Joel Smernoff, President and COO of Paltalk

PromotionWorld: Tell us a little about yourself and Paltalk for PromotionWorld’s audience.

Joel Smernoff: My name is Joel Smernoff, and I am President and COO of Paltalk.

Paltalk is the premier real-time, video-based community bringing together traditional broadcasting media, social networking, user-generated content and video chat. With more than 4 million active users, Paltalk hosts the world's largest interactive video community, PaltalkScene, offering thousands of users the ability to watch and interact with online video programming, including serialized shows, live events, and user-generated content, as well as interact with each other through real-time voice, text and video chat.

PromotionWorld: Why did you choose viral marketing for promoting your latest initiative, that is, the launch of entertainment shows that allow your members from all over the world to interact live with and ask questions to their favorite celebrities, athletes, politicians, etc..?

Joel Smernoff: We initially discovered an interesting piece of technology that allows for real-time text overlays on top of video. After noticing a lot of political discourse in Paltalk chat rooms, we decided to leverage this technology with the Presidential campaign, along with the political discussions taking place on Paltalk. The video was a natural choice to integrate these three things together in a fun and interactive way.

PromotionWorld: How did you come up with the idea to associate your amusing online video campaign with the 2008 presidential campaign?

Joel Smernoff: We had been brainstorming on potential video topics, and after a while saw this as the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the trends we were seeing in the Paltalk community.

PromotionWorld: How would you assess the success of the campaign from a brand recognition perspective?

Joel Smernoff: The video has been wildly successful- we’ve exposed the Paltalk name to over 4 million people who may not have been familiar with the service before. To get that kind of exposure generally involves high advertising investments, but we were able to spread the word based purely on people’s enjoyment of video.

PromotionWorld: How much traffic was generated during the campaign?

Joel Smernoff: The video just passed the four million viewers mark in only six weeks, and is rapidly accelerating.

PromotionWorld: Why do you think this campaign has had such great success?

Joel Smernoff: The video has been so successful due to the fact that it’s fun, it’s interactive, and it directly appeals to the viewer. Those that see the video enjoy it so much that they actually want to pass it along to their friends to share.

PromotionWorld: Based on your personal experience, what do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of viral video marketing?

Joel Smernoff: The advantages of choosing viral video marketing are that it’s a fun and creative way to express your vision and it’s an entertaining, clever way to get message out.

The disadvantage to this strategy is that the medium is not a direct marketing channel, and in terms of metrics it can be tough to understand how many new signups to the service actually come as a result of the video. One must also be very aware and careful not to make it seem too commercial, since that will kill the buzz effect.

PromotionWorld: Are you planning another innovative marketing campaign in the near future? What other channels would you consider using to reach your end-users?

Joel Smernoff: We’re open to anything fun, cool, and innovative that can help us promote Paltalk.

PromotionWorld: What would you recommend for PromotionWorld’s readers to consider when planning an online marketing campaign?

Joel Smernoff: The key thing to remember when designing any online marketing campaign is that it has to be fun. For viral video in particular, the campaign has to get people talking in order to inspire word of mouth marketing, and most importantly, the video has to be unique. It can’t be over-promotional, or else the value is lost on the viewer and they feel as if they are being blatantly advertised at.