Is Viral Marketing your thing?

Image courtesy of Ognian Mladenov at Flickr.com

When we talk about viral marketing, we talk about the use of social networks, blogs and forums to increase the consumer awareness of your brand. Far from what many people might believe, viral marketing is not a new idea which has never been implemented before. It is simply a new strategy that acquires a new meaning through the use of Internet. What matters in Digital Marketing is that users disseminate a viral message among their social media contacts in order to achieve greater exposure of brand awareness, and, of course, their influence on potential customers.

The great challenge when it comes to viral marketing is to excel among the huge amount of advertising messages that consumers see on a daily basis, especially in social networks. We all know that we pay more attention to the messages from our contacts than to the advertising contents that make up a huge part of the daily digital landscape.

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In order to elaborate a viral marketing strategy is necessary to know very well the target audience to which the message is intended. As in all marketing strategies, including those that have not been developed online, it is important to remember that no strategy seeks to reach the whole world, not even as many people as possible. The truth is that the more delimited (in many ways) the target audience is, the message will arrive with greater clarity and force.

Likewise, the content of the contents should be clear as well as convincing. The idea is that users can share them easily and have reasons to share them, other than an economic benefit. The idea is not to pay each and every one of the users who share the information; precisely, what companies are looking for is that users share it for free, because they find other reasons to do so. Having fun and entertaining their contents, for example.

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This does not certainly mean that you can’t reward those who share or like your contents on the social media. Several companies create prized contests to those who share their ads or who participate and share the results of a test or game.

Another tip for developing a good digital marketing strategy is to partner with other websites or blogs for sharing the contents you want to promote. Never forget that everyone should be clear that the contents you provide are free (and always underline the word Free.) This, especially considering that some small companies of young entrepreneurs do not always have the necessary resources to invest 20% of their income in elaborated marketing campaigns (which is highly recommended.) Viral marketing, when is well planned and executed, may be as effective as other techniques for transmitting information about a brand.

Now, what about the drawbacks? Well, first off, viral marketing is not easy to measure and monitor. You can only know if your strategy is successful through sales increases, by the volume of response you get, but you will not know more details about why your clients do choose your brand, who they are, under what circumstances they have paid for your products or services, in addition to other variables that could allow you to develop new and improved marketing strategies.

Image courtesy of David Salaguinto at Flickr.com

On the other hand, viral marketing may not be appropriate for the promotion of brands that offer products and services that consumers buy discreetly. Not all users are unwilling to massively share viral content about sex toys, guns, liquors, cigarettes, or swinger dating sites. The consumption of such articles and services, in many cases, belong to the private (or, rather, discreet) life of users, which they would prefer to keep hidden.

However, the number of pros is greater than the cons. Most part of companies is interested in increasing the web traffic to their websites, in addition to the mere knowledge of their brands among consumers. Both the messages and content circulating in a viral marketing campaign have specific purposes, and that is why it is only aimed at those interested. This, in practical terms, means a large flow of new customer traffic when you have transmitted the right information to the right people (and the right amount of them.)

Another important aspect is that it is quite easy to implement. The mechanics of viral marketing operates just like the spread of gossips. It is only necessary to get in touch with people in the strong promotion areas to start fostering relationships, and thus gain the favor and loyalty of them.

Finally, viral marketing is very useful for building your brand. Increased exposure and frequency of messages can reinforce the positioning of a brand in the minds of consumers, especially if they are in permanent contact with the contents you post and if these differ from those of your competition.

So, is it your thing?

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