Viral marketing. What is it and how does it work?

Viral marketing - what does it consist of?

Viral marketing is commonly referred to as viral. The goal of those running such campaigns is to create compelling material that will interest the recipient enough that he or she will, on his or her own initiative, spread the content online or pass it on to someone in a traditional conversation. You could:

  • Share a post on Facebook that piqued your interest due to the fact that the material shown there was funny.
  • Provide feedback on a particular product.
  • Use the slogan of a particular company.

Viral marketing - examples

It is very likely that you use slogans that are associated with different brands in your everyday conversations. Perhaps you use such slogans as:

  • How about fries to go with it?
  • Adopt a Dot.
  • Bravo You!
  • Father, wash?
  • I'm Sprite, and you're thirst.
  • Well, and cool.
  • You have to have imagination, grandpa.

Interestingly, the phrase "Father, wash?" is nearly 30 years old, and it is still used in conversations. The effect of a viral marketing campaign can be that you even unconsciously use phrases that have a connection to a particular company. What are the origins of this form of promotion? The first time the term viral marketing was used was in 1997, when the effect of the Hotmail advertising campaign was to set up several million e-mail boxes. This action won with its originality. One of the most popular viral campaigns of recent years was the Ice Bucket Challenge, which involved a person pouring a bucket of cold water over himself, and then nominating three friends or family members for the task. The idea, however, was primarily to make a donation to a foundation that helps ALS patients. The result? The campaign spread around the world. Participants included Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Jordan. The viral also reached Poland. Famous athletes, celebrities or actors took part in it.

What should a viral campaign look like?

A successful viral marketing campaign is always a great success for marketers, as there is no clear recipe for it. The first such actions were born by accident and the authors themselves were surprised by their results. Such an action should be:

  • positively characterized,
  • surprising,
  • brilliance.

Video and graphic materials work best. Funny and ambiguous content yields excellent results. An interesting example of how funny materials can gain popularity is a certain funeral home from Bytom, which has 128,000 followers on Twitter and 504,000 fans on Facebook! Almost every post of theirs on these social networks is shared by observers, resulting in an even greater reach. However, it is not said that only humorous material achieves success. Controversial or touching content can provide no worse results. However, an effective viral marketing campaign must be well thought out. Among other things, one must take into account the mentality of the nation the message is intended to reach. The same material may be received differently in different countries.

Pros and cons of viral marketing

The first of the big advantages of viral campaigns is the low cost. The creators of the action incur expenses to create material that is expected to be so attractive that consumers themselves will take care of its dissemination. Other important positives of such actions are the possibility of achieving a huge reach and the effectiveness of the message. Why are such initiatives effective? The survey conducted by IRCenter shows that Poles primarily believe the recommendations of friends - this was the answer given by 64 percent of respondents. In contrast, only 31 percent of respondents trust TV ads, and 27 percent trust articles in the press. A successful viral campaign can bring long-lasting results and help build a positive brand image. For example, we mentioned a slogan that has been used by Poles for nearly 30 years. Do such activities have any downsides? They certainly include the difficulty of preparing an effective viral campaign. You need to have a lot of experience and properly plan the work so that the material can be successful. The best site for adding and promoting video material is YouTube, which has nearly 2 billion users worldwide. The productions posted on it are shared by Internet users on Facebook or Twitter and other social networks. The problem, however, is that a report published by Pex, which covers data collected in 2019, shows that more than 90 percent of YouTube videos do not even reach 1,000 views.

Viral marketing - is it worth it?

We can only answer this question in the affirmative, and the scale of your business or industry does not matter. However, keep in mind that creating valuable material that will ensure a viral effect is a big challenge.

Maciej Stoch

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