Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Viral Marketing 101

In the internet environment the term "Viral Marketing" refers to any marketing strategy that encourages other people to spread a marketing message. Off the internet, it is usualy referred to as "word of mouth marketing" or "creating a buzz". It is called viral marketing because of the way the message spreads, which resembles that of a virus. Once a group of people has been infected, they will in tern infect others and so on, thus creating an exponential growth in the number of people who receive your message. This is what makes it a powerful marketing strategy.

Basically by creating an incentive for other people to distribute your marketing message you create a relatively low cost marketing campaign.

These incentives vary allot and do not have to be financially related. In other words, you do not necessarily have to offer people money to spread your message, the way multy-layer-marketing (or MLMs) works. 

As I said these incentives can vary. Some are more effective then others but in other for your viral marketing campaign to work it is imperative to take note of a cople of things:

- Make it easy for people to share it with others. 

This is one of the most important step of a successful and low cost viral marketing campaign.

- Take advantage of what motivates people. 

Other people won’t pass on your message if it does not appeal to them. Most people will spread your message if and only if it appeals to them in some way. For example if you make a funny video or very useful video, people who see it will most probably share it with their friend thus creating the viral spread I was talking about. There are many other ways people are motivated. Most people are looking for a couple of things: Acceptance, anything that will make them look cool or anything that produces an emotion.

- Give away free stuff. 

Here is a small example of a viral marketing campaign:

Hotmail is a popular example of an effective viral marketing campaign. When they started, they embedded in each outgoing email a signature instructing other people to get free email services from them. Every person sending an email would spread this message around to other people. This is the biggest contribution to the success of hotmail.