Viral Marketing was introduced as a concept by a guy named Jeffrey Rayport in 1996 but I don’t think Jeff knew what that term would mean nor the levels it would go to in the current digital climate.
The whole concept of Viral Marketing is that a person would suggest a product to another person casually and subtly without the second person knowing they were being marketed to. This person would then perhaps try that product and then recommend it to their friends who may then suggest it to their friends and so on, all the while feeling like an organic process.
Now take that concept and apply it to Facebook. All it takes is for a person to ‘Like’ something. This then appears on their friends’ feed. The average Facebook user has more than 200 friends. These people then pay attention because presumably they trust that persons opinion. They then ‘Like’ it. Someone who is friends with the second person sees it on their feed. They ‘Like’ it….
200 x 200 x 200.
In 3 rounds of likes that original page has reached 8 million people.
The bubonic plague didn’t spread that fast.
The infamous Old Spice ad The Man Your Man Could Smell Like got watched 23 million times in 36 hours. Old Spice then had people comment on the video with the actor from the original ad responding to the comments in character. This utilised entertainment and a personal connection to engage their audience even more, with each response almost guaranteed to be shared innumerable times. By the end of this campaign Old Spice twitter followers increased 2,700% and sales had increased 125%.
Viral is the perfect way to get into your customers heads without them knowing you’re there. It gets your customers to feel like they are connected to you and when combined with the instant feedback and open lines of communication social media enables it is an extraordinarily fast way to build a community around your product.
Viral is THE worldwide word of mouth.