Viral Marketing: A Social Media Experience

Written By: Khadeeja Coonrod

Ever heard of anything such as word of mouth? Ever heard of Viral Marketing? Welcome to Viral Marketing, a marketing technique that uses social networks to increase brand awareness by word of mouth delivery or network effects of the internet. Viral promotions come in the forms of: E-books, images, text messaging, video clips, brandable software, advergames, and interactive Flash games.

In the 1990’s the producers of Mystery Science Theatre realized that their best marketers were the show’s few but faithful audience and so they encouraged the show’s viewers to videotape their copyrighted shows and pass on to friends. This was the beginning of a new way for word of mouth to spread.

Flashforward to 2002, three years before YouTube, BMW reported that over 11 million viewers tuned in to watch The Hire, a series of eight short films made specifically for the internet starring Clive Owen. 2 million of those viewers registered to the BMW website and within four years, the videos were viewed over 100 million times.

The proof now exists that viral marketing is a good technique. YouTube acquainted viral marketing to social media. Now we have more tools than we know what to do with: YouTube, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, Flickr, Ning, and the list goes on.

Let me give an example of how I’ve seen viral marketing do way better now than personal face to face contact has. I was working with an owner to promote his club and he wanted a street team to put promotional flyers for his club on cars parked around the club area. Do you want to know what everyone did? Most got to their cars and took it off, made sure it’s not a parking ticket, and then threw it on the ground. Many of them looked annoyed or angry that there was some paper on their car in the first place only promoting yet another club that may or may not last. The street team I was working with kept saying, “This would be easier if the owner used Facebook or Myspace to send out club invitations and there, people can look at more information and see who’s attending the events held.”

Friendly faces aren’t enough these days. People want to see results. People want to make sure someone they know will be there, they want to discuss details. They want to know through the web. The internet is the place to do that since it uses marketing tools to help promote their companies from online contests to online banner ads.

Blogging is another huge tool in social interaction. One of the first ways people will openly discuss something they saw or experienced that they liked or didn’t like is to blog about it. Once it’s out in the open, you get a reaction. Someone will either agree with you or disagree with you but now you have a list full of comments by readers or fans who are adding in their two cents worth. This is an effort in contribution.

To make viral marketing work, you must be able to build a solid relationship and how’s that done? Communication, communication, communication. It’s all about what the consumer wants. It’s all about what’s being mentioned by everyone. The consumer gets the last word. But just because someone tells you to buy a certain laptop doesn’t mean you’re going to go out and purchase it. You want the one that goes with you. You may not even want a laptop, you may want a PC or; you may not even know what you want. It could turn out that you may need to talk to someone who can assist you in trying to figure out what you need, what you don’t want, and try to then know exactly what works best for you. It’s about listening and paying attention to what websites are being used, what isn’t going well for people, and what could be improved.

Viral marketing is about catering to the crowd and influencing what’s in demand for the masses.

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