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What is Viral Marketing?

Viral Marketing (engl. Viral Marketing) is a form of marketing in which a mostly extraordinary advertising message is spread within a very short time – similar to a virus. The persons spreading the message act as voluntary carriers, usually via social media or word of mouth.

  • Low cost because of free distribution
  • Risks involved because not completely controllable
  • The idea counts: creativity beats budget

How Viral Marketing works

Whether via social media, e-mail or simple word of mouth, original advertising messages, combined with mostly positive emotions, can be spread at breakneck speed. People are enthusiastic about a brand or service and recommend it to contacts or friends. If the messages are very successful, they can have a lasting effect for a long time. Some even say that viral marketing is the supreme discipline in online marketing. The extraordinary advertising message is always in the centre of attention and ensures great enthusiasm or identification. The advertising is not only spread very quickly by the target group, but also completely independently. Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook enable easy and fast distribution. It is shared, discussed, commented and recommended. While consumers are less and less aware of the more boring everyday mass advertising, viral advertising is fun and offers entertainment. The “virus” must either be funny or hit the nerve of the time – no easy task. Often such viral messages also polarize, which poses a certain risk. Memes are often a motor of viral marketing. The best target group for viral marketing are consumers who are on the go a lot on the Internet (social media, chats, blogs, forums, YouTube etc.) and are well networked. You cant force it, but: The more defined the target group is, the easier it is to get a viral hit. Influencers are particularly interesting here (see also Influencer Marketing). The distribution of content on the net starts with a seeding source and proceeds in a similar way to the snowball principle. The decisive factor is always whether the respective content is well received and therefore distributed further and further (in the best case exponentially). A critical mass must be achieved for this so that the viral marketing campaign does not fizzle out

The advantages and disadvantages of Viral Marketing

The advantages are obvious: viral marketing is above all cost-effective. Almost all conceivable channels such as social media or video portals are available free of charge. The advertising message can reach countless potential customers. There is a great acceleration through multiplier effects in these social media. A possible success will be much greater than the investment. The prerequisite is always that the right (usually positive) emotions are triggered in consumers. Good campaigns are sustainable and are always in circulation. By recommending and sharing, not only is greater visibility ensured, but also greater trust (social proof). Viral marketing not only has a positive influence on sales, but also on the image of the brand or company. In addition, the number of backlinks and followers is usually also increased considerably. However, there are also some disadvantages. For example, not every content will work or reach the target group. If unexpectedly negative emotions are caused, in the worst case it can also lead to a loss of image. After all, negative news can also spread far and fast. The viral properties of messages include humour, sex, fear and anything else that moves emotionally in any way. In general, success is difficult to predict, one is giving the “rudder” out of ones hand, so to speak. Viral marketing is never completely controllable, as is the speed of distribution. Measuring success can also be difficult and cannot always be clearly quantified

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