Understanding Viral Marketing Strategy

Every day, we see several businesses trying to get our attention one way or the other. We can't deny that “marketing messages” have become an integral part of society. 

The advent of new media (via the Internet) has given businesses the chance to channel their advertising methods to be more suitable for emerging trends in consumer behaviour.

In this article, we will be looking at:

  1. What is viral Marketing 
  2. Psychology Behind Viral Marketing
  3. Pros and Cons of Viral Marketing

What is Viral Marketing?

Viral marketing refers to a marketing strategy that relies on networking (word-of-mouth and social networking) to spread a message or product, resulting in large-scale reach with minimal effort.

It’s called “viral” because the message or product is spread quickly and widely with minimal effort. 

One thing to note is this: Audience participation is the foundation for viral marketing.

Viral marketing messages cannot spread or "go viral" without meeting the viewer's sharing threshold. Once this sharing threshold is met, the viewers of the marketing messages will spread the message at a rapid or exponential pace.

Psychology Of Viral Marketing

Why does a marketing message go viral?

Viral marketing relies heavily on principles of Psychology and Sociology to create content that captures people's attention, generates interest, and prompts them to share it with others.

Here are some key psychological factors at play in viral marketing:

  1. Emotional Appeal 

Most viral marketing content often has strong emotional appeal such as joy, surprise, humour, or even anger. Content that triggers emotions tends to be more memorable and shareable because it triggers a response from the audience.

  1. Social Proof 

People are more likely to engage with content that they see others engaging with. This concept is called social proof and it suggests that when individuals see that a piece of content is popular or has been shared extensively, they are more likely to share it as well.

  1. Identity and Self-Expression

Marketing content that allows individuals to express their identity or share something that aligns with their beliefs, values, or interests is often shared more widely. People use viral content as a way to communicate something about themselves to their social circles.

  1. Curiosity Gap

Viral marketing often plays on people’s curiosity by providing partial information or a teaser that piques people's interest and motivates them to learn more or share the content to find out what happens next.

  1. Incentives and Rewards

Offering incentives or rewards for sharing content can increase its virality. This could include discounts, exclusive access, or other benefits for those who share the content with others.

  1. Timing and Relevance

Viral campaigns most of the time capitalize on current happenings, events, trends, or cultural moments. Being timely and relevant increases the chances of the content resonating with a broader audience.

So far, we can see that viral marketing can be a powerful strategy for promoting products, services, or ideas, but it also comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages:

Viral marketing relies heavily on principles of Psychology and Sociology to create content that captures people's attention, generates interest, and prompts them to share it with others.

Here are some key psychological factors at play in viral marketing:

  1. Emotional Appeal 

Most viral marketing content often has strong emotional appeal such as joy, surprise, humour, or even anger. Content that triggers emotions tends to be more memorable and shareable because it triggers a response from the audience.

  1. Social Proof 

People are more likely to engage with content that they see others engaging with. This concept is called social proof and it suggests that when individuals see that a piece of content is popular or has been shared extensively, they are more likely to share it as well.

  1. Identity and Self-Expression

Marketing content that allows individuals to express their identity or share something that aligns with their beliefs, values, or interests is often shared more widely. People use viral content as a way to communicate something about themselves to their social circles.

  1. Curiosity Gap

This marketing strategy often plays on people’s curiosity by providing partial information or a teaser that piques people's interest and motivates them to learn more or share the content to find out what happens next.

  1. Incentives and Rewards

Offering incentives or rewards for sharing content can increase its virality. This could include discounts, exclusive access, or other benefits for those who share the content with others.

  1. Timing and Relevance

Viral campaigns most of the time capitalize on current happenings, events, trends, or cultural moments. Being timely and relevant increases the chances of the content resonating with a broader audience.

So far, we can see that viral marketing can be a powerful strategy for promoting products, services, or ideas, but it also comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Pros and Cons Of Viral Marketing

Pros 

  • Wide Reach: Viral campaigns tend to reach a large audience quickly, especially when people start sharing content across various social media platforms.
  • Cost-Effective: Compared to traditional advertising methods, viral marketing can be more cost-effective because the primary promotion occurs through social shares and word-of-mouth rather than paid promotion.
  • Increased Brand Awareness: Any successful viral campaign can significantly boost brand awareness as they often lead to increased brand visibility and exposure among target audiences.
  • Engagement and Interaction: Viral content encourages engagement and interaction from the audience, fostering a sense of community and dialogue around the promoted content.
  • Potential for Rapid Growth: Viral campaigns can experience rapid growth as they spread organically through social sharing, leading to a snowball effect of increased reach and exposure.
  • Creative Freedom: Viral marketing allows for creativity and innovation, giving marketers the freedom to experiment with unconventional ideas and formats.

Cons 

  • Very Unpredictable: The viral nature of marketing campaigns means that their success is often unpredictable and dependent on external factors such as timing, audience reaction, and other external events.
  • Short-Lived Impact: Viral content most times causes a spike in the attention of the audience but may have a short-lived impact. The only way to avoid this is to have a follow-up with sustained marketing efforts.
  • Risk of Negative Feedback/Comment: Viral campaigns can attract negative comments and reactions, which can spread just as quickly, leading to a potentially damaging brand reputation.
  • Difficult to Replicate: In most cases, it is always very difficult to replicate the success of a viral campaign because most of the factors that lead to virality in the first place are often complex and multifaceted.
  • Limited Control: When a marketing campaign goes viral, it should be noted that there’s limited control over how the viral content is interpreted, shared, or modified by users, which can sometimes lead to unintended consequences for the brand.

Conclusion

Adopting viral marketing can be a powerful tool to increase brand recognition, reach new audiences, and drive sales.

However, understanding the risks involved in adopting viral marketing and developing strategies to reduce the potential for any negative outcomes.

If you need help crafting a marketing strategy that can go viral, book a free discovery session with us.

We will analyze your current marketing processes and help you figure out areas of improvement.

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