Going viral is a good thing
H1N1 aside, there’s a lot of talk these days about going viral. Of course, just about all of this talk predicates on the assumption that everyone knows exactly what “viral” means. Here’s a direct quote from Wikipedia’s “viral marketing” entry:
“The buzzwords viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages. The basic form of viral marketing is not infinitely sustainable.”
Wow. That’s a mouthful. Here’s a seven word definition: “spreading your stuff like a disease online.”
All the vocabulary words dropped by the author of the above amount to a bunch of stuff you can create and spread around. Not unlike a custom t-shirt was 25 years ago. In going viral, your company creates some fun, useful, and/or compelling online doo-hickeys and uses platforms like facebook, youtube and twitter to spread them around to lots of people. Eventually your doo-hickey takes on a life of its own, as people spread it to their friends, who spread it to their friends, and so on.
Well, in theory it sounds great. But the question is, how well does this stuff work? By its nature, viral marketing involves creating fleeting, lightweight stuff (advergames?). It seems to me that putting strong, good quality content online is the best thing you can do. If you want to try viral techniques, I would suggest that you have a very strong brand and web presence first. Or at least a great website….which we can build for you!!!
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