What’s the Scoop on Viral Marketing?

September 22, 2010

Viral Marketing Works - Sometimes

You know the kind of thing. An amusing cartoon, a game, a puzzle, riotous political humour sent to your mailbox. Maybe on a monday morning. It’s viral marketing, and whilst sometimes it can be associated with ‘just a good laugh’, in reality it has a commercial objective with the intention of getting us to change our minds, buy something or become active in some way.

In the faceless office buildings of Shoreditch, the funkier parts of New York, the media areas of Sydney and many other parts of the world, viral marketing campaigns are devised to influence us and to get us to spend our cash.

Do they work? More importantly do they work in business to business marketing, the focus of this blog? In rare circumstances yes, but it’s a more complex strategy than it first appears.

For one, you’ve got to come up with something really interesting. This is not as easy at it looks, which is why specialists are increasingly establishing themselves in this field; people such as Jonah Peretti of Buzzfeed in NewYork, who is fascinating on the subject. According to Jonah, a critical aspect of making an impact in viral marketing is targeting the ‘Bored at Work Network’, a network which he rightly assets is bigger than the audience of any broadcaster. Fine, but is this the right way to find purchasers of business services? I’m not sure.

I did mention that viral marketing could work in some instances. I think it can potentially work in the games industry, the software industry and in certain situations where you want to break down expectations and deliver an element of surprise. Perhaps to amuse your audience and prove to them that you’re not as stuffy as they thought. One thing’s for sure though, measurement is very important. This isn’t a “chuck it out and see what sticks”. Like any form of marketing, you’ve got to trial your communication, measure and tweak before the next time around. The route that your communication takes will be all important. It’s not just about the big idea – think about how people will read and pass your message on, and don’t ignore the basics like testing the format to make sure that it works on everyone’s machines and mobile media.

So viral media is another option on the table. I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried it in B-2-B marketing and how it’s worked out. Thanks for reading this and have enjoy the rest of the week.