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What is Viral Marketing?

Something went viral. This statement can be found more and more often in relation to content uploaded to the Internet. What does it mean and what is viral marketing?

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What is Viral Marketing? – definition

Viral marketing is designed to disseminate information about a product or service from person to person orally or via the Internet or email. The goal of viral marketing is to inspire people to share their marketing message with friends, family, and others in order to produce an exponential growth in audience.

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Understanding Viral Marketing

In the case of viral marketing, “virus” refers to something that spreads quickly and widely among an audience. Viral marketing is a deliberate venture, although the distribution of the message is organic. Consequently, social media is the ideal ecosystem for viral marketing, although it has its roots in traditional word of mouth marketing.

While the practice was much more widely used from the early to mid-2000s as new Internet companies emerged in huge numbers, it is still commonplace among business-to-consumer (B-to-C) Internet businesses. The widespread adoption of social media networks – including YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook – has enabled modern viral marketing efforts and increased their effectiveness.

Characteristics of viral marketing

All viral marketing examples – deliberate or accidental – have three things in common: message, messaging, and environment. Each part must be used to create a successful viral marketing campaign. Viral marketing campaigns can be created by companies of any size and can stand alone or be part of a larger traditional campaign.

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These campaigns can use several tools (e.g. movies, games, images, e-mails, text messages and free products) to appeal to the emotions of users or viewers, increase awareness of a worthwhile goal, and facilitate consumption and sharing. Viral marketing often relies on the help of an influencer who has a large network of followers.

With the help of social networks as a “strength multiplier,” viral marketing is faster than traditional marketing campaigns and also cheaper. Since it can receive so much traffic in a short time, it can also lead to mainstream media attention. Social media can also cause errors in viral marketing efforts as messages are altered, misinterpreted, considered spam, or prompted to omit the sign. Viral marketing success can also be difficult to measure.

Advantages and disadvantages of viral marketing

Viral marketing allows companies to better sell their products by reaching consumers who would normally not be targeted by traditional marketing campaigns. This extended reach allows the company to enter new markets and potentially expand its customer base.

When done creatively, companies can cause viral reactions. For example, Burger King made a buzz when he released pictures of his month-old moldy Whopper in response to McDonald’s claim that their burgers did not break down. Burger King ensures that it only uses fresh ingredients and contains no preservatives, which should provide better and healthier results for its customers. His unattractive looking burger was visible evidence of this claim.

Viral marketing costs are a fraction of traditional advertising campaigns. And advertising is essentially free when consumers contagiously share their positive experiences with the company’s products and services with others.

Since the internet allows content to be shared easily and quickly, viral marketing can also trigger a surge in audience. However, it should be remembered that the speed and ease of sharing content largely depends on whether the company uses the right tools to enable it.

Sometimes viral marketing provokes a reaction contrary to what was intended. Consumers are more likely to share negative news than positive news, and research shows that people are more emotionally responsive to negative news. Negative noise can be harmful to business and is sometimes difficult to recover.

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