from Web Marketing Today.com 05/12 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz 11/13
How does Viral Marketing work? The term “Viral Marketing” sounded offensive to some people. Perhaps, because it sounds like “Virus Marketing. Call yourself a Viral Marketer and some people will back away. “Do they have a vaccine for that yet?” A sinister thing – these viruses. A simple virus is fraught with doom, not quite dead, yet not fully alive, it exists in that nether genre somewhere between disaster movies & horror flicks. But you have to admire the virus. It has a way of living in stealth mode, until it is so numerous that it wins by sheer weight of numbers. It piggy-backs on other hosts and uses their resources to increase its tribe. And in the right environment, it grows exponentially. A virus doesn’t even have to mate. It just replicates, again & again with geometrically increasing power, doubling with each iteration.
Viral Marketing Defined. What does a lowly Virus have to do with marketing? Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure & influence. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, to millions. Off the Internet, Viral Marketing has been referred to as “word-of-mouth,” “creating a buzz,” “leveraging the media,” “network marketing.” But on the Internet, for better or worse, it’s called “Viral Marketing.” While others smarter have attempted to rename it, to somehow domesticate and tame it, don’t try. The term “viral marketing” has stuck.
The Classic “Hotmail” Example of VM. The classic example of viral marketing is Hotmail.com, one of the first “free” web-based Email services. The strategy is simple:
1. Give away free Email addresses & services;
2. Attach a simple Tag at the bottom of every free message sent out: “Get your private, free email at http://www.hotmail.com”;
3. Then stand back while people Email to their own network of friends & associates;
4. Who see the message; and
5. Sign up for their own “free” Email service; and then
6. Propel the message still wider to their own ever-increasing circles of friends & associates.
Like tiny waves spreading ever farther from a single pebble dropped into a pond, a carefully designed Viral Marketing strategy ripples outward extremely rapidly.
Elements of a Viral Marketing Strategy
Accept this fact. Some viral marketing strategies work better than others. Few work as well as the simple Hotmail.com strategy. But below are the six basic elements you hope to include in your strategy. A viral marketing strategy need not contain ALL these elements, but the more elements it embraces, the more powerful the results are likely to be. An effective viral marketing strategy: (continued in Premium Content) +
[ Elements of VM: 1. Gives Away Valuable Products or Services, 2. Provides for Effortless Transfer to Others, 3. Scales Easily from Small to Very Large in Premium Content ]