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What is Viral Marketing? How It Works and What Makes It Effective

What is Viral Marketing? How It Works and What Makes It Effective

Article by Aline Heller

Viral marketing is based on the concept that a message that spreads can be a useful medium for spreading awareness of one’s business or cause. There are two types of viral marketing. The first one markets the product itself and grows by itself through repeated cycles. The other one is a marketing campaign that is distinct from the product itself.

YouTube is one example of the first type of marketing. As more people encounter it, more people start using it, and usage continues to grow. The other type of marketing, on the other hand, is a campaign where users choose to spread a particular message because they chose to do so. For example, in a political campaign, an Internet user may opt to spread a message or a poster because he or she personally believes in the message.

Not everything that becomes viral in the Internet is viral marketing. If an uploaded video generated millions of traffic from curious Internet users, it will still not be considered viral marketing if it didn’t result in anything financially tangible for your business.

Here’s an example of viral marketing. If you wrote an ebook that discussed something innovative and you decided to make it freely downloadable on the Internet, you might get a lot of interested people to download your ebook. You can email the book to your friends and acquaintances and you can encourage them to pass the ebook to other people whom they believe will profit from it. You find out later that some of your friends did send out your book to other people. Some even sent it to dozens of people.

At this point, your ebook has become viral because it has spread. However, it cannot be classified as viral marketing. The marketing part entered when you decided to publish a hardcover version of your ebook. Some people who had already read the electronic version of your book, and liked what they read, still decided to buy the hardcover version simply because they prefer to have a hardcover version.

However, what we can surmise from this occurrence is that you really did not start out with the intention of virally marketing your book. It spread because the viral element had been built right into the book. It was a good book. People liked it and thought that it was worth sharing with others. They liked it so much they bought themselves a hard copy version, despite already having read the contents digitally.

If you want to be successful at viral marketing, don’t focus on your advertisement. Focus on your product. A really good product has the viral element naturally incorporated into it. It’s like YouTube. People liked it. It’s a great idea to have an online site for uploading the videos that they take with their handy cell phone cameras. The more they liked the idea, the more people used it. News of the product spread because it was a good product.

Make your product interesting enough that people would feel it would benefit others if they spread information about it. Viral marketing is the counterpart of word-of-mouth promotion in the digital age.

About the Author

Aline Heller writes about Internet businesses. To learn more about viral marketing, go to Viral Easy Profit. Another resource is WordPress User Manual Plugin.

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