What Are The Basics Of Viral Marketing?

What Is Viral Marketing?

Viral Marketing is a method used to pass on a message through word of mouth or other means in an exponential manner.  The basics of viral marketing require that the message must spread quickly to a large audience in a relatively short period of time.  Viral marketing often utilizes social networks of some kind.  The introduction of the internet and social media in particular, has increased its velocity and impact.

How Does Viral Marketing Work?

Well, viral marketing works somehow the same way a lethal virus works.  It spreads quickly and rapidly.  For those of you who have watched the movie Contagion you kind of get the idea.  One person sees it, and they are so excited about it, they tell others.  The others in turn see it as worth sharing and spread it too.

In the end, people utilize their own contacts to spread a specific message or information about your product.  This is why every marketer dreams of creating the next big viral marketing campaign; because of the potential exposure it gives them.

Getting It Right

With the advent of complicated traffic analyzing tools, most marketers have lost sight of the basics of viral marketing.  Like any other marketing strategy, viral marketing is supposed to have a direct impact on your balance sheet.  However, most marketers are obsessed with the numbers rather than the impact those numbers have on the sales figures.

As a result, marketers are caught in the trap of making exciting viral messages that are irrelevant.  You see, no one in the management wants to know that 3 million people watched your video.

They want to know, what the impact on sales of that marketing campaign was.  It is therefore very important to make sure that your message is not compromised as you look to get the right numbers.

Therefore, in order to make sure that you have content worth viral status, you need to be creative.  However, you also need to make sure that this creativity does not sacrifice the sales effect of your message.  Otherwise, you are wasting time!

Examples Of Viral Marketing

There are great examples of viral marketing strategies.  The earliest company to take advantage of internet viral marketing was (unbelievably) Hotmail!  Though this e-mail provider is trailing the pack now, in its heyday in 1996, it expanded exponentially from half a million to more than 12 million users in just under a year!

It did this by including a segment at the bottom of every e-mail its users sent inviting the recipient to join Hotmail.  This combined with its free and easy to join policy created a successful campaign.

Other great viral campaigns include Burger King’s Subservient Chicken (46 million people reached in a week!), Thresher’s “leaked” voucher, Cadbury’s Gorilla advert and Apple’s Free Macbook Air promotion.

All these have one thing in common: they were creative and generated hype because people wanted to share them.  Sticking to these basics of viral marketing will help you build your brand too.