Viral Marketing Techniques

As I mentioned in a previous post, word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is a recent craze for marketers. Viral marketing is one form of WOMM. It specifically uses social networks to increase brand awareness by creating content people naturally want to spread. Wikipedia defines this in more detail and lists a few techniques. As a person wanting to expand your marketing initiatives or simply learn about viral marketing, you may be wondering what the best performing kinds of viral marketing techniques are.

Effective Social Avenues
Based on an article from eMarketer, the following chart lists techniques and marketers’ effectiveness rating per customer focus.

Best Viral Marketing Approaches

Finding Your Customer
Knowing your customer and what social sites they visit on the web is an important element to an effective viral marketing campaign. If your company serves a niche, it’s easier to identify the right blogs or informational sites and receive strong results by simply searching the web and talking to industry professionals. If you serve an interest that is broader or in a market that’s relatively saturated, you’ll have a harder time breaking through the clutter. Getting reviews, interviews, or holding your own webinars announced through industry networks may help grow your exposure and ability to get people talking about what you provide.
Focus on Speak-Worthy Content, First
It takes time, but be patient. The most important element to remember in all this is to focus on creating content that is worth passing around. Without it, any viral campaign you embark on will fail. Content that improves one’s life or career or content that is entertaining speaks best. For some industries, creating this content is easy by the very nature of the products or services. But for others, it’s tough. If you can’t think of appropriate content, don’t waste time on this approach. Choose another. Without relative and speak-worthy content, even if you place it on the perfect social site for your industry, it will die or fizzle away. Start with appropriate, honest, and entertaining content. Then find the best places to post it.
Find the Innovators
Expect the curve to be long—as in months. Sometimes, it’s shorter. Sometimes longer. But the most attractive part of this approach is that you get people to be marketers for you. Find the kind of customers called innovators. They are the very first people to come on board. They’ll be a very small segment, but they will be the ones most willing to speak about your product or service. They are also the most forgiving as you develop your product and message. The entire customer adoption curve can be seen in the image below from Value Based Management.

Going from left to right, each kind of customer is less willing to come on board and is influenced by the people to the left of them. As you engage your viral campaign, you may see your message change as the message passes through each segment. You want it to.
Recommended Material
The information I give here is the very tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more to convey if we had the time. I wish you luck as you delve into these activities. It’s fun, exciting, and inspiring to watch people begin to see how usable and awesome your product is. Massaging this process as it travels from one customer adoption to the next is explained more in Seth Goden’s easy read, Idea Virus. Basic tips on how to build an email viral campaign can be found in an article by EmailLabs, a company focusing on viral research, technology, and consulting.