Viral marketing is a term that is bandied around as the holy grail of marketing, but what is it and how does it work?
The term viral marketing refers to communications that are spread “virally” from person to person by word of mouth. This can be in person or through the wonderful World Wide Web.
You will probably already be part of various viral campaigns without even noticing! Have you sent or received entertaining Youtube clips, or hilarious ads from other countries, or seen a friend’s status update encouraging you to click through to help some sort of cancer research? Have you been extolling the virtues of a new technologically advanced or super sexy phone, car, beverage or computer? If the answer is yes, then you are part of a marketing teams viral campaign that is spreading.
Viral marketing is great for two reasons…
Recommendations from people of influence.
Word of mouth marketing means that brands are communicated from trusted sources. You are far more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend, family member or someone you admire than you are from an ad on TV or in a magazine. Clever marketers can try to influence all manner of perceptions and desires but at the end of the day, there is nothing as convincing as the opinions of your peers.
The opportunity for low cost marketing.
Other than the cost to create your viral campaign in the first place, the success of viral marketing is measured by the level of sharing through communities and social networks. Whether people are sitting around a dinner table talking about your campaign, updating their Facebook status with your links, mentioning your product on Twitter or sharing your branding in an email, they are all contributing to your marketing efforts and being part of your viral campaign.
We have seen a great example of this recently with German organisation Kauf Da who promise to plant a tree for every blog that mentions their program.
Another example was by EepyBird who brought us the Coke and Mentos experiments in explosive design.
If you have not yet been to TED.com it is well worth a few minutes (or hours!) browsing. TED talks are recorded presentations from speakers who gather at conferences to share ideas and links to these talks spread through the web at a rate of knots.
And last but not least Mark Ecko who won several awards for the clip where he was filmed tagging Air Force One.
Whether you are creating controversy, entertainment or saving the world one tree at a time, viral marketing is an opportunity to have a campaign (and your brand) spread person to person to a global audience, so get thinking!
oh and ps…