Beginners Guide: What is Viral Marketing?

The concept of Viral Marketing?

  • Question: Have you ever visited a BBQ restaurant because your friend recommended it?
  • Answer: Yes.

The example above is a typical example of word of mouth, a powerful marketing tool and one type of viral marketing. 


Viral marketing is a method of marketing in which customers are encouraged to share information about a company’s goods or services. According to Wikipedia, Viral marketing or Viral advertising recognizes as the use of existing social networks to promote a product. It’s how customers spread information about a product in their social networks with their connections, “much in the same way that a virus spreads from one person to another”. 

Many internet users already think that they know everything that they need to know about their social networking community. Unfortunately, not everyone does. And it’s essential to do viral marketing to save your marketing budgets since paid ads are causing effects now, however, it’s not economic. That’s why this blog will provide you basic knowledge of growing your marketing skills with Viral. 

Below are some types of Viral Marketing: 

#1: Pure word of mouth

The oldest form of virality that occurs when your product or service is so remarkable and impressive that people naturally tell others about it. Many movies, books, and TV series took off because of this method.

#2: Inherent

Inherent virality occurs when your customers only get value from your product by inviting other users. Skype perfectly exemplifies this situation. You can only use Skype when your friends use it and the bigger the community is, the more valuable Skype becomes.

#3: Collaboration

Collaboration virality occurs when the product or service is valuable on its own but becomes more valuable when you invite others. Google Docs is very useful just by its own, but the more friends you invite, the more features you access. 

If you are interested in making new online friends, it is likely that you have already joined an online social networking community. Whether you are interested in joining more or you are a first-time user, you will carefully choose your networks. Research each social networking website online enables you to finalize yourself with the advantages and disadvantages of each. And, since most social networking websites are free to use, there are no risks associated with giving the network a try. The more relationships you build, the more trust you have from surrounded people and the better viral marketing plans work. 

#4: Communication

Virality can be embedded into communication in the product or service. When sending emails, Apple put a “Sent from my Iphone” as a default signature. As a result, every email sent promotes the product.

#5: Incentive 

This form of virality encourages customers to tell others about the product or service in exchange for benefits. The more friends you successfully invite, the more space Dropbox gives. Airbnb, Paypal, or Timo give you account credits for referring to others. 

#6: Embedded 

Use embedded buttons or widgets to spread virality. Youtube uses this form to increase its virality. Under every video, Youtube provides a button for you to embed that video on any website. In addition, you can use a wide range of buttons for sharing it across social media platforms. 

While it is nice to start meeting new people right away, it is also nice to know what your social networking site has to offer. This can only be done by closely examining the website. Whether you take one hour or one day examining the website, you will likely be pleased with your decision to do it. Therefore, your website can build trust and bring out effectiveness while sending out viral messages.

#7: Social media

This method leverages social networks to attract and generate leads to a product or service. A user’s activities are broadcast often more than one to his or her social connections. For example, on Facebook, you’ve probably seen one of your friends liking blog posts on other sites.

Common mistakes while doing viral marketing

Viral Marketing is definitely a great tool to utilize for marketing your business, but if you commit these mistakes you’ll be doing more harm than good. Here’s what to avoid. 

  1. Not creating an incentive for users to pass it along – make the content itself good/funny – Jokes are a good bet.
  2. Failing to capitalize on a campaign that proves successful. If your campaign starts to take off, ask yourself whether you can get any further publicity and monetize the incoming traffic or get more leads.
  3. Copying a viral campaign that does not suit your business. By doing so you will mess up the message you want to give your customers. 
  4. Not combining your viral efforts with other marketing methods. You shouldn’t put all your eggs into one basket – It’s suicide for your business.
  5. Not integrating SEO with your viral campaign. There is a synergistic effect of SEO and keywords with your viral efforts so don’t overlook it!
  6. Not making your stuff easy to share. Always give ample sharing tools for your followers to make things viral.

Just like how Rome was not built in a day, there are no shortcuts to success. Proper planning should always precede a viral campaign. Your business stands much to gain through the power of viral marketing. Even if you struggle with managing your viral campaign, hiring people to do the job for you can give you more benefits and can easily cover your investment costs from the hype and buzz you will get.  

Viral Marketing Example

Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” Campaign

In April 2013, Unilever, with its ad agency, launched “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” campaign to empower women about their appearances. The campaign is a short film featuring Gil Zamora, an FBI-trained sketch artist. In the video, he is sketching two portraits of women, one is based on their own description and the other is based on strangers’ description. Then the portraits are placed side-by-side. Surprisingly, the portrait based on the stranger’s description is more attractive than the one based on self-description. The message that the campaign wants to deliver is “You are more beautiful than you think”.

The clip was viewed more than 114 million times in the first month itself. According to Visible Measures, the Dove Real Beauty Sketches video was the most watched Internet video of 2013. There was a tremendous increase in its YouTube subscribers and Twitter and Facebook followers. The video not only went global and viral but also won 19 Lions including a Titanium Grand Prix.

Why it became viral?

The reason why this campaign became viral is it could connect to the audience emotionally. Marketing your company doesn’t mean promoting your products and services. Instead, you can attract customers with your brand’s culture. In the case of Dove’s campaign, people could relate to the idea of the video. The campaign itself didn’t try to promote Dove’s product. It focused on changing a women’s perception of how she looks and Dove’s company.

  • The ad has empowered women and empowerment is a powerful tool, which can enhance the brand image of your company, thus building a strong relationship with audience.
  • Shareability is a key factor for making your campaign succeed. It starts with creating the best content to differentiate your brand from competitors. Try to get customers involve in your campaign and provide them a place for discussion to develop customer relationship.
  • The word “you” helps to deliver a personal touch to your audience. Instead of saying “Women are more beautiful than they think”, saying “You are more beautiful than you think” makes women feel that Dove cares about each of them. Hence, while buying Dove’s products, people thought they are supporting a social cause.

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