Viral marketing series – Part 2, Case study: Trollcats.com

Thu, Jun 11, 2009

Interviews, Traffic

As we mentioned in part 1 of this series, we’re going to spends some time taking a look at case studies of successful viral marketing campaigns. We’re fortunate enough here at Needmoney.com to share office space with the creators of trollcats.com, a popular humor website which launched on May 27th of this year and which has quickly “gone big” as a result of clever viral marketing. We lured their chief creative and originator of the “trollcats” concept, Richard, away from his desk for an interview.

Mogul: First of all Richard, thanks for doing this interview. We know trollcats.com and your other projects are keeping you busy around the clock and appreciate you making time for us.

Richard: My pleasure.


Mogul: I thought I’d begin by asking you how you came up with the “trollcats” idea, originally?

Richard: By talking with friends about the Internet and memes in general somehow I struck upon the combination of trolls and lolcats, and trollcats sounded amusing.  I actually thought someone must have already done it. Then we imagined what some trollcats might say, laughed, and thought other people might like them too.


Mogul: What steps did you take once you realized that you were the first to come up with the concept? That it was “up for grabs” so to speak?

Richard:  We established a presence for ourselves primarily by registering the domain trollcats.com and creating content on there. We submitted a few of our favorite trollcats to reddit and that drove a lot of traffic very quickly, and that generated some links from other popular websites. We also created a twitter account and started a facebook group.

In terms of ownership of the idea, I think on the Internet you only really “own” an idea if yours is the best site on the topic.


Mogul: Excellent. I want to refer you now to an interesting comment Elaine Garret from Practical E-marketing made on the first post in this series. To whit: “Viral marketing is what we all aspire to but how do our strategies get discovered among all the other ‘viruses’?” What do you think made trollcats a good viral marketing concept? What key features do you think it had which lead to it being able to “go viral”?

Richard:  I think the concept is easy to understand. Even if you don’t really know about Internet trolls or lolcats you can still find them amusing.  If you do know a bit more about Internet culture then I think the word itself is quite funny because it’s an obvious play on lolcats. I guess what i’m saying is the simplicity of the idea.  Also, it’s really already a tested idea, lolcats are ridiculously popular and it’s more a niche of lolcats.  There’s still a whole bunch of variables that are out of our control. I think it’s impossible to be certain that a viral idea will take off, I think the more you contrive it the less likely you’ll be successful.



Mogul: I’d like to debate that notion, about contrived “viral” ideas. While I’d agree with you that most viral Internet messages are serendipity, I think I can point to a number of contrived viral marketing campaigns that have succeeded.

For example, as I mentioned in the comments on the last article in this series, subservientchicken.com was a successful viral campaign for Burger King, and a number of viral marketing campaigns for films and television have also succeeded. Of course there are also classic examples of failed viral campaigns like the one for the “Snakes on a Plane” movie, but I don’t think that fact invalidates the general approach. What’s your response to that observation?

Richard:  Yes, you’re right contrived viral ideas can work.  I think it’s more if an idea seems forced or unnatural then that’s a barrier to success.  In the examples you give I think the ideas themselves were so good and engaging in other ways. The success of those ideas also stand out as exceptions because they worked; you don’t hear about the many contrived ideas that failed to gain traction.


Mogul: Yeah, and there have been a lot of them. I was also going to say that I noticed there’s no advertising on trollcats.com – how do you plan to monetize the site? Do you think launching the site with advertising on it would have hurt you?

Richard: Yeah, I was going to add that.  Contrived ideas almost always have a marketing angle, and it’s that angle that most people find distasteful. We don’t have advertising because of that.  I think once you’re established and people are visiting the site because they’re fans then it’s more acceptable, but we’re at the point where we need to make some fans first.


Mogul: So fair to say you’re in favor of taking a long-view when it comes to monetizing virally-marketed concepts?

Richard: Yes, I’m more into HIV style viral marketing than Ebola.


Mogul: So what’s the grand plan for trollcats.com at the moment? And do you have anything else in the pipeline that you can talk about – any other site concepts you’re hoping to “go viral” with?

Richard: The plan is to keep creating interesting content, and hopefully grow visitor loyalty. Yeah we’re always coming up with ideas, we’ve got one based on footwear coming up.


Mogul: Hah, sounds intriguing. Well, I think that’ll do for today. Thanks again for your time. Any closing thoughts or shout outs or shameless self-promotional plugs you’d like to offer our readers before we wrap this up?

Richard: No problem.  Sure. Visit trollcats.com and make your own! It’s easy, and we’ll publish the best and make you famous in the process.


Well, I hope you all got something out of that that you can take and use in your own viral marketing campaigns. Tune in next week when I’m going to interview the creator of isabigot.com, the anti-atheist-hater blog that’s taken the online atheism community by storm.

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38 Responses to “Viral marketing series – Part 2, Case study: Trollcats.com”

  1. Arlan Says:

    Been a follower of this blog and I am amazed with the sarcasms put on it. Ways to go trollcat! I am such a fan.

    Reply

  2. Dolly Says:

    I sent some pictures at that site and they published it. Coolness!

    Reply

  3. Pcdlan Says:

    I checked on the site. Great catch! I’m hooked now.

    Reply

  4. Viral Says:

    Can’t wait to have a erion of trollmouse, trolldogs, trollfishes.. When’s it gonna be? :)

    Reply

  5. David Says:

    This is a good site for cat lovers seeing their pets getting posted on the net.

    Reply

  6. Im Back Says:

    I’m now a fan of that blog. Way to go to the blog owner! Great job!

    Reply

  7. Katto Says:

    Meoowww.. This is a great blogsite for catlovers. Im one of them so I’ll check this out.

    Reply

  8. High Says:

    Interesting content. Something new.

    Reply

  9. Charles - Big Idea Blogger Says:

    LOL! I just blogged about entertainment and here is one such entertainment blog that’s so funny.
    .-= Charles – Big Idea Blogger´s last blog ..Why Entertainment Bloggers Earn More than You =-.

    Reply

  10. Con Says:

    My cat got a 15-min fame over this site. Fab site!

    Reply

  11. Great Caps Says:

    Site is great. I need to send my cat pictures too.

    Reply

  12. Catherine Says:

    Trollcats.com. I’ve been a follower of this blog since day 1. My day won’t be complete without visiting this site.

    Reply

  13. Virus Says:

    Bloggers go viral. It’s a good thing. Spread the virus.

    Reply

  14. Wow Says:

    Trollcats is oe of the coolest sites I’ve ever bumped to! Ways to go!

    Reply

  15. Peak Says:

    I stumbled upon this site. Great humour. I’m hooked.

    Reply

  16. Carla Says:

    Nice find! My friend told me about the blog and I just checked it. It’s a fab blogsite! Love it!

    Reply

  17. Vina Says:

    Site keeps creating interesting content, and I’m one of the growing visitors checking the site regularly.

    Reply

  18. Summer Says:

    Nice humour there. I’m also checking it everday.

    Reply

  19. Cook Says:

    Site is awesome! This is great site for animal lovers.

    Reply

  20. Loverly Says:

    Very entertaining website. I couldn’t stop looking at the pictures. Soooo cuteee..

    Reply

  21. Fly Says:

    I always drop by the site. I’m addicted too!

    Reply

  22. Quck Fire Says:

    Wow.. It’s always updated. Keep it up!

    Reply

  23. Remac Says:

    Trollcats.com is a great site! Updated, something new and entertaining!

    Reply

  24. Evert Says:

    I’m checking the site everyday and I’m always in awe. Cool site ever!

    Reply

  25. Saab Says:

    Trollcats are the coolest! I love them.

    Reply

  26. Olah Says:

    I’ve been stalking the blogsite for some time, and it never stops me from doing so! Nice site! Highly recommended.

    Reply

  27. Star Says:

    I’ve visited the site and I must commend the site owner for putting up site like that. Great job!

    Reply

  28. Tuner Says:

    Just visited the site. I see scary cats there! Entertaining though.

    Reply

  29. MJ Says:

    Haha! I visited the site and I loved it! More cats power ahead!

    Reply

  30. Seet Says:

    This is a great place for cat lovers. I’ve been infected in fairness!

    Reply

  31. John Says:

    Check the latest post there. I pissed myself.

    Reply

  32. Giva Says:

    OMG LOVE TROLLCATS

    Reply

  33. Money-Era.com Says:

    The story and the blog profile itself reminds me a lot of the famous icanhascheezburger.com. I wonder if it was an inspiration for trollcats.com?
    .-= Money-Era.com´s last blog ..You are on the run & everything works =-.

    Reply

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