How to Use Viral Marketing to Spread the Word About Your Business

The concept behind Viral Marketing

word-of-mouth:

The concept of viral marketing is by no means new. Word-of-mouth marketing, viral’s forefather, has been around for ages. The principle behind word-of-mouth marketing is simple; use influencers to generate peer-to-peer product recommendations or buzz. Prior to the advent of the Internet, however, this form of marketing was too disjointed to effectively benefit most advertisers. The effect of word-of-mouth was largely contained to specific geographic areas simply due to the lack of widespread social networks. Word-of- mouth was generally limited by the ability of the influencer to physically speak to another prospective customer, hence the term “word-of-mouth”.

Enter the internet: 

The Internet has radically changed the concept of word-of-mouth, so much so that the term “viral marketing” was coined by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson in 1997. The term was used to describe Hotmail’s email practice of appending advertising for themselves to outgoing mail from their users. The assumption is that if such an advertisement reaches a “susceptible” user, that user will become “infected” (i.e., sign up for an account) and can then go on to infect other susceptible users.

While email may have been the original catalyst; the advent of social networks, online communities and chat provide the ability to
distribute information exponentially faster than ever before. Where word-of-mouth marketing could take weeks or months to reach a thousand people, viral marketing can reach hundreds of thousands or millions in a matter of days or hours. The spread of an effective viral marketing campaign is akin to an epidemic outbreak of a virus, limited only by the potency and relevance of the marketing message.

Viral marketing defined:

The Wikipedia defines viral marketing as “marketing techniques that seek to exploit pre-existing social networks to produce exponential increases in brand awareness, through viral processes similar to the spread of an epidemic. It is word-of-mouth delivered and enhanced online; it harnesses the network effect of the Internet and can be very useful in reaching a large number of people rapidly.”

Why viral marketing?!

The proliferation of marketing and advertising, coupled with the onslaught of millions of media channels in today’s world, has given cause for consumers to tune out and effectively avoid a great deal of traditional supplier driven messaging. The creation of technologies such as PVRs, satellite radio and Internet ad blocking software are driving a fundamental shift in the way the public consumes media and the advertising often tied to it. Television ads, radio spots, online ads and even emails are facing increasing competition for effectively capturing the viewer’s attention and provide positive ROI for the marketer.

This competition, coupled with the rising cost of media buys, has caused marketers to search for an alternative means to reach the customer. Viral marketing is an attractive solution because it utilizes the free endorsement of the individual rather than purchase of mass media to spread the word. Because the distribution model is free, viral can potentially be lower cost and more effective than traditional media.it’s the best solution for all start-ups and who want to become an entrepreneurs

the viral effect

More than 90% of consumers said they told at least one other person about a Web site when the original recommendation came from a friend, according to Jupiter Research.

viral marketing advantages

1. Cuts through the clutter of traditional advertising, allowing marketers to effectively reach the audience.
2. Doesn’t require a product with a wow factor in order to raise awareness, generate buzz, and kick-start peer-to-peer spread. Instead, the viral campaign’s communication agent is the element that needs a wow factor or element of interest.
2. Unlike traditional advertising viral is not an interruptive technique. Instead, viral campaigns work the Internet to deliver exposure via peer-to-peer endorsement. Viral campaigns, whether ultimately liked or disliked, are often welcomed by the receiver. The focus is on campaigns with material that consumers want to spend time interacting with and spreading proactively.

viral marketing disadvantages

Viral marketing, like all marketing is hit or miss. However, viral marketing by nature is often more risky or controversial than traditional marketing. If done improperly viral marketing can backfire and create negative buzz.

The Marketing Mix:

Viral marketing is by no means a substitute for a comprehensive and diversified marketing strategy and marketing objectives. In employing viral marketing to generate peer-to- peer endorsement, brands have also learned that the technique should not be considered as a standalone miracle worker.

James Kydd, Brand Director for Virgin Mobile who just launched the 11th release in their successful series of viral marketing campaigns, states, “viral marketing is best used not as a one-off tactical end in itself, but as an integrated strategic part of the overall marketing mix. It is a means to an end whereby it not only generates buzz, but also provides ongoing, quantifiable brand benefits, such as increased awareness, peer-to-peer endorsement and ultimately more sales.”