The goal of any business owner interested in creating a successful viral marketing campaigns is to identify individuals or outlets with high Social Networking Potential (read “How Ford Got Social Marketing Right“) and create viral messages that appeal to this segment of the population.
Notable examples of viral marketing are “Ponzi schemes”, “Pyramid schemes” and multi-level marketing (MLM). Today, they have been replaced by the likes of The Big Word Project, Will it Blend and The Mike O’Meara Show.
At the height of B2C (Business to Consumer) it seemed as if every startup had a viral component to its strategy, or at least claimed to have one. However, relatively few marketing viruses achieve success on a scale similar to Hotmail, widely cited as the first example of modern-day viral marketing.
Viral Marketing Defined
According to Wikipedia, viral marketing refers to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages.
Elements of Viral Marketing
A viral message has the ability to be forwarded on the Internet. An effective viral marketing strategy:
- Give away products or services
- Provides for effortless transfer to others
- Scales easily from small to large
- Exploits common motivations and behaviors
- Utilizes existing communication networks
- Takes advantage of others’ resources
YouTube is a great example of viral marketing. Due to a combination of elements (from timelines to inherent humor to the manner in which the clip is distributed), certain video clips on YouTube end up as “Viral Videos.” The name is an allusion to the manner in which diseases spread–these videos, like a new strain of flu virus, start out being shared among a few people. But, also like the same flu virus, as each person who has been exposed to the video continues to pass a link to it along, the videos rack up view counts and end up viral-like phenomena.
Here are 34 ways to use YouTube (and other video hosting services) for business.
Different methods of Viral Marketing
E-mail: One of the easiest and simplest methods is email. It can be in the form of articles or advertisements which are sent to a large number of people based on your mailing list and if it results in forwarding the mail to other friends or known persons then viral marketing occurs.
Web forms: Various forms are available on the web and if your click on them, you are asked to fill in certain details that might include e-mail addresses. You are prompted to send something to your friend and if you willingly pass it to others, it is viral marketing.
Blogs: An effective viral marketing can be done through blogs. The links or information contained on a blog can often be copied to some other blogs and this increases the reach. With numerous blogs published on the Internet, you can expand exponentially.
Forums and Messages: Sending links through different messages or forums can be considered to be another type of viral marketing. A link that is present in a forum or chat room can often lead to greater links to your website than you might even expect.
Bookmarking: Allowing an easy process to your audience so that they can bookmark your website, can lead to expanding your network. If a visitor bookmarks your website, the potential of viral marketing gets enhanced.