Viral marketing refers to a strategy for allowing the consumers of a product to market it themselves. This technique employs word of mouth to the extreme. Essential viral marketing techniques include giveaways and freebies, video marketing, and a ubiquitous presence. Also called buzz marketing, viral marketing differs from social network advertising, but it can seem similar because social network marketing can give a company the appearance of successful viral marketing. So, if a company cannot go viral, it can purchase consistent presence on enough social networks and other online outlets to spread knowledge of the product in a viral arena.
Giveaways and freebies attract attention because people love to get things for free. To gain viral attention, a company can use promotional offers, like a sweepstakes, to collect information about prospective customers. Inexpensive branded items like t-shirts, pens, and mugs can help make a well-marketed product a household name to the people who receive the free products. Offering a form of company currency like redeemable points in exchange for participation in social projects can help build a loyal and vocal customer base.
Participation in social media is one of the most vital viral marketing techniques available to a budding company. Common platforms for social media participation include bookmarking sites, social profile sites, and microblogging social websites. Use of social bookmarking sites is vital to achieving a high search engine rank, which drives traffic to a website.
A company using social media as one of their viral marketing techniques will find that members of different social media sites respond differently when receiving potentially viral media. Some users blog about interesting viral items, while others link to them on social networking sites or send them directly to a close group of friends by e-mail. Considering the market within a social media platform can help a company focus its viral marketing techniques on the right kind of Internet user. The tastes of the market that responds best to viral marketing techniques can help give marketers clues about what might go viral within those online social circles.
Video marketing no longer means that a company has to spring for an expensive commercial to get the word out about their products. Companies that wish to spread their viral video need only to upload it onto a popular free video service and propagate the video throughout the social Internet. If the video catches on, viewers can send it to friends, spreading a company's message at no further advertising cost to the company.