We hear about viral marketing every day in the form of a new viral video or post that spreads faster than the speed of light. Viral marketing evolved from unpredictable internet memes to a global marketing strategy overnight.
But what exactly is it? And how did it get so popular? Did it become viral because of the product or the advertising content? And do marketers plan viral campaigns, or is it simply luck?
What Is Viral Marketing?
Viral marketing is almost self-explanatory – marketing or advertising that spreads like a virus. It is a form of marketing that can quickly generate interest, hype, and potential sale of a product or services. A viral campaign aims to make viewers share the content among the peers, who then share it with theirs, and so on – spreading like a virus.
Though the term is mostly used for online content that can be shared quickly and easily on social networks, any strategy that encourages word-of-mouth is viral marketing. The most common examples of viral campaigns are emotional, funny, or unique videos on YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
Before internet marketing, businesses used traditional outbound media to promote their content, which took longer and was more expensive. Today, social networks have become the natural habitat for viral and overall digital marketing.
How Viral Campaigns Work?
In theory, creating a viral marketing campaign is easy. You have to create an attractive video or content, upload it on the internet, and promote it. After this, all you can do is wait for ignition and for viewers to crush the share button.
In many cases, a campaign becomes viral by luck or accident. For example, a random user uploads a video on Facebook, and in a short duration, it becomes popular and begins to generate a buzz around the internet. This is how most viral videos from around the world surface.
Although creating viral campaigns is easy, virality is now incredibly challenging as there is far more competition than there was a decade ago. As a result, all viral marketing campaigns fall into two main categories – lucky and engineered.
Engineered Viral Marketing
We live in an evolving consumer market that is steadily shifting online. As a consequence, marketers are intentionally engineering viral marketing campaigns. Yes, many viral sensations occur randomly, but now, we find that these campaigns are being strategized to go viral.
One of the best-known examples of this is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that started in 2014. It was an online effort to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease and raise funds. The viral campaign raised $115 million in two months.
It became so successful that 17 million people participated in the challenge worldwide, including celebrities like Tom Cruise, Mark Zuckerberg, Rihanna, Cristiano Ronaldo, Oprah Winfrey, and Tim Cook. The key engineering takeaways from this viral campaign were:
- The challenge only asked participants to pour a bucket of ice-cold water and donate. The objective was clear and concise.
- The challenge was for a limited time, which created urgency – you had to complete the challenge in 24 hours after accepting.
- ALS stroke the right emotional chord with audiences. The challenge was fun, and the purpose of the challenge was emotional.
- It was unique and unusual – something no one has ever done before.
Lucky Viral Marketing
More often than not, content goes viral on social networks due to sheer luck. Remember Charlie bit my finger? This is a great example of lucky viral content, and the video has over 800 million views up till now. Or remember when Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner of Miss Universe 2015?
The Advantages of Viral Marketing for Businesses
Apart from likes, shares, and 15 minutes of fame, there are many other benefits of viral marketing:
1. Lower Advertising Cost
After creating your video or content, your campaign will only require a little push using different digital marketing techniques like SEO or paid promotion. As it begins to gain views, your audience will start sharing the content. Furthermore, this will also impact your future campaigns as you can reach a larger audience, thanks to your original campaign.
2. Fast Growth
Success doesn’t usually happen overnight, but it can. Viral marketing is a few tactics that can potentially take you to the next level in very little time. Many small businesses have gone viral on social media platforms, and most of them spent years before they got it right.
No business can deny the power of mainstream media and the audience it holds. Viral marketing gives you a reason to cover your brand without any payment or petition. The best part is that mainstream media coverage creates its virality, thanks to the big names that follow the stories media outlets post. Just imagine what a feature on Fox News or CNN could do for your brand.
4. Boosted Credibility
With recognition comes trust, acceptance, and loyalty. When your business goes viral and captures the attention of different audiences, more people are willing to give it a try. Think of Old Spice or Dollar Shave Club, and how many people bought new razors after its viral video.
5. Quick Lead Generation
Most businesses keep their eye on sales that result from viral marketing. However, we can’t ignore how quickly viral campaigns generate leads. The fact is that people might be interested or hooked to your brand but not ready to purchase just yet. These leads will certainly keep you in mind when they’re ready.
Viral Marketing Amid COVID
If there’s one positive takeaway from COVID-19, it’s the digital surge and quick adoption of online sales. Thousands of brands are using viral marketing to drive traffic to their websites and stores.
I supposed there are pluses and minuses to everything.
by Bobby J Davidson
We love our company and we love what we do. Check out the ‘Why Percento‘ page to learn more: Love of Technology and Business! As the President of Percento Technologies International, I provide day-to-day leadership to the company’s senior management and I am personally involved in the strategy, business development and sales activities of the firm.
The company was founded in 1999 with the purpose of providing a one call source for organizations in need of Enterprise IT Consulting and Management. We also provide a line of products in the boutique Cloud Server space with a touch of high-end website strategy consulting and design services. We personalizes the IT Service experience with a team approach, working with clients from diverse sectors of industry, including energy services, financial, legal, entertainment, healthcare, hospitality, retail and general and/or corporate business. percentotech.com/contact