Viral marketing is the equivalent of online word-of-mouth. Viral marketing, aka Buzz marketing, uses all of the digital marketing media to disseminate a message which is passed along from person to person; it’s viral because it spreads like a virus or disease and if successful communications can expand exponentially.
Viral marketing campaigns are often spread via e-mail or social media (and here we include YouTube as well). The campaign can reach a large number of individuals in a relatively small amount of time, and marketers seek to harness this very powerful effect. So when planning an integrated marketing communications campaign today’s marketers will take into account viral marketing.
There are a number of mechanisms that can be used for viral marketing, which are known as agents, mechanics or execution types; these include, but are certainly not limited to, images, jokes, quizzes, video clips, games, e-cards, micro-sites, and others.
Example – Heineken India – Viral Marketing Campaign.
Viral marketing will help a business boost a cost-effective amount of brand awareness, and it could also plant the seeds for consumer awareness or interest in an alternative marketing communications campaign; for example it could be a teaser campaign. Other benefits include:
- viral marketing will extend other communications activities
- it will help you to reinforce, reinvent, and remind customers of existing or previous campaigns
- it will help amplify and extend the messages, and because it’s viral there is a novelty value to the campaign
- of course in relation to word-of-mouth marketing, there is a buzz which surround your campaign too
you will also reach beyond your organisation’s core market.
Conversely there are disadvantages to viral marketing, some of which are listed here:
- once the campaign started you cannot control it: a TV campaign can be stopped but a digital viral campaign cannot
- you cannot control when it starts and when it stops, or when it accelerates
- you cannot control the reach, and you may be communicating with segments who you would not generally target; this is
- wasteful but also means that you could be damaging your brand
- the viral might be taken out of context; the word-of-mouth effect could be perpetuating a problem, and it might be the problem which is the sole reason why the viral is successful.
What makes a successful viral?
- They can be funny.
- Virals can be outrageous
- It has a unique or controversial approach
- Culture can be challenged such as sex or religion
- Try something that has no connection with your product.
Example – Viral Marketing – Jimmy Kimmel