Viral marketing. It sounds horrible doesn't it, yet this is something we do all the time. The truth is that we can spread a lot more that infectious bacteria each time we open our mouths. There was time before marketing media existed broadly the only way information about a product or service could be shared by the remote populace was through word of mouth. It is just as effective now as it was a century ago and may have even more impact. The constant bombardment by advertising and marketing companies through the media has created a society of non-believers. We just don't believe everything we read or see right off the bat. We prefer to do our due diligence and find out if product "A" really does what the advertisers say and if it truly is superior to product "B." What we do give credence to, is what people we know say they like or dislike about something.
There is not one of us that are not involved in marketing and sales. How many times have you recommended a book, movie, television program, restaurant, hair salon, vehicle, dress shop, mechanic, school - the list goes on. Every time you refer a friend to something you enjoyed or discovered was valuable and you rave about its benefits you are marketing. Each time your friends buy the thing you suggested, you make a sale. Or that is, the company with that product just made a sale thanks to you. Now your friends will tell more friends and the sales explode exponentially. That is the power of viral marketing.
Buzz, Buzz, Buzz
Viral marketing is a strategy that creates a buzz. The virus is the marketing message that hops onto the host for a ride to the next receptive listeners. The cycle starts over again with the influence the message has on each new individual and grows through rapid multiplication. In a matter of hours the message can be delivered to millions. Using internet technology to implement a viral marketing campaign can yield results beyond your wildest imagination because you can access a network of billions of individuals and businesses. Because the message is coming from a friend or trusted source it is not considered "spam."
A carefully planned viral marketing strategy provides a message that can be easily shared. The message must contain an element that is so valuable people will want to share it. Not campaign will have the same results so it is important to try different strategies and track your results.
High Impact Viral Marketing Ideas
- Invite your audience to use your articles on their own websites, newsletters, e-books and in their hard copy literature. Provide a resource box at the end of your article with a little information about you and a link back to your website.
- Add an "email this page to a friend" function to the pages on your website.
- Create free software that you encourage your readers to download. Be sure to include your information and links inside the program.
- Add social media bookmarking buttons to your pages that allow people to recommend your site.
- Add a "Tweet This" button to the pages on your website that give your readers the opportunity to tweet about it to their followers.
- Write an e-book and offer advertising space inside the book for people in exchange for them sending it to their list of contacts. Offer an image and link to the e-book so webmasters can add it to their sites. Make sure your contact info and links are clearly indicated on every page.
- Write a regular e-newsletter and send it to your contact list. Include an action statement in the letter such as "forward this to a friend." Add an opt-in field on your website where surfers can sign up for your newsletter.
- Give away free services, such as free email addresses that include a tag at the end of the message advertising your business and a link back to your website.
- Look up questions on Yahoo! Answers that you can answer intelligently with useful information. Include a link to your website.
- Write a humorous short story or joke and send it out to your contact list with a link back to your site.
- Think of a problem that plagues society and come up with a great solution. Post it on your website or send it out to your contact list.
- Leave comments on other peoples' blogs and forums with a link back to your site. Writing your high energy or controversial thoughts will yield a lot of attention.
- Start a topic page on your own website based on popular news and event. Invite readers to write a paragraph or two on the subject. Be sure to publish what they offer.
- Create a page on your site that offers useful tools for a niche market, such as a list of websites with free search engine optimization tools.
- Write a detailed "how to" article and upload it to your website. Make sure the content provides excellent information and valuable tips.
- Put some really amazing photos on your site and add book marking buttons to the page.
- Start a contest with a free giveaway for the winners. You can "up the ante" by giving a reader a free prize every time they tell 2 more people about the contest.
- Make a humorous or unusual video clip and post it on YouTube with a link back to your site.
Make Your Viral Marketing Message Appealing and Accessible
Remember that your message must contain something that is either highly valuable or highly entertaining. This will compel people to share it with their friends and associates. It must be easy to transfer from one person to another. So, your message must be easily forwarded as an email, web page or attachment, as a link to a website or as a simple download. The data cannot be so large that is crashes web and email servers trying to deliver the information. It must appeal to common human motivations and behaviors. In other words, what are peoples' hot buttons? We want to be heard, made to feel important and appreciated. We want to get ahead of the game and feel successful. An efficient viral marketing campaign takes advantage of information networks that already exist, where people are already sharing communications. It uses other people's resources, such as their newsletters and blogs as often as possible. Test it out and analyze the results. Believe it and you will see it! (Please send this page to a friend.)