The internet has grown over the years from a US military secret to what it is right now. This, knowingly or unknowingly, has also led to the growth of internet-marketing. This form of marketing has proved to be one of the most effective. Awareness about the product is being spread much faster and in a more cost effective manner.
When we talk about internet marketing, it is quite common for people to mention the term ‘viral marketing’. Viral marketing is “a marketing technique whereby information about a company’s goods or services is passed electronically from one internet user to another”. It is basically an electronic form of ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising. Since it is fairly synonymous to the actions of a computer virus, the reason behind the term ‘viral’ is ambiguous.
What do you have to do make something viral? Basically you need to get the target market’s complete attention. Making sequels in case of video ads, show some form of odd talent etc. Basically you need to blow people’s mind to make them talk about it or else they would just be like “even I can do this!”. Yet again, consumer is King! The consumer’s word prevails and is the only thing which matters.
Another characteristic of viral marketing is that it is very unpredictable. In case of a normal ad, you know what your target market is so you just post your ad accordingly. But in viral marketing, you don’t know what is going to happen. You don’t know who is going to learn about your product. Thus, it becomes extremely vital to do proper research because your product’s demand is suddenly going to catapult to crazy heights and you need to be ready to tackle the demand.
Viral marketing keeps you engaged. You need to put a proper campaign. You either win or you lose shamefully. It’s only the extremes. So, you need to know what the consumer wants and just blow their mind with your idea. One clear example is Hotmail. Hotmail is one of the classic examples of viral marketing. They offered free e-mail to the masses, and simply attached a signature at the bottom of each e-mail message that promoted their free service. Every single e-mail sent by a Hotmail user contained this message, thus spreading it like a virus.
So, that brings me to another point. These are not that long-lasting. Almost everybody forgot about Hotmail now! So, we need to keep the demand in check. We need to keep the consumers expecting something at all points of time.
The definition for viral marketing: ‘Why this kolaveri?’. This song had every single characteristic a viral marketing campaign had. People from all over the world began dancing to it and covering it without even what ‘kolaveri’ meant! Most of the people didn’t even know which movie it was from during the initial stage. The only thing they knew: Rajinikanth’s son in law sang it, some Indian language etc.
Now after the ‘kolaveri fever’, no one knows what’s going to happen next. It was very sudden. On a similar note, another marketing strategy which is coming up is s-marketing or social marketing. Still in its infant stage, it is expected to come up with flying colours, anytime.
But still, my opinion coincides with this statement given by INSEAD Assistant Professor of Marketing, Andrew Stephen - “You don’t need experts or brand evangelists. You need social people who like to talk.”