Oct 2012

I woke up this morning and as usual, the first thing I did was to check my Facebook notifications. Delighted to see 8 notifications from overnight, I clicked on the notifications icon and guess what?! They were not notifications from a stalker who likes all your photos at once, but 8 genuine ones from 8 different people. But what was more surprising was that all of them talked about one thing: “Dropbox”. Super amazed to see so many people talk about the same thing, I went to one of the posts and found out that Dropbox has started a new campaign called the “The Dropbox Great Space Race”. This campaign is targeted towards educational institutions across the globe and takes the “competition” approach. Inviting school students to invite their fellow classmates to register with Dropbox using their school email, this campaign has gone viral in no time!


So, this is how the campaign works:

The campaign brands itself like an inter-school competition where the school with the maximum number of school emails registered with Dropbox wins the race and the student accounts can gain upto 25GB of storage space for 2 years.

Every student is allowed to register for Dropbox using their school email. By doing this they add 1 point to their School/University. Students can also earn points by referring their classmates, friends, and professors to Dropbox.

So, what makes this so viral that I stopped looking at my newsfeed because all I could see was posts about Dropbox? (and also made me write about it!)

Here are a few reasons that I can think of: The campaign is viral because it

#1: Targets a growing audience

There are millions of users of Dropbox and based on some old stats, there are about 1 million files stored every minute on it. Out of all these users, we can be sure that a number of them are students. Students are swarmed with projects, especially group projects these days as the teaching methods are changing rapidly to make education more practical and collaborative. Given this need to store and share files among students, not just for school work but also a lot of personal files, students are definitely a growing target audience for Dropbox.

#2: Gives them what they want

Students love free stuff! In the context of Dropbox, students will not want to let go of an easy chance to get free space. By offering a mouth-watering 25GB to the winning school or 15GB just to support your school, Dropbox has already gained every student’s attention.

#3: Is branded very well

The campaign has a “Space” theme to it and it is branded like a real life completion/race. The space theme works in their favour now, partly because the world is still excited about Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking space dive. On the other hand, the competition feel, is something every student can relate to. It brings in a feeling of pride and belonging in them. Be it real life, or any high-school movie, a typical student’s life is incomplete with school competitions specially inter-school ones where students come together to support their institution. All of a sudden, the same student who can’t stop cribbing about his lectures, becomes the biggest supporter of the school.

#4: Provides an experience


I personally believe that any campaign that takes the participant through a journey that is exciting to them and that they can relate to, works very well. The look and feel of everything involved in the campaign is hence very important in determining its success. Elements like a progress bar with a space shuttle,cute planet icons and space/cosmic/race lingo, converts the campaign into an exciting experience.

A “Global Leaderboard” that shows where your university stands in the race is another amazing addition that contributes to the experience this campaign seeks to provide. The top students within in each school are also listed which encourage students to ask their friends to join and hence increases the referral numbers.

#5: Is simple and easy

Another very important factor that makes a campaign viral is its simplicity. This campaign has just 2 simple tasks that it requires the students to do, sign-up with their school account and spread the word to their friends. There are no complex rules and regulations or any unnecessary steps involved. Simpler the campaign, faster is it adopted and spread. It helps the participants to enjoy the experience rather than wasting too much time on understanding the concept of the campaign.

In conclusion, I feel that this campaign by Dropbox certainly is a good case study on viral marketing and how targeted marketing can enable consumer retention. With Google Drive being launched recently, a lot students might try and shift slowly to it since it is well integrated with their Gmail. So maybe this campaign for students is an effort by Dropbox to retaining them and in a way increase their “switching costs”. Getting students super excited and giving away 25GB as a “Tuesday Morning Gift” is something that seems to be work in Dropbox’s favour for now!



Khyathi Nirmal Kumar

Khyathi is the Lead for the Technology & Education verticals at Happy Marketer.