Viral marketing does exactly what it sounds like.
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The Internet opened up a whole new marketing world as a way to reach potential customers. "Viral marketing" is used as a way to describe the technique of creating buzz and awareness online in alternative ways.
What exactly is it?
Just like a virus that infects and spreads rapidly, so does this clever marketing tool.
Much like "buzz marketing," viral marketing feeds off a particular message the company sends out along with the help of the Internet. One person will view the marketing message and hopefully be affected by it. That person will then go on to pass this message to several people, who will be just as affected by it. They, too, will do the same as the first person; thus quickly sharing one common message with very little effort done from the marketer who created it.
This message may be in the form of a video, Web site, picture, blog, countdown, etcetera. Web sites such as YouTube and MySpace have been popular ways to put out viral marketing efforts. Not only are these sites heavily visited on a daily basis, providing maximum viewing potential, but both also make the message easy to view and share with a few clicks of the mouse.
The key is to produce something unexpected, shocking, or intriguing that will stir up enough of an emotion to persuade the viewer to share this feeling with others. To share the message, they may talk about, e-mail, or embed it into a personal Web site or profile.
Does Viral Marketing Work?
As negative as the word "viral" sounds, viral marketing can be a positive step for many companies. Word-of-mouth is by far one of the strongest tools a company has to promote a product. One of the biggest advantages is how inexpensive it can prove. Buzz can easily be created with little cost to the company, as long as there is a strong conveyed emotion and message.
To facilitate buzz, it is important to make the message easily viewable; whether that means making sure it can easily be embedded into a site or e-mail, or has a Web address that is simple to remember. People will want to see it "right now," and the company needs to cater to the urgency. The message will not be as effective if the newsworthy information is difficult to access.
You have to expect to receive some negative feedback on any viral campaign, however. There will be a portion of your audience that does not like what they see or hear. Don't be surprised or upset; remember that means they're still out talking about it. Be sure to note any criticisms that are repeated, as it gives insight into what to do, and not to do, for the next campaign.
If your campaign produced positive results, don't stop there. People will want to see more and are excited to see what the company will create next. Make sure not to disappoint!