Viral Marketing

This section of the website is devoted to discussions, examples and general musings on the concept of viral marketing. It deals with the following:

 

What is viral marketing?

Why should I care about virals?

Where can I find out more?

Can Silver Mask help my concept go viral?

What is viral marketing?

In short, viral marketing takes advantage of information flows within existing social networks to advertise.

 

The most common explanations you'll find online mention that as a virus makes use of its host to reproduce itself and spread, a viral message is passed along by the people who encounter it. Next, they give a diagram illustrating exponential growth like this one, where each successive line of '0's represents carriers of the message as time passes:

 

0

000

000000000

000000000000000000000000000

 

Finally, they give some example of successful viral marketing adverts and campaigns, such as these:

 

Will It Blend : iPhone

 

Diet Coke + Mentos 

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Why should I care about virals?

Virals - short for 'viral advertisements' - can spread quickly across a social network for a relatively small initial investment. Trying to promote your new website? Try going viral! Virals can also achieve greater penetration into the target population as people are more likely to take notice of messages from friends than strangers.

 

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Where can I find out more?

The best discussions of viral marketing reflect on aspects which directly impact on the successful implementation of a viral marketing strategy. I am going to try and summarise these here.

 

1. Insertion Vector

2. Target Population

3. Transmission

4. Replication

5. Symbiosis

6. Symptoms

7. Incubation Period

8. Pathogens

 

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Insertion Vector

 

This is the method by which the viral message is initially sent out, also called 'seeding'. Perhaps a TV commercial, website, posters, T-shirts etc. This can be quite cheap provided it is carefully planned, targeted, timed and the message is highly infectious! Given time, a quietly released viral may spread into the mainstream gaining popularity from its apparently humble origins.

 

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Target Population

 

Who is the viral intended for? Obviously the message must penetrate this target audience but it must also reach it through the social network. A message intended for children would suffer if parents tended to filter it out, but could still propagate if it did not rely on the parent-to-child flow of information.

 

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Transmission

 

How will it be spread? Most virals will spread through any and all available methods. For a social network these currently include email, telephone (voice, video, text), word of mouth and internet (pages, blogs, podcasts, feeds, forums, comments etc). If new methods arise, then they may prove to be a fertile ground for a cutting edge viral technique! A simple message is easy to transmit, but a complex message like a video may be restricted in the manner of transmission. Fostering discussion of the viral through forums and comments serves to transmit it and ALSO to make it more popular. Like wearing branded clothing it can become a significant part of life.

 

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Replication

 

To reproduce costs some amount of energy. This is an overhead the viral must cope with. A verbal slogan will be easier to remember if shorter, but may benefit from alliteration or a catchy jingle. A large video file will be awkward to send, may cause mail server problems and take too much time to download. A successful viral will be economic to copy AND interesting enough to make the carrier want to pass it on.

 

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Symbiosis

 

This is when the viral actively benefits the carriers - a symbiotic relationship. Offer the audience something free and they'll pass it on to their friends if they think it's worth it. A successful viral may share various factors common to other more mainstream advertising such as humour and originality, but the main advantage of viral advertising is when it pretends not to be advertising at all! If a viral takes without giving, it might still work but won't be popular e.g. Chain letters that give bad luck for breaking the chain. These kinds of viral are more parasitic in nature.

 

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Symptoms

 

What do you want the viral to do? Is it a simple matter of raising brand awareness? Perhaps you want people to visit a certain website, phone a telephone number, wear a badge, chant a slogan or gather at a particular place? The viral can be tailored to do any these things but the more energy and effort the carriers need to expend the more difficult it is. Raising awareness is therefore pretty easy compared to getting people to phone a number.

 

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Incubation Period

 

Once released, how long is it until the viral has the desired effect? You may wish to build up suspense until a product release date. The problem with this is that if not managed properly it is easy for people to become impatient, frustrated, lose interest or get caught up in the next big viral marketing strategy that comes along!

 

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Pathogens

 

Pathogens represent the dark side of viral marketing. Not all symptoms of the viral may be desireable or even intentional. Spam messages are a kind of viral excess which prompt a prospective carrier to ignore or actively reject the message. Mail server overloads can result from viral messages which spread beyond the capacity of the network to sustain it. The benefits and risks of a viral need to be weighed carefully. Imagine complaints arising from a particular viral message being considered inappropriate! This may itself result in a media frenzy which serves to propagate the message but at the possibly acceptable cost of some negative publicity.

 

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Can Silver Mask help my concept go viral?

Absolutely. We enjoy coming up with entertaining new ideas to capture the public imagination as well as the challenge of implementing an effective viral marketing strategy. Take a look at the The Brain Bucket section of the site. Silvermask is able to draw upon a strong supporting base of business contacts to help realise your goals.

 

>> Have a word with us today!