If you are a seasoned internet user, you’ve probably already heard of viral marketing. The premise of viral marketing has actually been around long before the internet, right from the time conniving businessmen came up with Ponzi schemes. However, the term viral marketing is rather new, and came into existence thanks to the internet and online social media.
Just like a virus which spreads with little warning, and overpowers everyone it comes in contact with, a viral marketing campaign also works its way into people lives. The only difference here is while people will step away the moment they know you have a viral-something; viral marketing actually brings people closer in many ways, and fosters new relationships in many others.
Take for instance, Hotmail. The webs first free email service, all Hotmail did was add a simple Get your private, free email at http://www.hotmail.com at the end of every email that its users sent out and then waited for their users network to bring in the customers.
That’s what viral marketing does: it tries to cash in on an existing network to advertise or market a product. Over time the nature of these networks has changed; from friends and relatives or co-workers to the church community to online communities to Facebook friends and twitter followers. The premise however, remains the same: infect as many as possible!
For you as a businessman, viral marketing has so much more significance, particularly now. That’s because today’s networks are so much more vast, fast-growing and diverse, thanks to online social media. It’s also because if your business has an online presence the whole wide world is your market, and viral marketing is the best way to reach it.
Take a look at You Tube. The mecca for internet & viral marketers, a creative video is all you need to generate shocking number of leads in an equally shocking time. The biggest shocker is that most of the videos are really simple ideas, and many of them have real questionable graphics.
However, that’s the beauty of YouTube. This (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjA5faZF1A8) video of a guy playing awesome guitar has almost 85 million views. A small link at the bottom tells people to visit a website to learn the skills. Would you like to bet how many clicked it?
What makes a viral campaign is not so much the offering, but the campaign itself. It’s important to ask how many hits GuitarMasterPro may have received had the video not been as speechlessly awesome as it is. Regardless of the type of business you’ve got, an interesting campaign, something that people want to share with others, will always get you attention, even if indirectly.
At the same time, if you have a great product or service, viral marketing is one of the least expensive ways to get your message across, and offers the highest return on your investment.
Another important aspect to the success of a viral campaign is picking the right network. While YouTube is great because anyone can see the videos, a campaign for a social cause is less likely to be distributed through it.
If word-of-mouth is what you need, then you are better off with a great Twitter network. However, it is important to first have a decent Twitter network if your offering is good, it will catch on.