What is Viral Marketing? - Definition, Techniques & Examples

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  • 0:00 What is Viral Marketing?
  • 1:11 What Techniques are Used?
  • 2:53 Examples of Viral Marketing
  • 3:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tara Schofield

Tara has a PhD in Marketing & Management

This lesson discusses viral marketing and offers techniques that make a campaign go viral. Examples of effective viral marketing campaigns and messages are included.

What is Viral Marketing?

We've all heard the phrase, 'It went viral.' But what does that mean? Viral marketing is a method of creating buzzwords or marketing pieces that are memorable and attention-grabbing in our modern, always-connected world. This method of marketing utilizes social media, videos, text messaging, and other person-to-person methods to spread information about a product or service instead of just creating a commercial and putting it on TV or radio. As they say, 'That's so 20th century.' Today, viral marketing is using the power of individuals sharing content to get messages out to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

When something goes viral, it's spread quickly and extensively from one person to another. With tools like YouTube and Facebook, sharing videos, stories, and images to thousands, even millions of people, can happen in minutes. This offers a powerful way to share information in a very short amount of time. Creating a message that is engaging and worthy of being shared is the challenge companies face when they want their marketing piece to go viral.

What Techniques Are Used in Viral Marketing?

The whole point of viral marketing is to get people talking about a product or company. If you're the marketing manager at a company and are responsible for creating a viral marketing campaign, there are some ideas that can help get your product out there and on everyone's mind:

  • Giveaways: These offer something exciting or fun. People love to talk about what they got for free and will tell others how to get it for themselves.
  • Videos: A video can offer a viewer a chance to engage in the product and experience it. It can be very fun and entertaining. The more memorable, funny, or shocking your video is, the more likely it is to go viral.
  • Social Media: It's pretty much impossible to engage in broad-scale viral marketing without using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or any other sources. These media allow people to easily share your message and greatly increase the likelihood that it will go viral.
  • Reinforcement: A one-time viral message can be quickly forgotten. However, having a series of viral messages will strengthen the effectiveness of your campaign. Think about Progressive Insurance and their long-running ads with Flo, their spokesperson. The familiarity of the campaign keeps the message in consumers' minds. They may not have needed insurance the first time they saw the Progressive ad, but after seeing five or ten versions of the same message, they will remember Progressive when they need insurance.

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