Marketing is all about getting the most people interested in and wanting to buy a product, and this is true whether we’re talking about a new car or a new Facebook app.
Marketing professionals call attention to their product gains that lead to purchases’ “market penetration.” Market penetration can occur through traditional marketing channels such as print ads, creative agency, and television commercials. However, it can also occur through viral marketing.
What is viral marketing?
Viral marketing is the practice of having something go “viral,” spreading from person to person via word-of-mouth or online sharing, which leads to increased attention for a product.
An effective viral campaign will often use at least one psychological principle to get people interested and want to spread the word. For this purpose, let’s look at three of the most common principles used in viral marketing campaigns:
Experts say that consumers want to feel important, so every marketer or creative agency who is planning a campaign will often select a phrase or image that many people can easily share. For example, one could tweet “What color is the dress?” and attach a photo of the dress.
Viral marketing campaigns often use humor, which is one of the most effective ways to get people interested in sharing something, for two reasons: funny content is more memorable than boring content, and humor has an element of surprise that will make people want to share it with others.
One might add a funny or shocking image, such as an elephant riding a unicycle — even if the photo is unrelated to the product, it might be so interesting that people will want to share it with their friends. One could also use humorous slogans in order to get more interest and desire for sharing.
Types of Viral Marketing
Often, certain kinds of viral marketing efforts are confused with others, so it can be helpful to know what they are and how they differ. Here are the most common types:
Organic Or Word-Of-Mouth
This kind of viral marketing is the product of a happy customer who tells their friends about how much they love a particular product or service. For example, if this article convinces you to purchase pizza from My Favorite Pizza Joint (TM), and you like them so much that you tell your friends about it, your enthusiasm could certainly be considered organic or word-of-mouth marketing.
This is similar to organic or word-of-mouth, but it refers to customers who are so happy with a product or service that they tell their social media contacts about it through posts on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest, and YouTube.
An example of this might be a conversation you have with a friend at a party, during which you tell them about the deli that makes the best sandwiches in your area.
Rather than saying something like, “I love their cheesesteaks,” you might say something more along the lines of, “Oh my God! They have this great sandwich – it’s got chicken and bacon and cheese and pesto and tomatoes and avocados and all kinds of delicious things on it! I’m going to get one tomorrow for lunch!”
If your friend responds, “OMG yum! What is that place called again?” you could reply, “I’ll tell you later. It’s called My Favorite Sandwich Store (TM).”
If we go with this example, you would be the one doing social sharing.
This refers to businesses that use sites like Facebook and Twitter to spread marketing messages.
For instance, if a company were to offer a free pizza on their Facebook page every time someone “likes” their page or makes a comment, they are using social media to create social sharing, which can then sometimes turn into organic or word-of-mouth efforts.
Viral Marketing Campaigns
This refers to businesses that actively use various forms of viral marketing in order to spread their message and increase their business. For instance, if a company were to design an ad campaign with the goal of making people tell others about their product or service, they might purchase Facebook ads to target people who love the beach. Then, as part of the ad campaign’s content, they would include a video of a little boy singing his version of “Uptown Funk” while wearing nothing but swim trunks.
The company would post this video on its website and social media pages so that anyone who visits its page can see it. After seeing this video, some people might feel the urge to share the ad on their own social media pages.
How to do it right?
Marketers must be sure not to cross moral boundaries with their viral campaigns because this will hurt the product’s image and turn people away from it. For example, one should not use a photo of an animal being mistreated in order to advertise a product. Instead, one could find a happy or funny picture of an animal unless the purpose is to highlight problems with how animals are treated.
People are sensitive to the “herd mentality” and will be more likely to go along with what others are saying or doing, so marketers often try to include references in their ads that people can identify with, such as a feeling of unity with others.
If possible, marketers should use images of people rather than objects because this increases the sense of social connection.
One can appeal to consumers by associating their product with something that is already liked, such as linking the new app with a popular video game or cartoon series. If possible, marketers should also create content that makes consumers feel like they are part of an exclusive group.
For example, one could create a viral ad in which only certain people understand a joke.
Whether a viral marketing campaign is planned or happens organically, the important thing is to be aware of how it works and what psychological principles one can use in order to make it more effective. Once you’ve helped something go viral, the next step is getting consumers interested in it enough that they want to spend money.