What is Viral
1. (Business/Marketing) a direct
marketing technique in which a
company persuades Internet
users to forward its publicity
material in E-mails (usually by
including jokes, games, video
2. (Business/Marketing) a
marketing strategy in which
conventional media are eschewed
in favour of various techniques
designed to generate word-ofmouth publicity, in the hope of
creating a fad or craze
Viral Marketing, Viral Advertising or Marketing Buzz refer to
Marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networking
services and other technologies to in crease a brand awareness
or to achieve other marketing objectives, such as an increase in
product sales. It is done through using a self-replicating viral
It can be delivered by word of mouth or by the Internet and
mobile phone networks. Viral marketing may take the form of
video clips, interactive games, adver-games, ebooks, brandable
software, images, text messages, e-mails, or web pages. The
most common transmission vehicles for viral messages include:
Pass-along, incentive, trendy, and undercover.
The ultimate goal of marketers interested in creating successful
advertising is to create viral messages that appeal to
individuals with high social networking potential(SNP) so there
is a high probability of the message being presented and
widely spread by these individuals in a short period of time.
The term "VRL marketing" has also been used to refer
to stealth marketing campaigns—the use of astroturfing online
combined with undermarket advertising in shopping centres to
create the impression of spontaneous word of
The History of Viral Advertising
In 2004, the concept of the alpha user was thought
up. It had become possible to identify focal members
of any viral campaign, the people who were most
influential. Alpha users could be targeted.
In 1997, Tim Draper and Steve
Jurvetson, of the venture capital firm
‘Draper Fisher Jurvetson’, describe
adding advertising to outgoing mail
from Hotmail users.
In the early 90’s, the term
“Viral Advertising” was
created by Harvard
Business School graduate
Tim Draper and faculty
member Jeffery Rayport.
In early 2013 the first ever Viral
Summit was held. It attempted
to identify similar trends in viral
marketing methods for various
Media critic, Doug Rushkoff, was among
the first to write about viral marketing
on the Internet. Bob Gerstley was one of
the first to write about algorithms
designed to identify people with high
"social networking potential.”
The term was popularized by
Rayport in 1996, in the article "The
Virus of Marketing”.
The Basic Criteria
Marketing Professors, Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, say there are three basic criteria
that must be met in viral advertising, these are:
Three specific types are required to ensure the transformation of an ordinary message into a
viral one: market mavens, social hubs, and salespeople. Market mavens are individuals who
are information specialists, and are usually among the first to be exposed to the message,
transmitting it to their immediate social network. Social hubs are people with an very large
number of social connections, often knowing hundreds of people and serve as connectors
between different subcultures. Salespeople receive a message from the market maven,
amplify it by making it more relevant and persuasive, and then transmit it to the social hub for
further distribution. Market mavens may not be particularly convincing.
Only the ones that are memorable and interesting get passed on to others and have the
potential to spur a viral marketing phenomenon. Making a message more infectious is often
just about minor adjustments.
This is crucial in the rise of successful viral marketing – small changes lead to huge results,
people are also very sensitive to environment. The timing and context of the campaign launch
must be right.
7 Common Types
E-mail was once the only way that viral
marketing started. Since then, it has gone
from a marketing strategy to an art form.
There are many ways to create a successful
viral campaign. Seven of those ways are:
1. E-mail: It was first but it is still works.
However, a little harder to use as more
restrictions have been placed on it.
2. Newsletters: This is an extension of email but very effective. If you include
enough valuable information, it can drive
up the number of visits to your website.
3. Blogging: Having this tool on your
website enables bloggers to interact with
one another and is a terrific way to get the
message about your product out there.
Bloggers have their ears to the ground for
new products and services.
4. Chat Rooms: One on your website can
encourage interaction among your
customers. You can also use it to schedule
special events, like having an expert
available to answer questions on a given
day at a given time.
5. Tell-a-friend Script: If you add this and
include that e-mail addresses supplied will
never be shared with third parties, you can
increase your potential customer list
6. Video Clips: Including cool video clips on
your website will keep up the interest and
7. Flash Games: Although they are a little
costly, they are extremely effective and get
your viral campaign going. Once launched,
they require nothing more from you.
What makes the perfect viral ad?
Sneezing pandas. Laughing babies. Sleeping dogs. Things such as
sneezing pandas and laughing babies might not be clever but they are
still pored over by marketers. Why? Because they have successfully
"gone viral" and viewed by millions of people. It is very difficult to say
you’re going to create a viral because a lot of things become viral by
accident. When you make going viral an aim, things can go wrong.
Getting the public to take part helps create a viral effect, like in the
Metropolitan Police's anti-knife crime film ‘Choose a Different Ending’,
where viewers chose different scenarios. On YouTube, the viral ads
that are successful are those that ask you to engage and appeal to you
on an emotional level. T-Mobile used flash mob techniques, getting
passers-by to join the dance and got more than 30m hits on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ3d3KigPQM. But public
involvement is no security for success. Brands like Dolmio asked the
public to upload their own versions of their TV adverts, with questionable results. Most people feel a
bit wary about brands making virals, they don't like feeling the wool is being pulled over their eyes,
the branding has to be really subtle.
Successful virals often tie in with the news. Brands need to act fast to capture the moment, but
can get caught out. Vodafone suffered a backlash in Egypt after its agency released a video
suggesting the telecoms giant helped inspire the nation's revolution. The film quickly went viral,
but so did the backlash. Overall, there is no perfect recipe, but for best results, don’t aim to make
it viral, keep up with times and get the public involved.
The Last Exorcism – Lionsgate Films used Chatroulette, an online chat room for people with
webcams, and following it’s stereotype, they promoted their film by having a series of young
women appear as “up for a good time”. The men watching, would see a girl start to unbutton
her top, then she would turn into a demonic monster. They would be terrified, then see an URL
for the film’s official website. Watch Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNSaurw6E_Q
Blair Witch Project – The selling point of Star Trek Into Darkness – This kicked off with some
this film was that it was “real footage”
pretty subtle marketing, some fans noticed what
and based on “a true story”, so these
looked like a secret URL hidden in a scene in one of
were the strengths they played with. A
the trailers – “AreYouThe1701.com”. Big time fans
basic website was created, detailing the figured the connection and the mention of ‘1701′ gave
story of the Blair Witch, from 1785,
viewers belief it was connected to Kirk and his
when it began, to 1997, when the
Enterprise. When viewing the site, a sign up form
footage was ‘discovered’. Rumours of a could be seen, as well as links to Twitter and Facebook
witch in the woods which made people
which were giving out obscure messages.
disappear fuelled the flames, and the
team behind the film joined online
forums adding extra information. As an
extra add-on to, three actors from the
film were also listed as ‘missing,
presumed dead’ on IMDB.
Dark Knight – 42 Entertainment played on what would
become the films famous tagline and created
‘whysoserious.com’, a website which sent fans on a
scavenger hunt, finding clues to unlock special content,
like teaser trailers and hidden messages. These instructed
fans to uncover clues at certain locations throughout the
States. When put together online, the combined clues
revealed an image of the Joker and an audio clip of him
saying “and tonight, you’re gonna break one rule”.
The website was continually updated and edited, to keep
content fresh and fans engaged.
District 9 – The filmmakers created a series of
adverts and stickers placed in several cities on bus
stops, trains and benches with the words “For
Humans Only”. Below it was a phone number, the
call directed people to a website. Each website for
the film focused on a different area of District 9′s
world. These kept viewers from all over
interested, talking about District 9 and who those