There are two kinds of viral marketing. First is the original concept where the viral idea is built in the product. A good example of this concept is YouTube which went viral as more people talked about the videos they saw on the social site. The more the idea spread out the more people wanted to use YouTube.
The second one is quite recent, where a viral idea is not the product itself. ‘How to’ videos are a perfect example of this type of marketing. These videos are used to educate people and because they are interesting and useful viewers tend to make them go viral, thereby marketing a product indirectly.
Every effective viral campaign should embrace the following conditions.
1.) It should GIVE AWAY a product or service. Free software, free e-books, free email. Free is the magic word in a marketer’s wordbook. It attracts attention. Hotmail, easily the best example of a successful viral marketing strategy, began by giving away free web-based email services. Because the service was free, millions of people eventually opened accounts with Hotmail, making it a very successful company.
2.) It should allow EASY TRANSFER to other people. The medium that carries your campaign message should allow effortless transfer and replication of the message. To increase your chances of success, keep your message short and interesting.
Hotmail used a simple tag at the bottom of every free message sent out: “Get your private, free email at www.hotmail.com.” The more people sent emails using Hotmail, the more people got to know about the free email service.
3.) It should EXPLOIT common behaviour and motivations. The desire to be popular, cool, loved and respected drives people.
A successful campaign should exploit these motivations to set off the message. Hotmail exploited the desire to have an email address to drive its message across.
It is important to know that viral marketing ONLY works when well planned, when the message is interesting and offered in an easily transferable platform. Remember people will only spread your message if they can benefit from it.
Ask yourself questions such as will it (the viral idea) make me cool? Will I get more Twitter followers? Will I get more likes on Facebook? Answers to these questions will determine whether or not your message will go viral.
And more importantly, learn to leverage on social networks. Place your message into established social communities: Google Plus, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., and you will explode the message to hundreds, thousands and millions of people.