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Viral Marketing: Secrets and Examples of Successful Advertising

Viral Marketing: Secrets and Examples of Successful Advertising

Of all the epidemics known to humankind, perhaps there is one that can do good. 

Viral marketing is a type of advertising, the essence of which lies in the Distribution of information by the hands of the users themselves. 

In this case, the transmission speed of advertising is so high that it has been compared to a virus.

The term was first mentioned in an article for Harvard Business School by Jeffrey Rayport in 1996; he is the author of the concept.

In this article, we will talk about the secrets of the impact of a viral marketing campaign on people, share successful examples and give some sound advice on how to create such advertising yourself.

Why does viral marketing work?

How Viral Marketing Works

The primary purpose of viral advertising is to catch the consumer’s emotions, cause joy, pity, anger, and intense emotion that encourages them to share information. 

This type of advertising is now more used on the Internet because it is easier and faster to distribute it there: make a repost or exchange links in messengers.

Here are five main factors that make advertising go viral:

  1. Social relevance. With the help of certain information, anyone can form in social networks precisely the image they need. For example, if you post quotes of great people on your page, everyone may think that the user is very well-read.
  2. The effect of the crowd. It’s hard to resist and not post information on the Internet when all your friends have already done it and are actively discussing it.
  3. Emotion. If a picture, video, or news causes strong feelings, this material is sure to share with others.
  4. Benefit. If the information can solve a person’s problem or relieve emotional pain, it spreads very quickly.
  5. Stories you keep waiting for. Someone with storytelling skills can easily intrigue any reader with an exciting text, especially if you lay it out in parts, creating intrigue. If you have trouble writing an interesting text, you can always turn to for help. 

Initially, this type of viral marketing campaign was designed for people who lend themselves to persuasion, but it’s different now. 

It is aimed at the target audience, which further spreads the information received with ease, and all because it is not perceived as advertising.

For information to find its target audience and spread virally, it must perform the following functions:

  • Entertainment. If the advertisement made you laugh, you are sure to find those who will talk about it on a page on a social network.
  • Reminder. Such advertising, like a beacon, makes people think about the product or service, not only during the advertising campaign but also afterwards.
  • Informing. Advertisements act as instructions on how to use the product.
  • Education. New information will be beneficial if it is related to a product already used by the target audience.
  • Sales. Viral marketing can significantly increase the demand for the goods, although sometimes the effect of such advertising has to wait longer than targeting.

Now let’s talk about what technologies of information transmission are used in viral marketing.

Types of viral marketing

What Is Mobile Marketing Guide

So, when the target audience is determined, it is necessary to understand what method of advertising distribution will be effective. 

Depending on this, there are the following types of viral marketing:

  1. Word of mouth. With this type of marketing, you should be more careful because it is easy to start a rumour, but it isn’t easy to correct. Nevertheless, it works well and attracts attention. Have you noticed how before the blockbuster release begins to discuss exciting and unexpected facts about the actors’ lives?
  2. Opinion monitoring. This type of marketing is used in blogs. The goal is to form a positive opinion about the product, which will guide customers.
  3. Provocation. Loud headlines, scandalous news topics always arouse emotions in the target audience, which is the best method of influencing the subconscious: what touched, you want to tell.
  4. Distribution of information for money. The target audience is selected, who distributes the necessary information for a fee. For example, athletes share their opinion on super-comfortable sportswear.
  5. Guerrilla marketing. This is one of the most budget-friendly ways to draw attention to a product. The idea is that advertising is placed on related products. For example, a package of watercolour paints depicts an attractive album for drawing.

Of course, there are more types of viral marketing, but they all share a common goal – as many people as possible should learn about the product.

So why is it so popular now, and what are its pros and cons? Let’s analyse it in the next section.

Advantages and disadvantages of viral marketing

Old Spice Advert

Today, many people refuse the usual radio or TV ads in favour of viral advertising. 

This is due to its advantages:

  • Saves money. The spread of information is based on the user’s interest, and its launch costs pennies compared to advertising on TV, where most of the budget is spent on its rental.
  • It does not cause negative emotions. Few people like it when something is imposed. This is precisely the feeling that traditional advertising evokes. And in the case of viral marketing, the Distribution of advertising occurs on the voluntary desire of the target audience itself, without any prior conviction. Especially appealing is that the information comes to customers through acquaintances, friends, relatives, which further inspires confidence.
  • Practically does not lend itself to the law on advertising and censorship norms. Here, instead, the flip side works: the content will become even more popular if it carries any forbidding information. For example, advertising tobacco and alcohol products are prohibited, but it is possible to play around with this forbidden topic on the Internet.
  • It is not limited in time and long-term. Such advertising works without interruption and lives as long as it arouses interest in the target audience. On average, the life of viral information is 2-3 years. By comparison, the life of advertising on television or radio is determined by the customer, and not always can guess what time it will give the desired result.
  • Quickly distributed. To keep track of customer requests, to understand how to hook them, the rest for you to do consumers.

Because of these advantages, this type of advertising is becoming more and more popular. But despite the advantages of viral marketing, this system has its disadvantages:

  • Lack of control. Do not forget that any virus spreads at high speed, making it very difficult to control it. In this case, it is difficult to predict the reaction of people to advertising and change the course of events if suddenly something goes wrong.
  • The product itself is lost behind the plot of the advertisement. It happens, the marketer is so captivated by the “picture” that they forget about the product, and with it, the customers begin to lose sight of it and, consequently, lose interest.
  • Constant heating up of the audience is required. It is necessary to strengthen the effect on the user and update the information.
  • It is necessary to use other channels of advertising promotion. This is important to do in the first three days of the launch. If the content has not attracted the necessary attention, it means that it is necessary to reconsider the approach to promoting the product.
  • A “spoiled phone” effect is possible. As viral material spreads, it can change beyond recognition.
  • No matter how many advantages and disadvantages viral marketing has, it is worth understanding a vital thing: no information promotion tool will work if the product or service is initially of poor quality or unreasonably overpriced.
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Next, let’s find out what format a viral campaign is distributed in.

Viral Marketing Examples

You encounter viral advertising much more often than you think. 

It is so tightly integrated into our lives that it is no longer perceived as advertising in our usual sense. 

You will see for yourself when you see the most famous examples.

Viral videos

Do you know how many new videos are uploaded to YouTube? That site gets 300 minutes of new material every minute. 

And if you count all the videos in the aggregate that hit the Internet? We think the number would be prohibitive.

High competition and chase for the number of views does their job. For example, Van Damme’s famous somersault, which he performed standing between two trucks, increased Volvo’s sales by 170 million dollars. 

Moreover, this stunt became a popular meme and received many parodies, which, by the way, is also a format of viral marketing. 

You can watch the clip here.

And here is an example when a product user himself took part in creating and distributing viral advertising: firefighter Corey Kalanick’s GoPro camera, which was attached to his helmet, captured the moment of rescuing a kitten. The video has had over 40 million views, which is not surprising: the story touches you to the core. You can watch the video here.

The viral campaign of Old Spice deodorant is something that probably everyone has seen at least once. 

The creators create videos in a humorous style and use an interesting trick: in most cases, advertising this product responds to users’ comments. 

Viral images

Here we are talking not only about images that flicker in social networks but also about outdoor advertising

KFC and McDonald’s mainly use this marketing technique. They use bold slogans in their viral message that you can’t ignore:

Kfc Fck Ad

A typical example of viral advertising is memes and demotivators. A popular “Waiter” or memes depicting celebrities, children, or animals will always attract attention.

Viral text

Non-standard email communication, engaging text for posts, unusual product description – this is what you want to talk about and what you want to share.

Particularly catchy are provocative headlines that are just beckoning to learn more and read the accompanying text in full. Bloggers and journalists most often use this example.

Viral applications

All social media is a viral application. An example of a modern “virus” is Instagram and programs that allow you to put any mask on your face, find out with a photo what the user will be like in his old age, etc.

One of the most popular applications is Prisma, which turns your photo into a work of art based on famous paintings.

Is it realistic to create viral content yourself? Of course, it is! Let’s discover a few secrets of the viral promotion below.

How to create viral advertising?

Oreo Pride Business Advertising Campaign

It is essential to understand that there is no super-effective recipe for viral advertising, which will give one hundred per cent effectiveness. 

You may think about the idea for months, but in the end, the idea, which was born in a minute, will be shot. Do not get upset if it did not work the first time. 

The main thing – to try and do not be afraid to make a mistake, and even better – read a few marketing books beforehand.

Several factors will help your advertising to become famous on the Internet:

  • Engage influencers, experts, bloggers who could talk about your content. Yes, it probably won’t be free for you, but you can reach a larger audience.
  • Simplify the reposting function. If a person likes the material, they’ll want to share it immediately. Tedious registrations or the requirement to follow a link beforehand to retweet information discourages people from doing anything.
  • Publish ads or information of some kind during the activity hours of your target audience. For example, if you need to reach the working population, keep in mind that they are more likely to browse social media on their way to and from work or during their lunch break.
  • Post content from a variety of sources. Don’t limit yourself to one site or only one that will help you get more coverage.
  •  Keep it within limits. It is clear that viral advertising is almost not subject to censorship laws, but we advise you not to go beyond the legal boundaries.

Now let’s break down step by step how to create viral material.

8 steps to creating viral content

Youtube Suggested Video
  1. Formulate the primary goal of content creation.
  2. Decide on the target audience. Who should be interested in the ad?
  3. Decide who will play the role of performer? You can do this on your own or rely on professionals. If you do not have the specific skills required to create ads, it is advisable to turn to contractors.
  4. Calculate the budget. Your costs will depend on the purpose of creating content. If you want to make a powerful advertising campaign, be prepared to invest.
  5. Choose your advertising format based on your target audience. If your content is aimed at young people, keep in mind that they like to watch pictures or short clips.
  6. Write a script, decide what approach you will use: humour, provocation, etc.
  7. Place your advertisement on the Internet. Use a variety of resources, but keep in mind that for each effective format. For example, a picture is better suited for Instagram. Distribute it among your friends, as well as send it to thematic chats and communities.
  8. Summarise the results. Estimate the number of reactions, reposts, and likes, and find out whether the demand for your product has increased.

So, general recommendations were received, and now, to consolidate the effect, let’s look at some tips for creating a viral video.

Tips for creating a viral video

  • Change the angle or background every 10-15 seconds.
  • The video should be short to hold the viewer’s attention.
  • Start the video with intrigue, catch people’s emotions.
  • Keep an eye on the sound, light, and picture. They need to be of high quality. To do this, do not necessarily have professional equipment; a good movie can be shot on the phone at home.
  • Do not be afraid of additional effects. They can enhance the attention to your video.

At first glance, there is nothing complicated. But be prepared that it will require several takes and many rehearsals, especially if you are doing it for the first time.

To summarise

Surely you thought that excellent advertising requires a considerable expenditure, didn’t you! 

The modern world of promotion dictates different rules for us, and often the one who made it at an amateur level, just by getting the direction and format right, wins.

Remember, viral marketing has five main ingredients for success:

  1. Advertising is distributed for free by the users themselves.
  2. The transmission of information should be easy and uncluttered.
  3. The advertisement should touch the consumer’s senses and evoke emotion.
  4. The format of the advertisement should correspond to the promotion channel.
  5. Use as many resources as possible to spread the information.

We hope that this article’s material helped you form a clear picture of what content you would like to create and make it popular through viral marketing.

And if you suddenly encounter a virus in your life, let it be only an advertising one, and we wish you only your own business and nothing else. Good luck!

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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