Viral marketing is also known as buzz marketing. It is very similar to social network marketing. It means marketing technique using social network to produce increased awareness of brand or to achieve other marketing objectives. The only differentiator here is the use of self-replicating viral processes to produce buzz. It is spreading marketing messages using ways very similar to the spread of viruses (both actual viruses and computer viruses). Viral or buzz marketing is also known as centrifugal marketing, grassroots marketing, guerrilla marketing, referral marketing or wildfire marketing.
How is the viral process achieved? The most obvious is through the word-of-mouth enhanced by social networks. The viral promotions are spread by the people through forwarding the marketing messages through various media like emails, text messages, ebooks, images and even interactive flash games. For word-of-mouth method to work the main objective is to identify individuals or methods with high social networking connections to pass the marketing messages around the influence circles. These individuals are supposedly the centre of influence (COI) to be effective. Buzz marketing is basically the practice of creating talk around a product, service, company or brand.
The most notorious examples of viral marketing are those related to pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing (network marketing). Looking at it positively, this is how human beings naturally would do if they are happy with certain products or services. We would automatically want to talk about the benefits we are getting.
The classic example of successful viral marketing is hotmail free email service. It started as the first free webmail service with following strategies: provide free email address and service and attach a simple tag at the bottom of every email sent out to invite people to create free email account. The effect is viral as people who receive the email will read the invitation and start creating email account to send even more emails to other who will then start creating email addresses. The process will go on and on and getting bigger and bigger. This is the power of viral marketing.
To conduct successful viral marketing, here are some important elements: give away valuable products or services, provide effortless transfer to others, scales easily from small to very large, exploit common motivations and behaviors, utilizes existing communication networks and take advantage of others’ resources as outline by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson in The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing.
For reference, here is a list of The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Timecompiled by Patrick Altoft. I hope you enjoy those and you may want to let me know which one you clik and share with your friends. :-)