Viral marketing is among the newest phenomena to grace the marketing scene and it goes without saying that it is fast becoming one of the most effective if applied correctly. But what exactly is Viral Marketing? We have all read about viruses in our school, and we all know how deadly they can be at times. But why has a marketing method been named after it? Viral marketing basically describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence. Let us understand Viral Marketing in detail:
1. A Viral marketing campaign always revolves around an idea. This idea is not like your any of your regular idea. It is different in the sense that people hook to it because they find it interesting, daring, innovative, thought provoking etc.
- You need to make the people feel something. It can be anything love, hate, happiness, anger, compassion or arrogance. You cannot be neutral. There will always be people in favour of your idea and others against it and Viral Marketing is all about emotions. The point is that for some reason or the other people not only pay attention to it but also spread it among their friends.
- You need to do something unexpected. If all you do is try promote your product and tell people how cool it is than it won’t ever become viral. Why, because everybody does that. There is nothing new in it. Your idea should be different –it should be unexpected. Example the Zoozoes by Vodaphone. Nobody expected Vodaphone to come with it.
2. Your Idea can take up any form. It can be a video clip, maybe a trailer of an upcoming movie, a song, an advertisement, interactive flash game, brandable softwares, advergames, images and even text images.
3. Viral Media and Social media go hand in hand. Why, simply because social media is the only place where you find thousands of people connected with each other and hence there is a greater chance of the idea spreading. Besides it is because of the New Media that viral marketing is such an effective tool. It guarantees the exponential growth of the idea (but of course the message needs to be good in the first place). To understand the mechanism of Viral Marketing in context of Social Media first understand the following terms:
- Messengers: These are the people that take part in Viral Marketing. They are of three kinds:
- Market Mavens: They are the ones that get hold of the information first hand and are the first ones to spread the word. Market Mavens can be recognised as those people which always on the lookout of interesting stuff on the internet.
- Social Hubs: These are the people with large connections of people. Because of their huge network they help in spreading the idea to large number of people in short time
- Sales people: They are the ones responsible for creating the media message, its presentation and bridging the information gap between the Market Mavens and Social Hubs.
4. It needs to be kept in mind that Viral marketing depends on a high pass along rate from person to person.If a large percentage of recipients forward something to a large number of friends, the overall growth snowballs very quickly. If the pass-along numbers get too low, the overall growth quickly fizzles. Also part of the same is responding to people’s feedback. You need to reply to comments on the internet and answer other forms of enquiry such as calls and letters.
5. Also to keep people interested you need to have sequels or stages for your campaign to go viral. It provides connectivity and strengthens brand value of the product. Besides it exploits the curiosity factor in people. People will always want to know more about anything especially one that interests them.
6. All Viral Marketing Strategies are not the same and some definitely work better than others. Still every marketing strategy more of less has the following features:
- Gives away valuable products or services: The best things in the world are free and this is especially true for a viral campaign. Cheap and inexpensive would get some people interested but free is just something else. And it does not mean that you need to cheat people rather like any smart marketer offer free and valuable service. And then offer better features in the ‘Pro’ version for some fee.
- Provides for effortless transfer to others: You will have to persuade others to pass on the service to others. The product or service should be in a format that can be easily passed on from one person to another. Likewise the marketing message should be simple enough to be passed around without the loss of information.
Similarly never restrict access to people. You need to take care that:
- Do not make it mandatory for people to be members
- Not to ask people to download a software (of course not when the software is the product itself)
- Do not ask them to try any kind of unlock codes
- Post direct links
- Scales easily from small to very large: For the marketing campaign to be spread like a wildfire you need to have a backup. For example if the marketing campaign becomes viral overnight that would mean an increase in inquiry calls from people interested. But if there is only one person handling the calls then he would get frustrated which means unhappy callers and loss of business.
- Utilizes existing communication networks: Remember that here the other people would do marketing for you. Netizens often bookmark their favourite sites and store things that interest them. Affiliate programs exploit such networks, as do permission e-mail lists. Learn to place your message into existing communications between people, and you rapidly multiply its dispersion.
7. A Viral Marketing campaign should have a consequence for your business. For example if a company Green Entertainment comes with a YouTube video which becomes an instant hit. But this video does not represent any product (that can be brought)from that company. The million likes that they would get on YouTube will not convert into sales for that company. But if at the end they say that one can buy the sequel to it then most probably people will go and buy it. Here Viral Marketing will be equal to increase in sale of a product.
Most often than not people do not expect that their simple idea would convert into a Viral campaign, and then they get a pleasant surprise when it happens. Kolaveri Di is one of the best examples. So it is always better to experiment with your idea as Viral Marketing is only here to stay. So better push your sleeves up and get to work and you could be the next Dhanush.
Check out some more Viral Examples; I am sure you will enjoy it.