of years, it will become an even stronger force.

Honestly, you don’t have to suck it up. Maybe I was a little harsh? You could keep on ignoring the conversations and drive your brand into the ground. Your choice.

I’ll buy you a shovel but don’t expect me to help you dig.