Table of Contents Hide
- Viral Marketing: Definition
- Viral Marketing: Characteristics And Success Factors
- Viral Marketing: Advantages And Disadvantages
- Viral Marketing: Successful Examples
- Conclusion: Viral Marketing Is More Than A Brilliant Idea
And then, we also talk about viral marketing. When your marketing campaign becomes a sure-fire success, spreads rapidly, is shared, liked, and commented on thousands of times on social networks, when suddenly the brand and the message are on everyone’s lips, a dream comes true for marketers. But such a self-starter can be challenging to plan. So what is the secret formula for viral marketing? Is there a recipe for success that increases the chances of it going viral? Find out the answer in this article.
Viral Marketing: Definition
Viral marketing is a marketing strategy by which marketers try to spread their messages through different channels, similar to viruses. Since no channel can spread information as quickly as social networks, social media is perfect for sending messages to the world through videos, images, or texts.
Viral marketing is characterized above all by the fact that the recipients of the advertising message do not classify it as mindless advertising. Therefore, this discipline aims to “package” the message in such a way that it is interesting, exciting, and entertaining. Whether text, image, or video – in the best case, the letter should trigger emotions. This is also the only way to ensure that recipients share and spread this message. In other words, it’s about developing a momentum of its own that makes it possible to send messages around the world at a rapid pace.
Viral Marketing: Characteristics And Success Factors
So what does a message look like to be a viral hit? This isn’t easy to generalize because the decisive factor for success is often simply luck. Nevertheless, there are a few characteristics that an advertising message should have. And these characteristics, and thus also success factors, are presented here in a bundle:
Creative And Original Idea
Your advertising message should contain a creative and preferably unique idea. Something that attracts attention but is still simple to understand. You can also use the strategy of storytelling and tell a story. This story should ideally be placed around your products, brand, or service. This is all about the perfect balance. Of course, the story or message must be the focus to lure attention first, but it should be targeted and subtle to maintain your actual focus.
Plan And Goal
Every good marketing strategy should be planned and follow a goal. This is also true for viral marketing. Although it’s harder to follow a precise plan here, you still need to be strategic. Which channels should be used? Where is the target group to be found? What is better suited to market my product, brand, or service: a video, a photo, or perhaps just a text post? And can I integrate this format well on the favored channels? Especially the choice of media and the support of influencers or multipliers is an essential part of viral marketing. In technical jargon, it is also called seeding.
Emotions And Identification
Nothing stays in mind as much as touching stories. Whether they make us laugh or cry – or perhaps both – such messages not only spread more rapidly. They also become better known through “word of mouth.” Because of what has inspired us, we tell, on occasion, to friends, acquaintances, family, or work colleagues. Stories with which we can identify are particularly touching. So it would be best if you did not neglect this aspect of your message.
You can often create specific incentives to encourage users to spread the message, for example, through competitions. So whoever shares the post, video, etc., can win something. However, because this quickly appears promotional, this option is often waived. It is, therefore, up to you to decide whether and to what extent such an incentive could harm your message.
Viral Marketing: Advantages And Disadvantages
Every strategy has its advantages and disadvantages. Viral marketing does too. And that’s why we want to present you with an overview of all the relevant benefits and weaknesses so that you can recognize and assess all the opportunities and risks at a glance.
If you compare viral marketing with other classic marketing campaigns, the unbeatable advantages include the low costs. Of course, this message must first be created and produced, but spreading it via social networks costs nothing in the first place. Of course, if you want to promote your posts, you must have the budget, but a good and creative message can make it even without an advertising budget. So if you compare the costs with a TV spot or blanket billboard advertising, the budget for viral marketing is convincing without exception.
Moreover, viral marketing is speedy. Once in circulation, the message can spread rapidly. And at a speed that no other advertising measure can match. This means you can reach your goal quickly, especially if suitable multipliers are involved.
By spreading the word to friends and acquaintances, viral marketing also gains a much higher level of trust on the part of the recipients. People who receive a video from a friend are more likely to watch it than if unknown companies spam their inboxes.
Because of Internet distribution, measuring the marketing campaign’s success is more complicated. Data on purchases or increased awareness can only be inferred with difficulty from the viral marketing campaign. This means that a certain amount of research is necessary; ideally, social media monitoring should also be carried out. For many marketers, these results are significant to get management approval for future campaigns.
Once in circulation, the viral marketing measure could be more controllable and challenging to control. So this fact means that there is always some risk. On the one hand, users can react negatively to your content and quickly trigger a shitstorm. On the other hand, the opposite can also happen – namely, nothing: no viral hit, no attention.
Viral Marketing: Successful Examples
However, some marketing examples show that it can work wonderfully. We briefly introduce you to three of the most successful viral marketing campaigns.
Ice Bucket Challenge
In 2014, the so-called “Ice Bucket Challenge” was launched. Surely this will still be on many people’s minds. It was a test of courage in which people poured a bucket of ice water over themselves and then shared the video on social networks. At the end of the video, people nominated other friends to do the same. This campaign aimed to raise awareness of the incurable nerve disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and to generate donations. Not only was the Ice Bucket Challenge shared on social media, but news channels and online magazines also reported on it – worldwide.
Another viral hit was Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie at the 2014 Oscars, which featured some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts. It was taken in the middle of the show in front of running TV cameras and was published directly on Ellen DeGeneres’s Twitter account. Due to the cross-media attention, the tweet received several million retweets and was seen worldwide. The kicker: the selfie was taken with a Samsung Galaxy Note, the awards sponsor. For this tweet’s enormous attention, Samsung set aside several million US dollars for donations to charity.
The YouTube video “First Kiss” also went around the world once. In this video, ten couples kiss, but the remarkable thing about it is that they don’t know each other. The camera captures the couples’ first moments of getting to know each other right up to their first kiss. A tranquil video but very touching. Because as silent observers, viewers are witnesses to a very intimate situation. And that pleased so many people that this video once went worldwide and recorded over 100 million clicks. The initiator of the video is the fashion brand WREN. Although it is not in focus at any time, all couples wear clothes of this fashion brand and therefore represent the brand very indirectly.
Conclusion: Viral Marketing Is More Than A Brilliant Idea
You have surely realized that viral marketing cannot be planned or controlled. Especially not in this day and age. Whether it’s TikTok, Instagram, or other channels, it doesn’t matter – there’s always a trend or a challenge that competes with you and your marketing idea. That’s why, in addition to a brilliant idea, there’s always a bit of luck involved.