Thursday, November 30, 2006

Definition of Viral Marketing

Recently I was asked what Viral Marketing means, and the best I could come up with was "When a product markets itself online through link growth via social networks."

Wikipedia definition:
Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce exponential increases in brand awareness, through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of a computer virus. It can often be word-of-mouth delivered and enhanced online; it can harness the network effect of the Internet and can be very useful in reaching a large number of people rapidly.

Great definition. Much better than mine.

The question is, how does one go about creating a viral marketing campaign. The easiest way is to create a product with viral marketing in mind. You have to have something that people want to pass on. Some of the most successful viral marketing campaigns have had viral distribution as part of their product features. Take Linked In for example. You sign up, and then sign up all your friends, and they sign up all their friends, and so on.

Recently, there has been a Will it Blend campaign for a Blendtec blenders. This is a great example of viral marketing of an existing product that was not created with viral marketing in mind. At least I think so. With the early demise of any blender I've ever had, watching the blender blast marbles into dust, makes me want one.

Marketers are going to be jumping on board, blending their product. One of the most recent blends was a Wii Remote. Blendtec doesn't even have to create these videos anymore. People are buying the blender so they can blend stuff and post it on Youtube.

Everybody who works in marketing would love to create a wildly successful viral marketing campaign. What happens when you're working with something that has no obvious viral marketing potential?

For example, if I was selling a boring pair of shoes. They're reliable, and will last a long time. Stuffing a pair of oxfords in a blender and videotaping it isn't going to be very exciting. I could create a wacky commercial like Ikea does and never publicly release it... just stick it up on Youtube and hope it's funny enough to get attention.

My point is, I have a product that I wish to market virally, and have no idea how to market it. Considering I can't "blog" about it, or even mention it in anyway, since I'm not allowed to do so according to my employment agreement.