Viral Marketing

A "viral" marketing message is one passed from one person to another, like a virus. Also called “buzz” or “word of mouth” (WOM marketing).
Viral marketing on the internet is "word of mouth" on steroids. Advertisers try to create something that people will want to share with their friends.


or this Centrum Silver ad:

or this ad for..?

Ford Models uses free video in viral marketing. Companies sponsor Ford Models videos. It's the 3rd most popular site on YouTube, appealing to teenage girls.1

Hotmail and AOL mail are common examples. The email service is free, but each email contains an advertising message. The message is passed on each time you send a message to someone. The recipient is more likely to see the message because it comes from a trusted source.

Success Factors

Successful viral marketing campaigns provide something free and easy to transfer:

  1. Gives away products or services
  2. Provides for effortless transfer to others
  3. Scales easily from small to very large
  4. Exploits common motivations and behaviors
  5. Utilizes existing communication networks
  6. Takes advantage of others' resources

Viral Marketing Can Help Build a Brand

People can see viral messages without going looking for them. That exposes the message to new prospects.

Viral Marketing is Unpredictable

However, it's not always easy to "go viral". A campaign can be a huge success or a complete dud. When it works, creates a buzz among target market for a relatively small investment. The message gets past email filters because people forward messages to their friends. But marketers can’t predict where ad messages will end up.

Starbucks launched a large social media marketing campaign in summer 2009.

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