With Psy’s Gangnam style becoming viral and creating the Guinness record, we couldn’t contain ourselves, but to discuss what viral marketing is, how it works and if there are factors that can control it. So the SMACK team met at the CCD Park Street, Kolkata, to discuss this topic.
Sam said that “viral marketing means any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s influence and exposure. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, to millions.”
Shilpa added that two products that went viral are Hotmail and YouTube. She pointed out that the reason why Hotmail became famous was because it was free. You get your private and free email at www.hotmail.com. This concept of free email spread like wild fire and suddenly everyone was on Hotmail. So what we need is an idea to click.
What contributes to any idea becoming viral and engulfing millions? Let’s take a look at that:
- When a valuable product or service is given away for free. The classic example being YouTube and Hotmail. Both these product and service were made available to free at a time when the concept of free video or email service were not present. “Free” is the strongest word in any marketer’s vocabulary. So, when you give away an essential product and service for free, you have people’s maximum attention.
- The transfer should be effortless. The reason why viruses are considered to be dangerous is because of its ability to infect others in a very limited amount of time (think of the flu season). Likewise, in viral marketing, the transfer of product or service should be effortless and cost effective. The easier it is to spread, the more seen or heard it will be.
- It should be easily scalable, that is, it should rapidly multiply from small to very large.
- It should be able to exploit the common behaviors and motivation. It should take advantage of the common human motivation. For Gangnam style, the common motivation was entertainment, and rest you know, is history.
- It should utilize existing communication networks. Again, we can’t help but take Gangnam style’s classic example. It created a video, and instead of asking people to buy the DVD, it was uploaded on YouTube (which is also popular product owing to viral marketing) and Gangnam style created world record in fastest likes.
- It should take advantage of others’ resources to publicize. For example, authors who give away free articles. A news release can be picked up by hundreds of periodicals and form the basis of articles seen by hundreds of thousands of readers. In this case, someone else’s newsprint is relaying your marketing message; someone else’s resource is getting depleted rather than yours.
Tell us your ideas about viral marketing. Any pointers you would like to see up there? Let us know.