Order Up! One Viral Marketing with a Side of Cynicism

I spent some time this weekend reading through business plans for a few entrepreneurs. Although the plans were all unique, one word was consistently found in each – viral. Typing it even makes me cringe. Viral has become just another buzzword and it breaks my heart each time.” I once read, Viral marketing is like succeeding in Hollywood; every actor wants to do it, only a few succeed.

So true. There’s no button that we can press to make a video, campaign, picture or a brand “go viral”  and getting an Oscar your first time around isn’t so easy either. So, since I never took a theatre class, I’ll try to take a stab at what makes viral, go viral.

At its core, viral marketing is word-of-mouth marketing. The root of viral marketing is stemmed in our need to connect with people who share a common passion or interest. We all are influenced by our peers and this is the key component to a brand’s success.  This is what leads us to share and share and share. As a key learning from the best viral campaigns, I compiled some of the common elements of viral marketing.

Elements of Viral Marketing

Know the Community: Understand people’s desire to ensure that actions align with what motivates the community.

Evoke emotion: Make it funny, make it light and make it a little unique and unbelievable. These are the things that make videos like the Talking Babies or the Old Spice Guy so contagious.

Give them the tools to share their experience: Offering all users the ability to share the content is essential. At the end of the day, that’s what we want – shares. So, ensure this is in every aspect of your placements. Also, understand their motivations for sharing. Some companies increase their exposure by offering free products. Something to think about.

Allow for personalization: An important component to viral marketing is the “theory of open remix.” This allows users to customize content and play a role. Elf Yourself is a great example of this! Make users feel a part of the experience, and they’re more likely to share it.

Make content easy to find: Creating links and making content easy to find is extremely important in online marketing and for viral marketing, this is even more essential. Optimize content and drive users to your content. Yes, advertising is important.

Seed Your Message: Opinion leaders are essential. In order for word-of-mouth to occur, a group of influential people must start the conversation. These influencers must be a targeted list of passionate people who have a substantial number of fans, friends and followers.

No, there’s no guarantee doing everything in this recipe will lead to automatic success. There is an element of being there at the right time, reaching the right people and resonating in just the perfect way. Did I miss anything? Share it in the comments section.


Posted on April 11, 2011, in Marketing, Professional, Public Relations, social media, Web/Tech. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Congrats on being freshly pressed! This is a good post! It made me check out pop pressed too.

    It’s also blog sharing day! Link your blog or website on our wall!

  2. It seems like the term “viral” is one that has been thrown around a lot lately, in many forums. But despite it’s new popularity there hasn’t seemed to be a good definition for it anywhere in sight. But I think I have found one! Congratulations on a very well designed and professional blog.

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