Almost any website wants to get more traffic, and viral marketing can be one the fastest and most effective ways to do it. Many marketers believe that this strategy is done only on social-networking sites. Although those sites are one of the places to perform viral marketing campaigns, there are also other ways to do it that can be just as effective.
What is viral marketing?
The easiest way to explain viral marketing is to say that it is a new-age version of word-of-mouth advertising. Viral marketing can be basic things like people talking to one another on social networks, sending emails to other or voting up content. It involves anything where content is being talked about and shared.
What makes viral marketing different from other kinds of marketing is that the consumers will actually do a lot of the work for the advertiser instead of the other way around. The resources of others are the primary focus. The advertiser gets everything started, but it is up to others to continue to pass it along. As more people continue to share something with their friends, and those friends share it with their friends, it creates a massive snowball effect of traffic that leads to the advertiser.
The power of exponential growth can never be overestimated if each user is passing it on to more people in their circles.
Products used in viral marketing
There are many things that are commonly passed around or mass distributed online like videos, software, articles or e-books. Marketers can utilize any of these things as a source of viral marketing traffic. The key is in creating things people want to share and setting everything up to encourage people to pass the content on to others.
The basics for successful viral marketing
The following are some basic principles to follow when creating viral content and campaigns, which will be followed by examples.
- Novelty: Of course, this is easier said than done, but creating something new, useful and novel greatly increases it chances of going viral. Those who have ideas for things they cannot create themselves should outsource them to freelancers.
- Emotional appeal: Often, the most useless things can go viral simply over their emotional appeal. If it is cute, makes people feel good, shocks, angers, laugh, surprised or affects people on some emotional level, its viral abilities will be greatly enhanced.
- Problem solving: Often, what separates normal content and what goes viral is whether or not it solves a problem. Find a problem, thoroughly research it, and present the problem with its solution.
- Offer incentives to share: Contests, ebooks and other giveaways all appeal to that love people have for winning things and are great tools in viral marketing.
- Make it easy to share: Sharing has to be easy or most people are not going to be bothered. In addition, the person sharing should be offered fields to personalize the sharing message in some way so the receiver knows where it is coming from.
- No restrictions: Requiring people to download software, sign in or any other extra steps will probably stop them in their tracks.
- Remember the audience: In places where interaction is possible, such as comments on YouTube videos, participate and mingle with the users.
- Make it downloadable: Part of viral marketing is about surrendering control and giving people full access to download content is important.
- Don’t make it an advertisement: Blatant advertising is not the kind of content that is likely to go viral.
- Make sequels: The popularity of content will often grow with each addition to a series.
- Track and test: To learn and improve methods, there is no getting around the need to track and see what works best.
- Use social networks: To really tap the power of exponential growth that comes with people sharing and voting on content, the various social networking sites are hard to beat. See the advice below as well as social network marketing and social bookmarking and social buzz for more tips on how this is done.
Whatever the method of viral marketing attempted, keep in mind that trying to use this strategy is all about delayed gratification. Be it a simple article or a software product, something will need to be given away, and any rewards will only come in the future. Then, some form of marketing will likely need to be performed to get the ball rolling. Once things get started, there is virtually no control either. However, when it works, the rewards are great.
Viral sweepstakes and giveaway contests
Social networking sites have given rise to a new trend in viral marketing that is extremely effective. Sweepstakes or giveaway contests can be planned and marketed on sites like Facebook. The lure of a free giveaway prize appeals to at least a decent percentage of almost any given group of people, making it a relatively easy way for companies to attract new leads.
What really makes this whole strategy so effective is the way social media sites like Facebook work. When someone clicks on an advertisement or another message about a contest, they will end up visiting the Facebook page of the business or person sponsoring the sweepstakes. This page will initially contain information about the contest and how to enter it.
There are a few different ways that people will conduct these types of viral marketing campaigns, but almost every single one of them on Facebook will require the entrant to Like the business on their own account. After performing this action, the business page on Facebook will then display the actual entry form for the sweepstakes.
The actual action of liking the Facebook page for the business will generally get published on their wall, which may also end up appearing on the wall of their friends. After entering a contest, entrants will typically be encouraged to share the contest with their friends. Many giveaway sweepstakes will even offer extra entries for referring others to enter the contest too.
The end result of this type of viral marketing campaign can be a massive gain of new leads, website visitors, and most likely sales. This can all be achieved with relatively minimal advertising by those conducting the giveaway when the campaign is designed in a way to encourage sharing. Many of these contests can be executed with relatively low costs depending on the prizes being given away.
Viral marketing with ebooks and other products
E-books that are relatively easy and fast to make and offer ways to market a company, product, or website. When this type of viral campaign is done in particular ways, these e-books can even make money while they market for a business at the same time.
Viral marketing with ebooks
The first thing to do is create an e-book or a variety of e-books that cover specific subjects. These books must be useful in some manner without any advertising. The books should be titled to draw attention and not just list the name of a subject, especially since the titles may be indexed by search engines or mixed in with hundreds of other e-book listings.
Once a book is finished, add a few promotions to it at the beginning and end. These promotions will generally include a bit of information along with a link to the site where the product or service can be purchased. Readers should be encouraged to share the book with the friend and to join a newsletter run by the marketer for even more information.
Viral ebook distribution
Next, marketers will want to submit their e-book to a variety of distribution websites. The good news is that this can be done for free with almost all of these sites, although some of the sites may not blatantly advertise that they are accepting new books. In general, any site with its own collection of free e-books is an excellent choice. The owners of these types of sites can often be contacted to offer them a good e-book for free to include on their site or in their distribution package.
Since these books are generally written to be tutorials of some type or simply useful information on a subject, they are often acceptable to be sold. There are numerous sites that allow individuals to sell their own e-books. Many of these sites even have the option to allow the sold e-books to be shared with friends and family.
Some of these sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google, and iTunes can generate a lot of traffic, sales, and exposure for these books. This results in money being made and free marketing on other promotions in the book, which is simply a win-win situation for viral marketers.
Since there are so many different places that e-books can be distributed online, it is important for those conducting a viral marketing campaign to do some research to find sites that are more likely to deal with relational types of books. Unless they get distributed to people that are actually interested in the subject of the book, it can be a waste of time to submit it to a lot of different sites.
Beyond e-books, there are even other types of products that can be used in this same manner. As an example, someone could make a type of free software tool for internet marketers. This tool could then be distributed on a variety of internet marketing and free software download websites and may gain loyal users who will share it with others. This model was used to start many of the most popular internet services in use today.
With the use of sites to include YouTube, videos can provide great exposure at virtually no costs beyond creating the video. There is no guarantee any video that will go viral, but it is certainly worth a try if you have any ideas.