The 3 Pillars of Viral Marketing
Viral marketing, which was spawned by word-of-mouth marketing, has evolved quickly.
First-generation efforts, like the phenomenally successful Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty,” involved new media content that was compelling enough to attract the attention of millions. For every Dove blockbuster, though, thousands of other campaigns have failed to take hold.
Fueled by powerful new technologies, however, second-generation viral marketing is in full swing. This article identifies current technologies that can create campaigns that'll be consistently successful marketing strategies — campaigns that are far richer than simple video sharing — while delivering predictable results.
At its core, true viral marketing uses social network connections to increase brand awareness by spreading brand messages like the latest strain of flu. Viral marketing has achieved tremendous popularity because it can produce dramatic, measurable results. It has the ability to seize consumer attention. Meanwhile, new media and technologies make it easy to pass it on in a heartbeat.
Three pillars on steroids
Like any other marketing campaign, viral marketing rests on three pillars. But with the new principles and supporting technologies of viral marketing, these pillars are on steroids.
- Target your audience. With social media, it’s faster and easier to zero in on consumers who’ll be receptive to your messages. More people post their personal profiles on social networks. This allows brand owners to not only zero in on demographics and geolocation, but also identify and rank affinities within a specific social community — with unprecedented granularity.
- Reach your audience. Analyzing consumers and their affinities is only the first step. Now, marketers quickly can pinpoint influencers — those socially connected and digitally active individuals that other people look to for opinions, advice and image — and entice them to become brand ambassadors.
- Create the right call to action. Viral marketing transcends those vanilla calls to action, such as “Get a rebate when you buy.” If marketers know what their audiences are really into and who they admire and listen to, they can design campaigns that grab consumers’ attention and energize them to share their promotions with others.
With sophisticated, data-driven widgets and in-depth target audience knowledge, marketers can integrate easy-to-access calls to action — register to win, sign up to get this, join a terrific online community and more — that have the potential to go viral fast.
More than compelling content
Messages that truly resonate with consumers can drive a high degree of brand awareness and acceptance. Yet compelling content isn't enough. Practical, simple-to-access technologies drive engagement and participation in marketing campaigns.
These technologies rest on a new and sophisticated level of consumer knowledge, and the ability to reach out to potential buyers and penetrate the marketing noise that bombards them every day. These technologies — and the smart marketers who use them — can transform brand messaging from what was once merely tolerated to something that's now warmly embraced and shared.
Check back next week, when I’ll offer a case study that puts these ideas into practice.
Chase McMichael is founder, CEO, president and chairman of UNBOUND Technologies, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based affinity- and influencer-based viral marketing firm. Reach Chase at firstname.lastname@example.org.