Viral marketing is a relatively new marketing technique used by businesses of all sizes. It can include word of mouth, but mainly refers to using social networking sites to increase brand awareness or increase sales. It is so termed because the message self-replicates like a virus to be spread to other people.
Viral marketing can take many forms. The most popular methods are status updates on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. Messages can also be delivered via text, software, images or Flash based games.
Viral marketing depends on the message being passed along quickly and to many users. When the first message is sent, the more followers that pass along the message to their followers, the faster the message will begin to spread. Many factors are used when creating a viral marketing campaign. The right message must be sent to the right messengers in the right environment.
The message should be directed at followers with a high social networking potential. These are people with a high number of followers or have faithful followers. This creates the highest odds that the message will be delivered to many others in a short amount of time.
The message should be interesting and memorable in order to be more likely to be passed along. The more interesting a message is, the greater interest that will be sparked. Social networking users are more likely to pass along a message they think their friends and followers will enjoy receiving.
Timing also plays a crucial element in delivery of message. Posts should be made at the appropriate time before the event. The time of day and the day of the week can also affect how a message is received and passed along. Because social networking sites operate in real time, the message should be delivered at the time when more followers or fans will be online to see it.
Using the right combination of time, message and social network can make a single message go viral. Viral marketing is very effective, as a single message has the potential to be seen by thousands to millions of people. People spend more time on social networking sites than any other activity online. Ignoring this powerful marketing technique can be detrimental to any size company.
An excellent example of a viral campaign is the Old Spice Man. It featured an attractive, alpha-male type man saying and doing funny things and tying it to the fact that you or your man could be like him if you used Old Spice. What made this campaign particularly viral was not just that it was funny and amusing but that it was also interactive and evolving. As people commented on the Old Spice commercials, the Old Spice Man would create additional videos that were both funny and personalized. Beyond just targeting normal people, Old Spice Man would reply to celebrity twitter comments. These celebrities typically have a louder megaphone than most people and this helped Old Spice Man spread faster and more successfully than most campaigns before him.