Over time, how messages are conveyed has changed. From newspapers, TV commercials, radio advertising, and billboards to the advent of the Internet which has caused a significant expansion of marketing. Statistics show that the average person spends more than 6 hours a day online, and an increase from year to year is expected.
The Internet offers countless opportunities to creatively and effectively promote a brand or individual. The Internet has enabled faster dissemination of information and better connection with customers, which has led to the emergence of viral marketing. Find out what viral marketing is and what its benefits are below.
What is viral marketing?
Viral marketing means that an organization creates content for that content to be shared by users. It focuses on consumer behavior, which would be encouraged by the message to the extent that it spreads both orally and via the Internet. Viral marketing is one of the most effective ways to attract attention and raise the brand to a higher level of recognition.
Viral marketing relies on 3 things:
- The message - The very essence and association of the brand,
- Messenger - A person who uses a product or service and then shares content about it,
- Environment - Social networks, but also the attitudes and expectations of consumers.
Characteristics of viral marketing
Successful marketing messages are different from anything else on the market. They have characteristics that make their messages stand out and attract consumers. Practice so far has shown that marketing messages that provoke strong emotions are most likely to be forwarded.
The most important characteristics of viral marketing messages are the following:
- Social value: The social value of a message will be shared by the person who identifies with the message it represents, or by those who support those values.
- Current content: People are more inclined to share the things that are being talked about. So if the content of the message is related to the current topic, more will be shared. The content must be relevant to the users to whom it is placed and present on social media and in society.
- Emotions: Emotional content, whether positive or negative, is more shared, due to the connection that users feel. That is why every viral marketing message should have an emotional dimension. Emotions can also be caused by a surprise factor that will be conveyed by the message.
- Publicity: It is human nature to imitate what he sees others doing successfully. If the success of the brand's users is emphasized in the marketing message, there is an increase in sales of the product or service.
- Practical value: Things that have practical value are things that are useful to us. In a marketing message, practical value is indispensable.
- Stories: People like to listen to and convey stories, so if a marketing message contains facts, it is necessary to present that information through the story.
Viral marketing techniques
Viral content mostly has a well-designed viral strategy and technique that will achieve greater success in the market.
The 9 most important viral marketing techniques are as follows:
- Target the right audience and channels - Initially, you need to determine who your target audience is and where it is on social media. It is necessary to send a message that will create interest among the audience. The channel is equally important. If you have the right message and don’t use good channels, you won’t reach your target audience.
- Create videos - One of the great ways to go viral is to create videos. Video can encourage users to get involved in your product or experience so they too can become users of a product or service. If the video becomes popular, it can spread throughout the Internet.
- Offer a valuable product or service for free - Most viral marketing programs offer valuable products or services for free to attract attention and customers. If you offer something for free, you will not profit today or tomorrow, but you will arouse people's interest. They can later become your most loyal customers and users of products or services.
- Create an emotional appeal - As we said earlier, emotions are an integral part of a viral marketing message. Viral marketing cannot have an impact if it is not related to a certain emotion.
- Do something unexpected - If you want people to notice your marketing campaign - surprise them, do something unexpected. Don't use tricks and tools that everyone uses, people won't bother to look if they've seen it before.
- Enable sharing and downloading - While sharing your content or message, allow people to download and share it. That way, the message or content will spread quite quickly.
- Don't focus on traditional marketing - Traditional marketing refers to promoting a product or service by showing how good it is. Instead of focusing on presenting a product or service, focus on a good and interesting story that people will easily remember.
- Social Reach - One of the more effective viral marketing techniques. If you want to reach as many people as possible, you will do so if influential individuals in your industry recommend your product or service.
- Reinforcement - Once you have placed your marketing message and attracted the full attention of people, the next step is to react. One-time marketing messages are quickly forgotten, so it is important to make several versions of the same message and place them on people.
The difference between viral marketing, buzz marketing, and word of mouth
Although the terms word of mouth, viral, and buzz marketing are often used as synonyms, below we will highlight the key features that distinguish these tools and ways of communication.
Word of mouth
Word of mouth is an informal way to convey information to family, friends, and consumers, based on personal experience with a brand. The practice has shown that word-of-mouth transmission is slow, while viral marketing is much faster. On the other hand, these two types of marketing can be linked by a pattern-effect relationship, because a positive word of mouth can be a viral marketing effect.
Paul Marsden defined buzz marketing as:
Promoting a company or its products and services through an initiative conceived and designed to get people and media to speak positively about a company, product, or service.
It can be both online and offline but is more used as an offline strategy to get people to talk about a product or brand. In contrast, viral marketing is more about electronic media. Like word of mouth, buzz marketing can be the result or consequence of viral marketing.
Advantages of viral marketing
As stated earlier in the text, viral marketing is one of the most effective ways for organizations to spread their messages to a wider audience, and its 3 key benefits are the following:
1. It can build your brand
Once a marketing campaign goes viral, the audience automatically learns everything about the company, the products, and the brand itself. So people who have never heard of your company now know everything about it. In this way, new companies build their way, and existing ones remain relevant in the market.
2. It does not require a large budget
A viral marketing campaign is a cost-effective way to spread the message to potential customers. Viral marketing has the usual costs of producing a marketing campaign, but much lower distribution costs compared to the traditional method.
3. It reaches a large audience
A viral campaign can have a very large reach of one million views. Small organizations can reach a global audience with a smart viral marketing campaign and can experience increased sales and greater engagement on social media.
Viral marketing - examples
Zoom Virtual Background Challenge
During the COVID19 pandemic, people were mostly in their homes, and companies had to switch to online mode. Zoom, the video conferencing platform, designed the Video Background Competition in March 2020 for all remote employees, as well as for all students, pupils, and professors. People around the world could share videos or pictures using the zoom’s virtual background feature, for which they could receive 3 monthly prizes. During that period, there was quarantine all over the world and people used online meeting platforms a lot. Zoom took advantage of the situation is a great way and launched the campaign at the right time.
This campaign became the most successful viral campaign in 2020, in which over 50,000 people signed up to participate in the competition. She brought new people to the Zoom platform and got them to explore different functions.
Apple: Shot on iPhone
Apple has announced its campaign called "Apple: Shot on iPhone" to promote the quality and benefits of their cameras. The company focused on the "selfie" aspect that people could share on their social networks with the label - Shot on iPhone. At the end of the campaign, Apple announced the 10 winners who had the best photos. Because of this campaign, Apple introduced itself as the phone with the best camera. You can see the photos that Apple singled out as the best at this link.
Volkswagen: The Fun Theory
In 2009, Volkswagen launched a completely different and interesting campaign called "The Fun Theory". The campaign began with experiments testing the theory that entertainment can change people's behavior. The experiments were shared through various channels. A competition in creating the best experiment was also organized, and the prize was 2,500 euros. You can see some of the most interesting advertisements at this link.
In the end
In the end, we can say that viral marketing is now in full swing, and its end can only happen if creativity disappears. When ideas come up, they just need to be developed. The most important thing is to be original and unique. As we have stated in the text, it is necessary to stand out in the hill of the same messages.