Viral Marketing Explained


Viral marketing uses pre-existing social networks to increase knowledge and awareness about a particular product or brand, with the goal of achieving more sales or generating leads.  This is accomplished through word of mouth, online video clips, e-books, text messages, images and brandable software. Viral marketing uses a variety of methods to get people to spread the marketing messages to others.


There are six different principles to viral marketing. Taking time to study each of these marketing strategies will help the success of a home business.


Gives Away Products or Services


This incentives people to get sharing with one another. There's nothing better than getting something for free. The "free" item can be anything from an e-book to a free month of the service being marketed, or a special product to use in conjunction with the service. The possibilities are endless, but should be kept within the realm of the budget to ensure the best results. A successful viral marketing campaign will provide a product or service for free.


Makes Spreading the Message to Others Effortless


A successful viral marketing campaign makes it easy to spread the message to others. For instance, YouTube videos all have a "Share" link below them, allowing users who like what they see to quickly and easily share the video on a number of social networks such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. If your message integrates the ability to share it with others using a simple click of a button, it is far more likely to spread than those requiring additional effort from the user.


Easily Scales from Small to Large


All viral marketing campaigns should start on a small scale in case they are not well received by the targeted user group. This way, businesses don't risk losing too much money. However, the viral marketing campaign should easily grow as the number of people paying attention and "spreading the virus" grows. Building the viral marketing campaign around this principle will help it succeed.


Makes Use of Common Behaviors and Motivations


What are some of the common things you do? What motivates you? Many people will answer with something like,  "check my email or talk with friends on MySpace." Several different things motivate us--the desire to be popular, the desire to be wealthy, the desire to be loved--and viral marketing should play on this. If your campaign makes it easy for people to spread the message using things they aleady do (email and MySpace), it has a better chance of success. If your campaign somehow plays on one's desire to become popular, "Hey! I found out about.... before everyone else!" or one's desire to make money, "Hey, the more people I can tell about this, the more money I can earn!," it will likely succeed because no one has to find a way--or reason--to spread the message for you.


Makes Use of Existing Social Networks


Social networks are all the rage on the Internet, so place the starting points of your "virus" in popular social networking communities where you know your audience is already talking. Don't assume the target audience hangs out in one place over the other, and don't place all efforts in one network. Market research should indicate the preferred social network the target audience. Consider Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to help spread the message. Start your message with a group of people on each of the networks, and watch it spread like wildfire.


Makes Use of Others' Resources


Viral marketing campaigns make use of affiliate programs, article marketing and website advertisements to get the ball rolling. Offer an affiliate program so people can earn money for spreading your message, and submit articles related to your product or service to various article directories. Network with others to ensure yours gets out to thousands of people.

The most successful viral marketing campaigns for home businesses combine all of these elements. Planning how to accomplish all six elements before launching any sort of marketing strategies will ensure people get the most results from the campaigns.

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