viral marketing project by manoj prajapatiDocument Transcript
Jagannath International Management School
A MINOR PROJECT REPORT
Viral marketing strategies adopted by today's MNC's
Submitted in partial fulfillment of requirement of Bachelor of
Business Administration (B.B.A) General
BBA 3rd Semester (Evening) (Section-B)
Submitted To Submit By
Dr. Anubhav sir Manoj Kumar
(Assistant Professor) Enrollment no.
JAGANNATH INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT SCHOOL
Description Page No.
Student undertaking 2
Executive summary 5
Introduction to topic 7
Research Methodology 26
Analysis & Interpretation 31
Literature Review 36
Findings & Inferences 44
Recommendations and Conclusion 47
I hereby certify that this is my original work and it has never been submitted
This is to certify that Manoj Kumar student of BBA III SEMESTER JIMS KALKAJI has
under gone is search project onViral Marketing Strategies Adopted by Today‘s MNC‘s.
And submitted project based on the same as a mandatory requirement for obtaining the
degree of Bachelor of Business Administration.
I further declared that I or any other person has not previously submitted this project
report to any other institution/university for any other degree/diploma or any other
Place- Delhi (Manoj Kumar)
It is certified that this project has been prepared and submitted under my guidance.
Date: (Anubhav sir)
Place: Delhi (Associate Professor)
A lot of effort has gone into this minor report. My thanks are due to many people with
whom I have been closely associated. I would like to say thanks to all those who have
contributed in completing this project. First of all, I would like to send my sincere thanks
to Dr. Anubhav sir for his helpful hand in the completion of my project. I would like to
thank my entire beloved family & friends for providing me monetary as well as non –
monetary support, as and when required, without which this project would not have
completed on time. Their trust and patience is now coming out in form of this.
For the preparation of this project I interviewed the manager who provided me the ample
information about Viral Marketing strategies. I also interviewed some customer to their
perception about Viral Marketing. I also looked for their ads and web sites so also used
my personal observation as a source. I consulted many books and journals for the purpose
of my analysis.
The paper explores the attraction of Viral Marketing as well as challenges associated with
Viral Marketing campaigns.
* The paper outlines the different viral techniques including blogs and social networking.
* And it also examines different
Mumbai Internet user's awareness approaches and identifies the features of Viral
Marketing in order to demonstrateeffectiveness.
Viral Marketing started out as individuals forwarded e-mails from one person to another,
but evolved into anextreme complex advertising medium that many companies are
currently utilizing. Viral marketing includes theuse of downloads from websites and
promotional incentives. The users of this marketing medium are using localcontacts and
intimate market knowledge to build strongerrelationships than those developed through
more impersonal media. The issue at hand, is this an unethicalmarketing or business
This research paper concerns the nature of viral marketing campaigns and identification
of heir critical success factors. The first section is a literature review that presents a
summary of findings of all key aspects of viral marketing ever since it emerged to the
scene. The latter section contains the findings of a series of interviews conducted with
viral marketing professionals from advertising agencies and companies. The findings
show that any marketing communications message has the potential to go viral provided
that the social objectit contains is audience relevant and that the proper viral mechanics
are in place. Three types ofcontent are identified which increase the likelihood of a
marketing communications message going viral and those include: entertainment,
positive messages and interactive content.
Furthermore, the findings show that the role of virality within integrated
marketingcommunications remains primarily associated with short-term marketing
objectives such as sales, raising awareness etc. however not exclusively so, depending on
the type of content of the campaign in question.
This thesis investigates the concept of viral marketing. The study claims that viral
marketing is becoming increasingly recognized as an important form of promotion,
particularly within the online environments. In a world where consumers are showing
increasing resistance to traditional form of advertising, the Internet with its online social
and consumer communities offering interactivity and peer-to-peerconnections plays a
critical role in information distribution and consumers‘ choices.
New marketing activities – e.g. word of mouth, buzz and viral marketing – gained more
attention while marketers are responding to the need of distribute their messages in new
ways. Being a relatively new concept, viral marketing is multi-interpreted. It is often
defined as a set of online techniques seeking to exploit pre-existing social networks to
produce exponential increases in brand awareness, through processes similar to the
spread of an epidemic. The present study seeks to explore the factors and trends that are
likely to enhance the chances to define and depict viral marketing. Introduction and
literature overview are drawing from different types of fonts –both academic and
Furthermore the thesis examines findings from Internet based discussions executed in an
international online professional network – LinkedIn
(www.linkedin.com). Seven questions were employed in order to elicit a definition of
viral marketing based on the online professional network‘s users‘ perspective of the
phenomenon. Respondents are mainly marketing and communication professionals,
some of them shared his/her valuable business intelligence based on a multi-year
experience achieved by working with world famous brands.
The findings highlight the further need for conceptualizing viral marketing. It was not
clearly defined its relation to word of mouth, but it was figured out the potential impact
of the context and the characteristics of the message on how fast can be a message
delivered. Research limitations suggest undertaking a replication of the study with a
different research design, namely based on focus group discussions.
Therefore the findings are more tentative and based on a research sample of which results
are not representative. However, they provide a useful framework for future research into
the process of viral marketing and it revealed the opportunity to examine its relation to
theories in social networking and computer-mediated communications.
INTRODUCTION TO THE TOPIC
No points for guessing which technique of marketing is the most widely researched today
for being the most powerful tool of marketing. You must have seen that the featured
books at Amazon.com are often on ‗Viral Marketing‘. Viral Marketing is one of the most
successful techniques of marketing that cost no money at all, but can achieve
unbelievable results. Also known as ‗word of the mouth marketing‘ viral marketing
exploits pre-existing social-networks to produce brand-awareness. The question must
have been lurking in your mind—why is it called Viral Marketing? Sounds a bit awful,
don‘t it? Sounds like virus! But that‘s exactly how this dynamic technique of marketing
achieves results. It expands its network the way virus spreads. In unprecedented short
time it expands network to mammoth figures. Now take a look at the representation
“Viral marketing campaigns produce 750% more clickthroughs than
traditional banner ads.” --MarketingExperiments.com, November 2006
"Viral marketing is the process of implementing
means or tools through which the knowledge of
your existence self-propagates."
Top 10 Viral Videos
1. Star Wars Kid (900 million)
2. Numa Numa (700 million)
3. One Night In Paris (400 million)
4. Kylie Minogue for Agent Provocateur (360 million)
5. The Exploding Whale (350 million)
6. John West Salmon Bear Fight (300 million)
7. Trojan Games (300 million)
8. Kolla2001 (200 million)
9. AfroNinja (80 million)
10. The Shining Redux (50 million)
-Taken from “The Daily Mail”
That‘s how virus multiplies…doubling itself at every step. That is exactly the way viral
marketing grows too. You can clearly see from the pyramid above that it has grown…and
is growing to a large figure by doubling from just 1. Some marketing gurus borrowed the
concept and built up a marketing concept that spreads like epidemic. The central idea is
that people will pass on and share interesting and entertaining content forwarding it to
their friends and colleagues; the content of which is often sponsored by a brand that
islooking to build awareness of a product or service.These often take 8 Viral Marketing
on Auto-Pilot the form of free material like free e-books, funny pictures, funny video
clips, interactive Flash games, jokes, and more. You can run a very successful Viral
marketing campaign on a shoestring, or zero budget and achieve results that other forms
of marketing may or may not achieve after spending a fortune. Viral marketing is
sometimes used by some internet-based stealth marketing campaigns, including the use of
blogs, or by apparently amateur web sites, to create word-of-mouth for a new product or
History of Viral Marketing
The name Viral Marketing was probably first used by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson
in 1997 while describing Hotmail's (he was the venture capitalist behind Hotmail, before
it was sold to MSN) email practice of attaching their own advertisements with outgoing
mail from their users. Noted media critic Douglas Rush off wrote about Viral marketing
in his book Media Virus (1994); and that was probably the first article on this technique
of marketing. In this book he wrote that Viral Marketing works. Even if we presume that
many people who receive your free gifts will not share with others, still there will be 80%
others who will share, and go ahead to pass them down to friends and acquaintances. He
has written, that this network continues to seven or eight levels before the campaign fades
World famous examples of Viral Marketing
Hotmail promotion campaign
Gmail promotion campaign
Microsoft‘s Origami Project campaign Tupperware popularization
Popularization of text massaging
Popularization of chat
BMW‘s Mini Cooper campaign
Ford Motor‘s Evil Twin campaign
Elements of a Viral Marketing Strategy
Accept this fact. Some viral marketing strategies work better than others, and little work
as wellas the simple Hotmail.com strategy. But below are the six basic elements you hope
to include inyour strategy. A viral marketing strategy need not contain ALL these
elements, but the moreelements it embraces, the more powerful the results are likely to
be. An effective viral marketingstrategy:
Gives away products or services
Provides for effortless transfer to others
Scales easily from small to very large
Exploits common motivations and behaviors
Utilizes existing communication networks
Takes advantage of others' resources
Let's examine at each of these elements briefly.
1. Gives away valuable products or services
"Free" is the most powerful word in a marketer's vocabulary. Most viral marketing
programs giveaway valuable products or services to attract attention. Free e-mail
services, free information,free "cool" buttons, free software programs that perform
powerful functions but not as much asyou get in the "pro" version. Wilson's Second Law
of Web Marketing is "The Law of Giving and Selling". "Cheap" or "inexpensive"
maygenerate a wave of interest, but "free" will usually do it much faster. Viral marketers
practicedelayed gratification. They may not profit today, or tomorrow, but if they can
generate agroundswell of interest from something free, they know they will profit "soon
and for the rest oftheir lives" (with apologies to "Casablanca").
Eyeballs then see other desirable things that you are selling, and, presto! You earn
Eyeballs bring valuable e-mail addresses, advertising revenue, and e-commerce
salesopportunities. Give away something, sell something.
2. Provides for effortless transfer to others
Public health nurses offer sage advice at flu season: stay away from people who cough,
washyour hands often, and don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Viruses only spread
when they'reeasy to transmit. The medium that carries your marketing message must be
easy to transfer andreplicate: e-mail, website, graphic, software download. Viral
marketing works famously on theInternet because instant communication has become so
easy and inexpensive. Digital formatmake copying simple. From a marketing standpoint,
you must simplify your marketing messageso it can be transmitted easily and without
degradation. Short is better. The message is compelling, compressed, andcopied at the
bottom of every free e-mail message.
3. Scales easily from small to very large
To spread like wildfire the transmission method must be rapidly scalable from small to
verylarge. The weakness of the Hotmail model is that a free e-mail service requires its
ownmailservers to transmit the message. If the strategy is wildly successful, mailservers
must beadded very quickly or the rapid growth will bog down and die. If the virus
multiplies only to kill thehost before spreading, nothing is accomplished. So long as you
have planned ahead of timehow you can add mailservers rapidly you're okay. You must
build in scalability to your viralmodel.
4. Exploits common motivations and behaviors
Clever viral marketing plans take advantage of common human motivations. What
"Netscape Now" buttons in the early days of the Web? The desire to be cool. Greed
drivespeople. So does the hunger to be popular, loved, and understood. The resulting urge
tocommunicate produces millions of websites and billions of e-mail messages. Design
marketingstrategy that builds on common motivations and behaviors for its transmission,
and you have awinner.
5. Utilizes existing communication networks
Most people are social. Nerdy, basement-dwelling computer science grad students are
theexception. Social scientists tell us that each person has a network of 8 to 12 people in
their closenetwork of friends, family, and associates. A person's broader network may
consist of scores,hundreds, or thousands of people, depending upon her position in
society. A waitress, forexample, may communicate regularly with hundreds of customers
in a given week. Networkmarketers have long understood the power of these human
networks, both the strong, closenetworks as well as the weaker networked relationships.
People on the Internet developnetworks of relationships, too. They collect e-mail
addresses and favorite website URLs. Affiliateprograms exploit such networks, as do
permission e-mail lists. Learn to place your message intoexisting communications
between people, and you rapidly multiply its dispersion.
6. Takes advantage of others' resources
The most creative viral marketing plans use others' resources to get the word out.
Affiliateprograms, for example, place text or graphic links on others' websites. Authors,
who give awayfree articles, seek to position their articles on others' webpages. A news
release can be pickedup by hundreds of periodicals and form the basis of articles seen by
hundreds of thousands ofreaders. Now someone else's newsprint or webpage is relaying
your marketing message.Someone else's resources are depleted rather than your own.
7 Different Types Of Viral Marketing
In the beginning, e-mail was the one way that viral marketing was started.
Since that long ago day, viral marketing has gone from a marketing strategy to an art
form and there are many ways to accomplish the objective of creating a successful viral
Seven of those ways are:
1. E-mail: It was first but it is still around and still used. It is, however, getting a
little harder to use as more and more government restrictions are placed on it.
Still… it does work.
2. Newsletters: This is an extension of e-mail but it a very effective tool. If you
include enough timely and valuable information, a good newsletter can drive up
the number of visits to your website.
3. Blogging: Providing the tools on your website to enable bloggers to interact
with one another is a terrific way to get the message about your product of service
out there and being talked about. Bloggers have their ears to the ground for new
products and services.
4. Chat Rooms: A chat room on your website can and does encourage interaction
among your customers and that can‘t be a bad thing. Also, you can use the chat
room 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 with a statement saying that e-mail
addresses supplied will never be shared with third parties, you can increase your
potential customer list greatly.
6. Video Clips: Including cool video clips on your website will keep the interest
up and increase traffic.
7. Flash Games: Although they are a little costly to start, they are an extremely
effective tool to get your viral marketing campaign going. Once they are
launched, they require nothing more from you.
Methods and metrics
According to marketing professors Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, to make viral
marketing work, three basic criteria must be met, i.e., giving the right message to the
right messengers in the right environment:
1. Messenger: Three specific types of messengers 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 continuously ‗on
the pulse‘ of things (information specialists); they are usually among the first to
get exposed to the message and who transmit it to their immediate social network.
Social hubs are people with an exceptionally large number of social connections;
they often know hundreds of different people and have the ability to serve as
connectors or bridges between different subcultures. Salespeople might be needed
who receive the 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 in transmitting
2. Message: Only messages that are both memorable and sufficiently interesting to
be passed on to others have the potential to spur a viral marketing phenomenon.
Making a message more memorable and interesting or simply more infectious, is
often not a matter of major changes but minor adjustments.
3. Environment: The environment is crucial in the rise of successful viral
marketing – small changes in the environment lead to huge results, and people are
much more sensitive to environment. The timing and context of the campaign
launch must be right.
Whereas Kaplan, Haenlein and others reduce the role of marketers to crafting the initial
viral message and seeding it, futurist and sales and marketing analyst Marc Feldman, who
conducted IMT Strategies‘ landmark viral marketing study in 2001, carves a different
role for marketers which pushes the ‗art‘ of viral marketing much closer to 'science.
Feldman points out that when marketers take a disciplined approach to viral marketing by
targeting, measuring and continually optimizing their campaigns based on campaign
metrics, viral marketing transforms the customer into a new sales channel, a new lead
generation channel and a new awareness generating channel. Feldman's innovative
reconceptualization of viral marketers went a long way towards making "viral marketing"
a strategy that sales and marketing directors at Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies
could legitimately invest in. This disciplined approach to Viral marketing that Feldman
first carved out, pointed the way towards measuring the ROI of every viral marketing
campaign and thus making a real business case for investing in viral marketing. The
customer-as-a-sales-channel approach to viral marketing went on to become the
foundation for an explosion of technology enabled viral marketing services offered
online, offline and in blended hybrid approaches.
Viral marketing often involves and utilizes:
Customer participation & polling services
Industry-specific organization contributions
Internet search engines & blogs
Mobile smartphone integration
Multiple forms of print and direct marketing
Outbound/inbound call center services
Target marketing web services
Search engine optimization (SEO) web development
Social media interconnectivity
Television & radio
VMS target marketing is based on three important principles:
1. Social profile gathering
2. Proximity market analysis
3. Real-time key word density analysis
By applying these three important disciplines to an advertising model, a VMS company is
able to match a client with their targeted customers at a cost effective advantage.
The Internet makes it possible for a campaign to go viral very fast. However, the Internet
and in particular social media technologies do not make a brand viral; they just enable
people to tell other people faster. The Internet can, so to speak, make a brand famous
Methods of Transmission
Spreading the viral message can be done in different ways.
Email. This is the most common type, when people forwards messages such as
inspirational messages, jokes, funny clips and pictures that advertises a certain
product or service.
Instant Messaging. People who receive links from friends through instant
messaging servers, like Yahoo or MSN, are more likely to check it out because of
the notion of urgency of the sender.
Web sites.Most of the articles now published online have a link that says "Send
to a friend." This is one way to make the article reach a good number of people by
just posting it in one site.
Word of mouth. Of course, this is the traditional way of passing on a message
to another person; and most of the time, the most reliable method too.
Other barriers can be the size and format of the viral message. If the content is a video
clip, its reach may be limited because of size limitations of most of the email providers.
Media format is also one thing to consider because not all recipients of the message may
have the right application to open the file.
But despite of these constraints, businesses are already getting into this style of
marketing. Indeed, this technique helps in dramatically increasing revenues by reaching a
huge number of the target market without having to spend a big chunk of money for
advertisements. Viral marketing will definitely go a long way, especially in the World
Though there are several ways on how to do this kind of advertising, there are also
barriers to it. One was already mentioned, which is the risk of the message being labeled
as "spam." Since a lot of companies now are using this method and promoting their
products through email, email providers proactively created some sort of filter in their
system to separate potential spam emails from the more trusted ones.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Viral Marketing Strategies
In the current competitive business world, every business owners look different methods
to promote their business, globally. One of the widely available, familiar and successful
marketing strategies is viral marketing. The concept behind the viral marketing is word-
of-mouth, i.e. use influencers to make peer-to-peer product recommendations. The term
viral marketing formed by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson in 1997 to explain the
exclusive referral-marketing program produced by Hotmail, one of the primary free e-
mail services. Several outsourcing companies around the world are providing viral
marketing services. The viral marketing has some disadvantages also.
There are many advantages of using viral marketing strategies such as:
1. It caters to larger audience through world wide web and emails. Viral marketing
practices which use internet as the communication media can be accessed by large
amount of people worldwide and it can be seen as an advantage over traditional
advertising media such as tv and radio advertisements.
2. It uses existing communication among friends and other associations to spread the
message. As an example if a product message is spread in Twitter using retweets
it uses the existing followers of the retwitter to spread the message.
3. It is considered to be a cost effective advertising method when compared to
traditional advertising modes. Posting a blog post or sending an email potential
customer does not cost as much cost of advertising in Television.
4. It works as a faster mode of reaching the customer.
5. Helps to build the reputation of the firm fast through increased sales and online
6. It caters to the exact target market of the product as filtering is possible when
using online means. As an example, if a company wishes to introduce a product
for teenagers living in New York ans wishes to advertise on Facebook, it
ispossible for the firm to access basic information of the user and filter the target
7. Tools used in viral marketing can be set up with less effort. Composing an email
message or a blog post does not require much of effort when compared to making
a TV commercial or bill board campaign.
8. Customizing the message based on user preference and local interest is also
possible in viral marketing through data mining techniques.
There can be disadvantages of using viral marketing such as:
1. Issue of SPAMS- Viral marketing uses means such as emails and commenting on
blogs and forums. When the viral marketing in done in a large scale it becomes
annoying for the email receiver to receive large amount of emails in their inbox
and they are made filtered as spam messages.
2. Viral marketing talks about only spreading the message to potential consumers
through online means but spreading the message is not does not benefit the firm.
Sale has occurred at the end for the firm to benefit but the amount of actual sales
made apart from promotions is questionable under viral marketing.
3. Results directly attributable to viral marketing is unquantifiable as companies use
other marketing techniques and purchase motivation of the consumer depends on
the consumer black box, not based on viral marketing.
4. It very hard to make the people to spread the message by emails and other means
as people are more concentrated about their personal work rather than doing
marketing for business organizations.
5. Continuous effort in viral marketing can cause the product message reaching out
of target audience which will result in brand dilution by sales occurring at non-
6. Viral marketing focuses more on short term success rather than building
differentiation to gain long term advantages.
7. It can be easily imitated by competitors as anyone on internet can launch
marketing campaigns easily.
8. Negative publicity is possible at the same speed of positive publicity or even
higher speed than that.
ObjectivesOf Viral Marketing
Advertising Procedure which Offers Long-term Positive Results
Viral marketing is a cost-effective promotion method, which helps to reach out to your
targeted audience within a short time. This technique enables delivery of your marketing
messages in a simple and easy manner.
Through viral advertising, it is possible to build a lasting influence on the minds of the
users. As a contributing tool to achieve your business objectives, a lot of creativity,
careful planning and implementation are required. It is an advertising procedure which
skillfully utilizes certain websites, emails and instant messaging systems. Besides these,
games, video clippings, file sharing methods, images, and other means are used.
Enhance Company’s Turnover through Organized Business Websites
By means of viral promotion techniques, you can create brand awareness among the
users. Through these, more and more visitors will be attracted to your business website.
At a later stage, these visitors will be converted into customers of your products and
services. Thus you are able to fulfill your main business objective – namely, enhancing
the sales and turnover.
For achieving your specific business goals through viral marketing it is important to have
a well organized and attractive website. Therefore it is essential to hire the services of
professional viral online marketing service providers. To effectively handle your
advertising requirements, many of these companies have a panel of experts who have
deep knowledge in the social media marketing arena. The major services offered by these
firms include the following:
• Viral advertising consulting
• Planning and design of viral campaigns
• Development and management of viral contents
• E-mail promotion
• Blog marketing
• Promotion through forums
• Submission of press releases
• Promotion of articles
• Viral email campaigns
• Analytics tracking and reporting
Based on your unique business requirements and budget, choose the right service
provider who can offer reliable and budget friendly viral marketing services.
With the wide popularity of the Internet, the online business world is getting more and
more competitive. To survive amidst the competition, it is necessary to make use of
competent marketing methods.
Example of Viral Marketing
The best viral marketing campaigns (when a marketer intends to make something viral)
are one of those things that we have to see to recognize, so here are a few of favorite viral
When Hotmail launched, much of its early success was due to the virality of the sigline
that it attached to every outgoing email inviting the recipient to join. One of the earliest
examples of viral marketing on the internet.
One of my favorite viral marketing examples on this list, the creepy webcam site made
for a Burger King campaign allowed people to control a guy in a chicken suit. It went
viral almost instantly and for a few weeks was everywhere.
Will it blend
One of the most recent best viral marketing campaign examples, Blendtec‘s will it blend
video series shows scientists testing if various household items will blend in their super-
powerful blender. This campaign leveraged the popularity of online video sharing sites.
One Red Paperclip
This was a blog where the author started with a single red paperclip and traded his way
up to a house, documenting his steps along the way.
Million Dollar Homepage
Perhaps the most famous viral marketing ―why didn‘t I think of that‖ example, this site
sold pixels on its homepage and eventually made over a million dollars.
Simpson size Yourself
Created for the Simpsons movie, this site allowed visitors to create an avatar of them as a
character from the cartoon.
Another wacky scientist schtick, these guys got famous by making art out of the
explosions caused by mixing diet coke and mentos. Mentos handled it beautifully, Coke
Dove Evolution Video
Part of a campaign by Dove, this video showed how models‘ beauty is often artificial,
and really struck a chord with its intended audience of female viewers.
A beverage company created this video as a parody of rap videos and used preppy white
YouTube Embedable Videos
YouTube‘s meteoric rise is due in large part to the embeddable videos the company
introduced, allowing bloggers to put videos directly into posts.
This fake reality show featured an aspiring actress, playing strange storyline. It generated
lots of views and eventually the creators were unmasked.
Bob Dylan Facebook App
This application allows users to make their own version of Dylan‘s Subterranean
Homesick Blues video. This is a viral marketing campaign example consisting entirely of
―brand‖ interaction for the purpose of entertainment.
Why Viral Marketing Works
Viral marketing is a phenomenon. It works and works well. Why? Because it puts the
power in the hands of thepeople. It doesn‘t rely on advertising executives, million dollar
campaigns or celebrity endorsements. It is real,down-to-earth, grassroots marketing that,
when it comes down to it, might be advertising in its purest form.
Viral marketing, while driven by strategy and well-planned messaging, is only successful
when its audience iscaptivated. A marketing campaign will only go ―viral‖ if people like
it and ultimately, share it with others.Therefore, they have the power. Not the marketer.
Online business owners and internet marketers alike understand the important role viral
marketing plays in thesuccess of their businesses today. Social media networks have
become just as much about business as they areabout pleasure. Facebook, Twitter,
LinkedIn, YouTube and other key players are now joining us in the boardroomand in
sales meetings. Blogs are replacing news media in many ways, and we must adapt our
marketing approachto become players in this game.
From reaching the masses with special deals, invitations for sale events and enticing
customers to purchase newproducts, viral marketing is a lucrative business tool, approach
and strategy all wrapped in to one.
Say, for example, you are an internet marketer. You create and sell valuable sales tools,
including E-books,reports, videos and webinars. Not only should you have a list to which
you apply your email marketing campaign,but in addition, you can share your products
by posting them on Facebook, tweeting about them on Twitter oruploading lessons to
YouTube. The possibilities are endless.
With a little bit of creativity and a true understanding of your target market, viral
marketing has the ability toskyrocket your business to new heights. Not only should you
consider the favor of your current customer base,but approach your viral marketing
campaign in such a way that encourages – and makes them want to – shareyour business
with others. You could offer free products for every ten people your customers share your
linkwith. The more you entice people to pass it on, the more likely people are to share
Think about it, if you were your own customer, what would entice you to share your
products? Would it bequality customer service? Great deals and monthly specials? What
grabs your attention? Start there and seewhat works. The other great thing about viral
marketing is, if one approach isn‘t working, you lose nothing byswitching gears. Just be
careful to settle in to a consistent message, no matter what your approach might be.
You don‘t want to run the risk of turning people off.
So, engage in your viral marketing campaign. Be social on social networks, share others
information and they inturn, will share yours. Viral marketing is a give and take and the
more you give, the more you will get. There is anunspoken set of expectations that
accompany viral marketing, and the most important of all is to respect thoseyou are
marketing to. If you do, they will recognize that and most likely help you on your way to
The aim of the research is to provide a comparison of the perspectives of avariety of
professionals to what is written in the academic literature and to see theextent, if any, that
practice is divergent from theory. For this reason I employed aqualitative research
method, consisting of Internet based interviews, because thisallowed me to get up close
to people‘s opinion. According to the interpretivescholars, in order to understand how
professionals and practitioners perceive viralmarketing, I had to actively be engaged in
the field (Daymon and Holloway 2002).
To realize this engagement I undertook my research through an online
professionalnetwork, LinkedIn.com. The method enabled me to conceptualize viral
marketingfrom the point of view of those who are involved in it through their work,
studies orprofessional experiences.
Qualitative research seems to be the appropriate way to understand the worldof lived in
experience of those who were willing to share with me their thought aboutthe topic and
question of interest. It made it possible to depict the differentperspectives of viral
marketing and seek to understand of the concept.
Despite the known disadvantages of qualitative research – subjectivity, problems of
generalization, lack of transparency in sampling and procedures,difficult to replicate etc.
(Hoyle, Harris, and Judd 2002) – an online form of interviewingpractitioners proved
The original idea -conduct online focus groups
The original idea was to create a ―virtual focus group‖ exploiting theopportunity of an
international online social network, LinkedIn.com. LinkedIn.comwas chosen as research
venue because it allowed me to contact many communicationand marketing professionals
from all over the world and from different firms andenvironments. In particular, I took
advantage of the Question Answer section ofLinkedIn.com. This is an option of each
participant of the network, which allowsevery user to post questions and/or contribute to
comments by others with his/heranswer.
Focus groups – both conventional and online – are a form of in-depthinterviewing. The
purpose of a focus group is never to examine a wide range oftopics in one study but to
concentrate on one or two concept or objects and discussthem more in detail (Hoyle,
Harris and Judd 2002). Typical character of focus groupsis the group dynamism, which
can be generated by the group setting for itself,providing evidences from many voices on
the same topic.
It should be noted that virtual focus group is a variation or specific format ofthe
traditional focus group interview. This new form of focus group research hasbecome
more prominent in recent years and has been especially applied to researchin e-
marketing, to consumer goods industry to collect consumer feedback in earlystages of
product development and to explore lived experiences of pharmaceuticaltreatments
(Sweet, 2001). The group discussion takes place in a virtual forum, forinstance in a chat
room, rather than in a traditional room. Some companies, for security reasons, create a
micro site for the online group discussions, which isaccessible only by a selection of
There are two types of online focus groups: synchronous or real time andasynchronous.
In the real time form, six to eight participants respond simultaneouslyin a chat room or
forum, while in the asynchronous focus group users can access abulletin board or a
virtual platform where questions are posted. This research isbased on the second solution
for two main reasons: 1. I did not have the time andresources to create a separate forum,
which can be accessed with a password only bya limited number of participants. This
choice would have required being in the role ofmoderator and facilitator. 2. Having
chosen the asynchronous method all participantsmeant having sufficient time to reflect on
the topics proposed and then participates inthe discussion, including eventually also
reflections to answers posted by other usersof LinkedIn. The asynchronous method
allowed me also to reach a huge variety ofpeople from all over the world, since users of
LinkedIn could answer from theirdesired location and at the time which is most
convenient for them.
Topic, venue and purpose of the research
According to the definition mentioned above, the specific topic was viralmarketing; the
platform of the interviews was an online international professionalnetwork,
LinkedIn.com. The purpose of the focus group was to elicit a ―definition‖of viral
marketing based on the e-users‘ perspective of the phenomenon.
Advantages versus disadvantages of online focus groups
Conducting qualitative research online is not new. The electronic revolutionand the
evolution of the digital world have just favored the use of online focusgroups. Online
qualitative studies are used to evaluate on- and offline advertisings, tocritique and test
concepts, ideas, products, visuals and the possibility to continue thelist is almost never-
ending. The attraction of cyberspace lies in its versatility as a research forum allowing to
involve people independently from their geographiclocation (Sweet 2001, O‘Connor and
Madge 2003). Moreover Internet permitsresearchers to interface with delicate questions
for those otherwise it would bedifficult to reach answers via conventional research
approaches – such as a face tofaceinterview (DiMaggio et al. 2001). Virtual settings
decrease the fear of users andanonymity let often them say what they exactly think (Jones
1995, Curtis P. et al.2005). Speed also remains one of the biggest selling point of
conducting Internetbased discussions, while traditional approaches would require months
or more, anonline market research literally can be carried out in one or two weeks
depending onthe objectives and complexity of the study.
As a first step, short letters - with a recall and invitation to participate to thethesis
research - were sent out to those who answered to the first question in August2007. After
this an official invitation was prepared targeting two groups of people:one invitation
approached those who already belonged to my network on LinkedIn,the other invitation
had the aim of inviting persons to sign in to LinkedIn.com andparticipate or invite
LinkedIn users to link up with me and have a look at thequestions posted regarding viral
Different facts weakened the success of the research that ended up with lowreturn rate of
the invitations sent. Once, given that invitation were sent out in aholiday period, I was not
able to create a concrete group of people with eight totwelve participants for the starting
date of the research. Second, timing was a crucialconstrain having a limited period of
time to carry out the discussions and concludethe research phase. Third, I encountered
difficulties in getting back the invitationswith demographics (data collecting information
about age, gender, and occupation etc. ofthe respondents) mainly from those members of
my network who I do not knowpersonally. In the light of these considerations, it should
be noted that the mainchallenges encountered in this project included the hurdle of
engaging allparticipants not just in a discussion but also having their official agreement
topublish their comments, and the length of time over which the focus groups tookplace.
The challenges that were faced in both the preparation and the processingphase for the
focus groups can help provide suggestions for future application of avirtual focus group
and can help develop better steps to improve the methodology inpreparing the online
venue. Consequences are treated under Limitations of the study.
From of the literature review, all in all seven questions were elaborated inorder to
generate discussions and view points‘ sharing on the network. The firstquestion, as it has
been mentioned, was posted in August 2007. The last six questionsappeared on the
Question Answer section of LinkedIn during a ten days period.
After the post of the last questions I left them open for ten days. The questions inorder of
1. Viral Marketing is very vaguely defined. What is the definition of yourconcept?
2. Some marketing gurus are saying Viral Marketing is nothing but juststimulating word-
of-mouth in social networks. What do you think about thisassumption?
3. A lot of people argue that Web 2.0. Has changed the perception of onlinemarketing
techniques. What do you think about this?
4. In your opinion what is/are the most relevant component/s of ViralMarketing?
5. Do you think it is possible to plan word-of–mouth?
6. Can the effect of a viral campaign be measured?
7. Do you use the term: Viral Marketing?
A. If not, why?
B. If yes, in which context?
When a user places a question on LinkedIn, he or she has the option to send thequestion
only to selected members from his/her direct connection. If the recruitmentof constituents
for the virtual focus group were more successful, I would have optedfor this solution.
Instead I decided to leave open the question to everyone and applythe research method as
Internet based discussion. This means that about 1,430,000people could see questions
inserted on the platform from many countries of theworld.
Fifty-two members decided to share their opinion with me and other membersof the
network. At that point of the research we can speak about Internet baseddiscussions
rather than virtual focus group. In order to satisfy the methodologyrigor, basic
demographic data has been collected in order to give a generalstatistical description of
the participants in the discussions. This request attracted aquite satisfactory return rate:
twenty-four participants sent back their data, whichimplies the 46% of the total number
Analysis and Interpretation
The first step of the raise of the primary data is the interview. The interview allows
supporting and answering objectives of the research in a qualitative way through a
professional opinion and point of view. The goal is to find what are the benefits and
potential risks of a viral campaign. Also, identify the companies‘ objectives through viral
campaigns. Moreover, at term, understand the trend of viral campaign compare to
―normal‖ way of communication. These are parts of the research objectives.
The person interviewed is Renée Bani, the Buzz Marketing Manager and the Community
Manager of N°10, an advertising Agency based in the capital of Switzerland, Bern. N°10
is a Branding, Communication Buzz, Viral and Social Media Agency, providing services
that the customer need in term of communication.
The interview has been conducting by e-mail. It was the best choice for the questionnaire
because MsBani lives in Switzerland and the communication is easier by e-mail. First
asked in a French language, the interview has been translating into English.
This is the Diary of the correspondence with Renée Bani.
DATA ANALYSIS: THE INTERVIEW
Viral campaign versus “normal” campaign
The new trends depend of the evolution of the society and viral campaign ride on the new
consumer trends. Moreover, classical communications have less impact on the consumer
because the consumer now is aware of the ads‘ goal. Now in order to purchase a product,
people asks their pairs or friends to have an objective opinion and not an opinion given
by the brand that is obviously subjective. Moreover, the gain of popularity is stronger
than with a ―normal‖ campaign.
Companies can have a new positioning and another brand image by using viral
communication. Indeed, by using viral process, the Company could position itself as an
innovative competitor. Because internet is the future of the Company, use viral before
competitors is a real competitive advantage and a way to give a sympathetic image.
Companies can also create a link with the consumer by providing new experience and
make him laugh.
The actors of a viral campaign
To start a buzz now, advertisers need people that are influential in the web.
First, the bloggers become incontrovertible in the viral process because
- They influence many people because more and more people read them.
-They have an expertise in a particular field that allows them a huge credibility.
- The journalists often read blogs and could enhance media fallout.
Secondly, there are now some lambda persons, which take part in the viral process. They
have some influence and have a huge network of contacts. We call them the ―buzz
makers‖. They are very interesting because they are people talking to other people with
objective opinions. Moreover, because the buzz makershas a huge network, his credibility
is always increasing.
Thirdly, the social networks are incontrovertible in order to go viral. Before social
networks, consumers shared the information in an old way, face to face, with pairs. Now
Facebook or twitter makes the consumer enter in the instantly sharing. It is aworld of fast
sharing in a very simple way because one click is enough. Moreover, the social networks
allow advertisers to be in contact with more people. This is a new dimension given to the
buzz; the word is spread instantly and faster than ever.
Finally, the consumer is one of the main parts of the viral process. Nevertheless, to share a
viral idea, people must desire to share it. That is why advertisers have focus on key tools.
The key success factors of a viral campaign
There is no miracle recipe but some tools are using in order to reach the consumer feeling.
Moreover, many of these tools are used by many brands. The information are raised in the
board below.But advertisers need also more resources and purchase media space on
webpage with high flow of audience.
Funny or quirky Skittles
Bounced on news T-Mobile royal wedding
Innovative process Tipex on Youtube
Be cute Evian with the roller babies
Use the personalization Old spice videos
Use the fake Web user do that
Table 1: The key success factors of a good campaign for different brands
CONCLUSION OF THE QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS
Thanks to the interview, the research highlights many points about the key success
factors of a good viral campaign and the way the Companies use viral marketing for their
communication. The viral and web campaign become more and more extensivedue to a
lack of trust in TV, radio or newspaper advertisement. People ask now to their pairs for
the purchase of a good. They depend and turn on the opinion leaders like bloggers or
buzz makers whose have credibility in the eyes of consumers.
Moreover, some tools are used in order to reach the consumers‘ feeling for keeping his
attention. Make him laugh, use the news, be innovative, the stars, the babies for example;
make always a campaign works. Advertisers have the use of ingeniousness to be more
innovative in the viral process and so, be the most competitive Company in the market.
In order to collect the quantitative data, a survey has been conducting. The survey support
the elements finding in the Interview conducted previously. The aim of the survey is to
understand the consumer behavior face to viral and buzz campaigns. The consumer is a
key point of the process because he is the starting point and the network of viral
campaigns. Indeed, in order to know and understand the key success factors of a good
viral campaign, we need to know what the consumer expects in term of communication,
with whom and from where does he take the information. Therefore, we can determine
what is effective or not in term of viral communication. Thanks to that, the research will
highlight the key point to focus on.
The population is a group of 50 people.
The population chosen in this study is people who belong to the generation Y. Indeed
people have between 18 and 26 years old and are all from the Dublin Business School.
The population rate in this study is 50 people. For a total parity, there are 25 men and 25
women that have been questioning for the study.
The questionnaire has been giving during lunchtime on Tuesday the 17 and Wednesday
18 May 2011 in the common room of the DBS (Castle House) on the 4th floor at the
address South Great Georges Street Dublin 2. The process took 1h per session.
The sample was not disturbed and did not talk with each other during the process.
On 50 persons questioned, there are 50 responses so it is a complete success. This rate is
also high considering the ration of 100% answers.
There are no unanswered or answered wrong questions. People all follows the indication
written at the beginning ―Just tick one answer per question‖. In addition, when people
had some questions, I was here to answer.
Limitations to the research
The process chosen is a limitation in term of data collection. The survey was
administered and delivered by hand to each respondent. Therefore, it was a long process
of data collecting when all questionnaires were done.
Secondly, the data collection has been made on Ethnos. Ethnos is a complete professional
survey software, allowing the user to design and analyze easily all types of
questionnaires. The data on Ethnos was complicated due to a lack of knowledge in term
of survey software.
The entire questionnaire is based on the Interview conducted before. All the questions are
related to the information given by Renée Bani.
Viral marketing is a catchy expression always getting more attention. There area lot of
interests in viral marketing (Devin 2006). Sometimes it is used as equivalentto word of
mouth, buzz marketing, guerrilla marketing (Carl 2006). Where does theconcept come
from? Is it a buzzword or a new fancy expression for today‘smarketers? This chapter
looking for the answers is structured in two main sections.
First, a discussion follows about the main trends and circumstances occurredin the
marketing communication landscape, which make us possible to speak about viral
marketing. This introductory part will focus on two maindomains that have changed
significantly the way marketers approach customers:
1)Social networks and virtual communities
2) Customers‘ relation to the Internet.
Thisthesis retains that these two factors have significantly influenced marketers
todevelop new communication strategies. Three concepts will be emphasized: theconcept
of Web 2.0, new online tools and the diffusion of online blogs.
Secondly, the overview of literature strictly related to viral marketing andtheoretical
framework are presented thereby provide a more comprehensiveunderstanding of how the
various themes studied come together and it facilitates thepreparation of an Internet based
discussions on the topic.
Virtual Communities and Social Networking
The rise of virtual communities in on-line social networks has set in motionan
unprecedented shift in power from vendors of services and goods to customerswho buy
them. Viral marketing can exploit existing social networks by encouraging customers to
share product information with their friends. Therefore the revelation ofsuch social
networks is vital both for businesses and for advertising agencies, whichmay use these
networks in order to convey more effectively a firm‘s messages.
Yet most of today‘s advertising agencies employ marketing which stillfocuses on how to
use advertising to influence costumers individually in their homesitting in front of the
TV. Rosen (2000) claims in his book – The Anatomy of Buzz –that purchasing is a social
process that couldn‘t be neglected by nowadays‘marketers. Rosen quotes Len Short,
executive vice president of advertising and brandmanagement at Charles Schwab: ―The
idea that a critical part of marketing is word ofmouth and validation from important
personal relationship is absolutely key, andmost managers ignore it.‖ To make the best
use of viral marketing techniques – bothonline and offline – it is crucial to understand
and consider that products and servicesspread among the consumer public through
interpersonal communication networks.Hegel and Armstrong (1997) approaching the
dynamism of virtualcommunities from the e-commerce point of view, emphasize their
attractiveness andhow they add value to vendors-consumers dynamics. From the
economic point ofview, online communities are not only channels for shifting power
from vendor tocustomer, but also it is a good tool in the hand of a community organizer
for creatingwealth. The fuel for an opportunity to growth and for value creation is given
by itsbeing ―virtual‖ (Hegel and Armstrong 1997). According to the authors
―…commercial success in the on-line arena will belong to those who organize
virtualcommunities to meet multiple social and commercial needs. By creating
strongvirtual communities, business will be able to build membership audiences and
usethese audiences to bring in revenues in the form of advertising, transaction fees
andmembership fees‖ (idem p.5). Now, at the beginning of 2008 we know they
wereright. The revenue based prosperity of online connectivity is confirmed by
aprofessor of Operation and Information Management at The Wharton School, Eric
K.Clemons (2005) who states: ―As we learned from the first dot-com silliness, value
isnot in click-through or eyeballs. Value comes from revenues… Can you
sellsubscriptions to your data or your service? Can you charge for referrals or
forpurchases that result from referrals? Can you sell stuff? If not, your revenue is zeroand
your market value is zero.‖3
The concept of virtual communities basing on social networks is not new. Yetin 1974 it
has been mentioned and described in terms of how invisible communitiesof consumption
evolve (Boors tin, 1974 cited by Dwyer 2002 p. 64). A number ofarticles can be found
depicting the impact of social networks and virtualcommunities on marketing approaches
(e.g. Addis and Holbrook, 2001; Muniz andO‘Guinn, 2001). In the online context there
are also studies recognizing consumergroups as virtual communities (de Moor 2007;
Kwai Fun Ip and Wagner 2007;Adamic and Adar 2003; Holme et al. 2004). For an
Internet based marketing strategythe presence of chat rooms, blogs, virtual brand
communities and message boardscan be relevant. We often speak about marketing that is
―viral‖ where the messagewas seeded in a virtual community and spread extremely fast
under the influence ofelectronic word-of-mouth or the so called word-of-mouse. Since it
is generated byconsumers themselves there is more trust in the message, which is one of
the biggestadvantages of some viral marketing techniques.
In general, what makes compelling viral marketing techniques based ononline social
networks and definitely distinguishes them from conventionalinterpersonal interactions is
the ability to influence a large number of individuals. Tomake a single influence attempt
it is required less effort; at the same timeinformation technologies augment the flexibility
to deploy a variety of influencestrategies (Brown, Broderick and Lee 2007; Arbor 2007).
To illustrate this with anexample, we consider one of the best-known social online
communities on the web:
Facebook.com. The platform is generally used by young adult users who are theprimary
trend drivers in the society. Facebook.com takes into account the marketingpotential of
the presence of such variables as social class, and offers relevant andintegrated
advertising opportunities to engage the tech-savvy youth audience.
Empowered customers in the Web 2.0
What role does Web 2.0 play in people‘s lives today, and how might the
consumerexperience change in the years ahead? This section tries to identify the answer
to thisquestion considering different existing definitions of web 2.0, from articles
inpopular press to blogs and forums.
What does Web 2.0 really mean? The term analog to software developmentswhere
increasing numbers are added to their names, can falsely imply a new versionof the
World Wide Web. However, when Tim O‘Reilly, founder and CEO ofO‘Reilly Media
Inc., come out with the expression with his web pioneers at abrainstorming session
between O‘Reilly and Media Live International, simplyreferred to an evolution of the use
of the web. They identified a turning point of theweb which was lead only partially by
new technologies and applications.Alongcome the media who grasped the expression and
spread it fast as new marketingbuzzword ―with no real understanding of just what it
means‖5. O‘Reilly claims thatthe hurdle is continuing since many ―buzzword-addicted
startups are definitely Web 2.0, while some of the applications we identified as Web 2.0,
like Napster andBit Torrent, are not even properly web applications!‖ The following
figure (Figure 2.)represents the meme map of the concept worked out in 2005 by the team
Such visualization of the phenomenon shows the ideas captured at the
brainstormingsession around the core concept of Web 2.0, expressing it is being without
Online viral marketing is the missing link between top-down and
bottom-up brand marketing approaches
New tools open a new phase on the web
There are also some interesting scenarios for the future of viral marketinglinked to a new,
third phase of the web. With the arrival of widgets that consist ofbits of code some
authors envisage a new revolutionary phase in the Internet‘s development. (Ante et al.
2007). Authors are claiming that the future big deal forcompanies from media,
publishing, technology, entertainment and communication isto tap into the use of these
Widgets ―are tiny, highlighted lines of text or nondescript boxes runningalong the edge of
the page‖ (Ante et al. 2007) In a more prosaic language they aresmall applications which
can be embedded within a web page. Originally they wereplug-ins or extensions that
allowed desktop applications to access the web. Widgetsare used by bloggers, social
network users, auction sites and owners of personal websites providing news, helping
users buy products, telling information about favoritelyrics, cinema or brands within an
online users‘ network. Hence their power relies inbringing information to users instead of
making them visit a website. On top of thesefeatures it is notable their simplicity to use,
which represents a further attraction.
The authors stress the opportunities to be exploited via widgets and depicthow they can
be embedded into brand building, e-commerce and entertainmentpurposes. Widgets fit
well in the shifts taking place in advertising. Customers aredemanding and looking for
more than information. Widget is an application used foradvertising purposes, which
basically makes possible the creation of involvementand unconventional purchasing
experience. In some respect its aim is similar to whathas been discussed about flash
games or advergames.
A common example of the use of widgets is represented by Reebok‘swebsite, which is
using it to embed consumers‘ virtual sneakers, according to theirpreferences and needs.
At the end of the ―creation process‖ customers can processdirectly with the purchasing.
From monologue to dialog – the power of blogs in disseminating
Viral marketing is often associated with e-mail marketing including the ―tells a friend‖
options. However, one of the most potent forums for marketers to buildcustomer
relationships, expose products, that can take the pulse of consumer trends are weblogs
(Dearstyne 2005). Like the concept of viral marketing, the definition ofblogs is not
unsettled. Dearstyne (2005) in his article collected some of the mostrelevant definitions
of weblogs. According to this, Microsoft sees blogs as meansthat dramatically help both
small and large companies to communicate their productmessages. In the same article
Accenture defines weblogs as interactive websitesallowing the owners to publish ideas
and information and create conversationspanning time zones and continents (Dearstyne
2005). The Weblogs, or blogs,mostly have been defined as online journals or diaries,
published chronologically,with links to and commentary on various issues of interest.
The number of onlineblogs has grown exponentially in the last decade - just the site
Technorati.comtracks 112.8 million of them with over 250 million pieces of tagged social
Blogs are omnipresent on the web, thanks also to their easy creation and to theinfinite
themes and reasons to publish them (Marken 2005).
The role of blogs is essential in peer-to-peer communication; therefore it is abasic venue
to spread messages, thoughts and opinions in the online context (Bloom2005; Lyons and
Henderson 2005). Technocrati.com claims that ―Blogs are powerfulbecause they allow
millions of people to easily publish and share their ideas, andmillions more to read and
respond. They engage the writer and reader in an openconversation, and are shifting the
Internet paradigm as we know it.‖
The earliest blog dated to the late 1990s, but the power of a diary formnarration dates
back from more than three Centuries. Paul Marsden (2000) in his
PhD discussion argues about the prospective of media representations of suicide
thatcould have some influence on a person‘s suicidality. In the mirror of the 18th Century
German writer‘s novel, Marsden calls the contagious media effect ―Werther Effect‖:
If blogs offer engaging and relevant content they can be a powerful tools inmarketers
hand in promoting product and services or communicating with potentialcustomers.
Blogging is a crucial stage of information sharing on the Internet. Theyhave become so
popular because they are inexpensive or the software for bloggingcan be settled up at a
very convenient fee, and they are easy to set up and maintain.
At the same time weblogs are the main venue in the Internet sphere to fosterknowledge
sharing and productivity
FINDINGS AND INFERENCES
Every day we are exposed to thousand of advertising information, which includes
many types of marketing communications: lots of printed ads being readersof
some magazines and newspapers, free brochures received every week, television
commercials, ads in the radio while we are driving between our workplace
andhome, billboards on the roads and buildings, billboards on the subway, bus
and tram, printed ads in the ski-lift. Through our online connections we receive
advertising in different forms: spams, pop-ups, banners, direct e-mails,
newsletters. How many of them we dedicate time and energy to read, watch and
hear not mentioning to consider them? How many of these techniques have
already lost its credibility because of the way they reach us? What are the most
reliable sources of recommendations of today? Has something changed from the
old times in the marketplace?
Similarly to our forefathers from centuries we like to share information with each
other. Once upon a time consumers had a good experience with a marketer orhis
product, they would tell their neighborhoods, parents and friends, who would
often buy and use that product and then tell it to others – dispersing information
and recommendations about somebody (producer, supplier, marketer) or
(Product, animal, slave) via a social network. We behave in the same way in the
today‘s marketplace, as well. The phenomenon of passing the word – word of
mouth – has been considered for many times as the unique reliable source of
This seems to be remained constant. Word of mouth rather considered as the most
powerful way not just to make the purchase decision easier but to help to make it
It is supposed that this old power – the power of word of mouth - relies on the
bottom of a marketing technique called viral marketing. The pronounced word
about a product or service expressed in the right context appears to have the
characteristics of a virus. One manifestation in the right ambient starts to self-
propagate itself with such speed that thousands of people will become informed
about the message. What mechanisms need to be happened until the purchasing is
the objective of another thesis? This study aims at discovering the real features
and perspectives of viral marketing through and exploratory research inan Internet
based social and professional community.
What does a virus have to do with marketing? Viral marketing describes any
strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others,
creating the potential for exponential growth in the message's exposure and
influence. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to
explode the message to thousands, to millions.
We have all received e-mails from friends or familymembers telling us about a
new product, service, or freeproduct offering. Many of us have forwarded those
pro-motions, or information professing the virtues of theproduct or service. If
marketers can encourage membersto spread the information or news of their
product orservice to others, it creates a potential for exponentialgrowth in the
message‘s exposure and influence.
Viral began as an e-commerce and marketing strategy touse the Internet to
promote a product or service. It nowdescribes any strategy that encourages
individuals to passalong a marketing message to others. The purpose of thispaper
is to address some of the advantages, disadvantagesand some of the ethical issues
concerning viral market-ing.
Word-of-mouth publicity is a centuries-old marketingtechnique. Once consumers
had a good experience witha product, they would tell their friends, who would
oftenbuy and use that product and then tell their friends, whowould often buy and
use the product and then tell otherfriends via this social network
Strategies used by viral marketers vary, but most allutilize a give-away or free
item or service. This freeconcept allows the viral marketer to successfully
capturethe attention of the public. The public is willing to givetheir e-mail address
to viral marketers if they think theyare getting something for free.
Another viral marketing strategy is the exploitation ofhuman motivation and
behaviors. Good viral marketers,like any other excellent marketer, must have an
under-standing of what the customer needs and wants. Additionally, they
understand the power of human networks.Viral marketing strategies attempt to
harness the powerof trusted recommendations of friends and colleagues.
The viral message can spread either intentionally orunintentionally. When
consumers find a good or servicecompelling, they spread the news intentionally
when theycommunicate to others.
You may not be bought out by Microsoft because of a clever viral marketing
strategy, but this shouldn‘t stop you from taking advantage of the viral marketing
phenomenon. This paper explains how you can implement a very inexpensive
viral marketing strategy in your online business using articles.
Article viral marketing has a number of benefits that can quickly turn an average
online business into a thriving one. Articles not only create a viral marketing
strategy, they also increase a website‘s Google ranking on keyword searches.
Many small businesses starting out have small advertising budgets, and for some
advertising is the biggest obstacle to overcome. There‘s no better advertising than
Conclusion and Recommendation
In the literature, viral marketing describes strategies that encourage people to pass a
marketing message to others in order to create an exponential growth in the message
given by the advertiser. This process is based on the basic principle of word-of-mouth,
transposed to the web. Word of mouth allows some Companies to become very powerful
thanks to the consumers and their supporting acts on the web.
Websites give the opportunity to spread the word faster than ever by using the rights tools
at the right moment through the right persons.
The growth of social networks and blogs in the five past years has provided ideals
platforms of communication for advertisers and marketers. These new communities of
web users now, share and spread the word to the other members; the key word is also
―interactivity‖. People want to interact with others, give opinions, share the experience
and ask others before buying. That is the principle of the viral phenomenon.
Marketers also try to find other way to communicate in order to be more and more
innovative for keeping the consumers‘ attention. That is why the new trend is in the
visual impact and effect of the communication. The flash mobs‘ video of T-Mobile is the
perfect example of the visual impact on the brand for sharing. The ad was entertaining,
innovative and funny, three key success factors of a good campaign.
Nevertheless, marketers have to be careful about viral campaign; because sometimes it
could trigger disasters on the web, which carry away a bad brand image and could cause
the ruin of a brand. That is the viral risk for some bad buzz like Nestlé for Kitkat.
The research problem is base on the way that companies conduct viral campaign for their
communication but also understand the key point we have to focus on in order to conduct
a good viral campaign. All is about understanding why is this new communication
working so much in the current society.
Two of the objectives were to interview a buzz marketing manager and conduct a survey
that supports the elements finding in the interview. The interview gave another dimension
to the study because Renée Bäni is in the trend of the Viral concept, she knows what
works or not and highlights the followings points that was the objectives of the study.
The survey was a support in order to understand the consumer behavior face to viral
campaigns. Therefore, the objectives given answered the current viral concept questions.
To show benefits and potential risks of a viral Campaign.
The strategy marketing through Viral Marketing uses various tools on internet platform in
order to generate word of mouth for a product or a service. The benefits of a viral
campaign are huge for the Company in term of brand awareness, brand image and for
economics and Medias fallout. The strength of this new communication lies in the fact
that consumers spread the word fast and the message goes viral like a virus. People on
social networks and blogs are more willing to share the information with their friends or
their family. Indeed consumers are actors in a good viral campaign but there are other
actors involved in the process.
Bloggers, for examples are opinion leaders and have credibility toward consumers. They
have an economic impact on a product or a service because they have credibility for the
purchase process of the consumer. The strength of viral campaign lies, in the other hand,
in the fact that everything goes instantly by one click. The effort is really reduce at the
minimum and sharing information is easier and faster than ever.
However, a viral communication can destroy a Company or a man reputation. We can
take for example the case ―Dominique Strauss-Kahn‖ that became the more relevant new
badbuzz for a politician or the fight between Nestlé and green peace that was a huge bad
buzz fur the Nestlé Company.
To indentify Companies objectives through viral Campaigns, and to know why
Companies use viral and buzz campaigns compare to “normal” Campaigns.
The Companies‘ objectives are manifold and Companies use viral campaign for many
Companies are always in the innovation in term of communication and they always
want to be the most competitive one in the market. An innovative company gives an
image of dynamism in phase with the trend.
The habits of consumption evolve with the trends and now consumers wants to be
more involve in the buying process. They ask to others, want to experience, and
wants evidence and more objectivity for a product or a service. By using viral or buzz
campaigns, Companies can show the values and the culture that they belong. Because
people do not trust anymore the traditional campaigns and prefer ask to their pairs,
viral is the most objective way to transmit a strong message.
Use viral campaign compare to normal campaign allows the Companies to get
directly the feedbacks of the consumers on blogs or social networks and give the
opportunity for the consumer to express himself about the product or the service. The
consumer is satisfied about the attention paid, and the Company has instantly
feedbacks from the customers and sees what is wrong or not.
Compare to ―normal campaign‖, viral generate word-of-mouth that means a huge
network, more influence and more brand awareness. But there is also an economic
goal; go viral on web cost less than a traditional campaign and could enhance the
To indentify the success key factors of a buzz campaign.
Actually, there is no specific answer in term of key success factors for a good campaign.
All is about the trends and the Company expectations. However, the study highlights
some tools that always work:
Be funny and quirky. The Company has to differentiate by reaching the
consumers‘ feelings. By using humor, advertisers and marketers are sure to make
a buzz. Humor is a universal language that marketers understand that fast.
Be innovative. The ad can be innovative in many ways. By the method it was
registered like 3D images or HD the ad can give the wow effect. However,
innovation can also be used by the way of communicate. There is no matter to
show the product and give all the characteristics, since many years, flashmobs and
freezes were a virus all around the planet.
Comply with the trends and the consumers‘ expectation. Because the consumer is
in the heart of the word-of-mouth process, the consumer is directly tie to the
success of the campaign.
Viral marketing has much strength as describe before, and some Companies faced
badbuzzes due to a lack of social media management.
The example of Nestlé is impressive. Indeed they faced with the anger of Greenpeace‘
members on Facebook due to the use of palm oil in their chocolate bare Kitkat. The
problem could easily been solved with the help of community manager that talk to
consumers and reassure them when it is necessary. That was a big mistake from Nestlé.
They were overwhelm by the attacks and could not face it, so they closed and cancelled
their fan page.
The recommendation in this case is to not panic. Take every complaint and take the time
to answer for everyone. The consumer is too important for not taking in account his
When Companies launch a viral campaign, they have to consider every risk, and take the
social factor in account. They have to open discussion pages where professionals can
answer them. There is no ―one‖ solution to avoid the viral risk; that is why some
precautions have to be taken. The priority is to manage the flow on social networks and
keep the fame and the image clean during the process.
On the other hand, there is a certain disinterest for viral communication from the web
users. The ―wow‖ effect is powerless than the beginning five years ago. People are fed up
to see another flashmob or another freeze on websites. Moreover, people begin to parody
this kind of communication.
Companies have to find another way to give a strong message to the consumer in a
corporate strategy. Another trend could be a possible way to communicate; the back to
basics is quite the contrary of the viral concept very 2.0 but it could be a new way to do
an old thing with some old fashion viral campaigns. For example, the old brand could
revisit their old advertisement and turn it in a new way. People want innovation but also
want authentic feelings. That could be a solution of diversification.
Some viral guidelines
Be small in file size, in orderthat it doesn‘t require a greatamount of time to view and be
impacted by it. Be distributed in a format thatmost people can use or viewwithout custom
or difficult to install software. Never be attached to an email,as anti-virus and office
Spam-blocking filters remove the attachment Be easy to use, and easy torefer to a friend
Be presented in a way that iseither blatantly branded, or notbranded at all…so that
thecontent is not boycotted orsabotaged by groups who maybe offended by the
commercialintent once discovered.
31. If you owned a business how would you use the Internet to attract customers?
32. Why is the Internet such an attractive marketing arena for businesses?
1. Bednar, J. (2010) ―Tweet Success‖, Business West,
2. Belaar, N. (2008) ―Viral Friday: Wassup 2008‖.
3. Beuker, J. (2008) ―Heineken launches viral ―star final‖ Campaign 2008‖.
4. Doran, R. (2010) ―Advertising success loosens traditional ties‖,