Viral marketing has become a respectable and most importantly, very effective means of marketing amongst businesses worldwide – that’s if it is done correctly and respectfully.
Correctly and respectfully? What does that mean? It means not abusing the system. It means using viral marketing tactics to spread the word about your business, your product and your service without offending others or being self-serving.
But, viral marketing is inherently self-serving, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. To be truly effective, viral marketing must include a give and take approach. You must engage others, take part in conversation, and give as much as you get. In other words, don’t expect your message to spread itself. Viral marketing takes time, careful planning and well-thought out execution.
It has, for lack of a better word, an incurable need for attention.
While viral marketing can be applied in a number of ways, there are 3 main approaches:
#1 – To Share. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are in fact products of viral marketing themselves. While their sole purpose is to allow (and encourage) users to share information, they too must share their service via their users. It’s simple, really. Their users believe in them and enjoy their websites so much, that they share those websites with others. Knowing this and trusting this would take place, these social media powerhouses have become multi-million, some billion dollar businesses thanks to, you guessed it, viral marketing.
#2 – To Add Value. Adding value is not a characteristic unique to viral marketing. It is a common marketing approach across the board. For hundreds of years, business owners have understood the importance of offering their customers “more”. For instance, buy this product and receive this additional product for free. You get the picture. So, this notion of adding value applies to your viral marketing in the same way. However, rather than simply applying added value to your products and services, make value-added offers to those who share your message. For instance, send this message to an additional 10 people, and receive a free product. Incentivise and you will see results!
#3 – To Create Buzz. Similar to sharing, creating buzz can be extremely effective. How is it different? While sharing refers to others literally sharing information with friends (i.e. Like my Facebook page? Sign-up for your own Facebook page today and see more of what I’m up to, including photos, favourites and more!) creating buzz is more about spreading the word. Consider how gossip spreads, or the way in which gossip magazines create stories based on hearsay. The idea is to get people “talking” about you and your business in a positive way so that they begin to encourage others to become customers, sign-up or carry on the conversation on their own.
As you can see, viral marketing is about more than inundating your audience with your message. Its about strategic planning and taking an approach that puts your business in a positive light while enticing others to not only become customers, but to spread the word as well.