What is Viral Marketing? Viral marketing is a strategy that allows companies to post marketing messages and ads, which internet users forward to each other (sometimes not knowing that they are included in the message), over many different types of social media sites. These messages or ads multiply rapidly and are sent to thousands of people, just like viruses.
History of Viral Marketing Most individuals believe that viral marketing is new and does not have much history, but it is actually just over ten years old now (when people really started to use social media sites). The old form of viral marketing used to be referred to as “word of mouth,” which has been around forever! That is when an individual tells another individual something and it spreads around to many people. Companies use this to their advantage because it is a free way of marketing a product. The only difference is that viral marketing is over the internet.
Advantages of Viral Marketing
Accessed by millions of people per day
Quicker way of reaching the customer
Saves on advertising costs within companies
Customize the message to your preference
Can easily be directed to your exact target market
Sometimes gives the company a good reputation
Disadvantages of Viral Marketing
Can be annoying and be considered as spam
Only benefits the company if an actual sale is made from the ad
Focuses more on short term success
Many competitors can easily imitate the viral marketing techniques and steal the market from other companies
Can put out a negative impact on the company, in the same timing that it puts a positive impact on the company
Where Can Viral Marketing Be Found? Viral marketing can be found on social media sites such as:
Examples of Viral Marketing Hotmail Example: Most of Hotmail’s success was due to viral marketing, when it first launched. When an outgoing e-mail was sent through Hotmail, there was an attached ad at the bottom of the page inviting the person who received the e-mail to join Hotmail. There are millions of e-mails sent and received through Hotmail a day, that means that these messages would get passed along to millions of people each day. Facebook, Twitter and My Space Example: The ads that are usually on the right side of the page on Facebook, Twitter and My Space are considered viral marketing. These ads are all over these social media pages everyday. Millions of people see them, click on them and they may even purchase something from these ads. Companies use these social media websites to advertise because millions of people see them, but they can also target these ads toward their target market (age, gender, interests, etc).
Examples of Viral Marketing Continued YouTube Example: On YouTube, many users post millions of videos per day. These videos could be personal or company related. Many companies market their products on YouTube by creating funny and entertaining videos. These videos do not have to be professional, they just have to be able to grasp the audiences attention. If viewers enjoy the video they may start to post the video on their friends social media sites. This allows the video to be seen by many different people and also passed along to many people. A few examples of YouTube viral marketing are:
“Will It Blend?” – A company that produced blenders posted a video to advertise their product. They made the video funny and entertaining by blending items such as golf balls, a video camera, an iPod and an iPad. So many people viewed this video and passed it along to their friends which caused the sales of the blender to drastically increase.
Movie producers add small trailers of movies to YouTube before the official trailer is released. An example is the movie Colverfield. The movie producer put a really scary trailer of Cloverfield on YouTube, which left viewers wanting more. The next trailer was then released which convinced viewers to spend the money to go and see the movie in theatres. In the end the movies was not even that scary!
Works Cited Vaughn, J. (2009). History and Viral Marketing. Retrieved April 5, 2011, from http://varietyshops.com/2009/09/25/history-and-viral-marketing-2/ Wilson, F, R. (2005). The Six Simple Principals of Viral Marketing. Retrieved April 5, 2011, from http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt5/viral-principles.htm Hajara. (2010). Advantages and Disadvantages of Viral Marketing. Retrieved April 6, 2011, from http://www.tutebox.com/business/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-viral-marketing/ Social Maximizer. (2010). Retrieved April 6, 2011, from http://blog.socialmaximizer.com/youtube-business-use-cases/