Viral Marketting — Get a free iPod

Click here to sign up for a free iPod and help me get mine.

I’ve gone ahead and signed up. I put some research into this before I decided to do it. I am convinced that they are on the up and up, most importantly because the company now has the Wired Seal of Not Being A Scam. I thought the first time that I heard of it that it was a Ponzi Scheme, where the people underneath are required to support the ones above. The danger with this is that eventually a Ponzi scheme collapses when you run out of suckers new members because everyone is already in it. There have been entire economies wrecked by Ponzi schemes. (BTW, Social Security is also a Ponzi scheme, and that is the primary reason that it will eventually collapse. The only thing it has going for it is that the people at the top die before they have siphoned too much off. As medicine gets better and people live longer, that Ponzi scheme will collapse.)

This isn’t a Ponzi scheme because the money comes from outside companies rather than being siphoned off new members. The money is generated from outside, and that is what separates it from a Ponzi scheme. It does resemble Multi-level Marketing. I think there is something to keep in mind, though — if you join in, and it turns out there aren’t any more people underneath you to join (which would kill a MLM scheme) you aren’t out anything. At most, you have joined a service (part of the method I’ll discuss below) that is at least offering a legitimate service.

This is viral marketing. This is how it works:

  1. You get referred to the service by someone else. (This helps them complete their offer through step 3.)
  2. You participate in one of the marketing offers in the program. These include things like joining the new Blockbuster version of Netflix, or Ancestry.com, or an AOL trial membership. Most of these are “free offers” that don’t cost you anything if you cancel them during the trial period.
  3. You get five more people to take you up on your referral, the same as the person that referred you. When you hit five referrals (or at least the ones that have taken it to step 2) then they ship you your free iPod.

So how can this not be a scam? Because the dot.com bubble isn’t quite dead. The freeipods.com people have gotten a return from the advertising links (since they all conclude in some amount of participation with the advertiser) that allows them to be able to buy an iPod, ship it to you, and still make a profit. Because you have to advertise for the freeipod.com people (see Step 3) they don’t have to take on those costs, and you are doing the work of getting the traffic to the links they have with advertisers.

Is it free? Not in the purest sense. You are working for it. You are taking them up on one of the offers. I took Ancestry.com. They have always intrigued me, and it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve paid for database access (I was a member of publicdata.com for a long time) and if I don’t like it, I can cancel it and not be out anything. Ancestry.com was one of the better offers, because the credit under step 2 was instant and wasn’t contingent on me actually spending any money. I get the impression that ancestry.com has a good enough product that they are confident that a lot of people are going to stay longer than 2 weeks and start paying money.

The other thing that you have to do it some marketing. If you are like me and have a blog that gets a moderate amount of traffic, you might be able to do it that way. (I’ll let you know when I get my five referrals.) I’ll even sweeten the pot a bit — whoever takes me up on my referral will get a free link from me on their referral. That means that if you help me get my iPod, I’ll help you get yours. You’ll have your blog traffic and mine. Also, I’ll sweeten the deal even more — you can let the peoeople taking you up on your referrals that I’ll post thier link too.

There has to be a taker out there somewhere. Help me get my iPod and I’ll help you get yours.

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