Dear Visitor - Should we use viral marketing? Viral marketing is the concept of getting your target market to do the marketing for you. In the "olden days," we used to call this "word of mouth marketing". But, hey ho, why use a term that everyone understands when you can make it seem much fancier with a new moniker?
If you do a good job for someone or produce a high-quality product, your purchasers want to talk about it. That's due to a psychological effect on our sense of self. We constantly seek feedback on our self-image so that we can be certain of our individuality. So, when we have bought something that is good or opted for what we think is an excellent service we like to share that in a bid to get feedback from others around us saying things like "that sounds great" or "tell me more". We share our good purchasing experiences so that we get positive feedback about ourselves.
In doing so, we also create another psychological effect, "social proof". When someone we like and respect buys something, we are more likely to make a similar purchase as that proves we are like them. We want to feel we are like our friends and contacts as that too helps our self-identity. As a result, if we share our purchases with other people who like us, they become more likely to make the same purchases.
The modern concept of viral marketing, however, has extended this idea to something that does not quite work. Viral marketing goes like this. You produce something great that other people want to share. For instance, you have a witty and uplifting video about how your customers can benefit from what you provide. That video is so enticing people want to share it on their social networks. Then, the people who see the shared video also like it and think it is fantastic and they share it as well, and so on. The result is that your video can be seen by millions of people all within the space of a few days.
This results in much back-slapping and cheers of "well done team" inside offices up and down the land. However, quick reminder, business is about making profits not getting high numbers of views for online content. Just thought I'd say.....
The problem with modern viral marketing is that it has become an exercise in itself. Companies spend lots of time and money on creating stunning content that gets shared by millions. Then they look at league tables of content and realise they are not doing as well as the competition and set about spending more time and more money creating more "viral content".
However, as more and more people share such content so the psychological impact gets reduced. The effect of social proof is lessened because the people sharing it are not necessarily purchasers of the product or service - they just like the video, for instance. As a result, businesses are spending great amounts of cash and effort on viral content production that has little effect other than getting numbers of viewers.
So, I think we should go back to basics. Let's think about what a real viral piece of marketing might be. If I were to buy one of your products and I shared that with my friends and some of them bought the same product who shared it with their friends who bought the same product and so forth, that's viral marketing. That provides social proof and boosts the sense of self too, making the original purchasers confident they have bought the right thing.
And how does all that happen? Well, it comes back to something I keep talking about - concentrating on producing high-quality products and services. If you spend more of your time on building brilliant things that people just want to buy, the real viral marketing will take care of itself. But if you spend a lot of your time on producing viral content then you cannot devote so much of your resources to your products and services. You end up winning awards for great "marketing", but probably also gaining an appointment with the bank manager to explain your lack of profits.
Now, don't misunderstand me, viral marketing can help. But it depends first on producing high-quality products and services and having brilliant customer service to boot. Do all of that and then viral marketing can help you grow your business.