Viral Marketing as a New Form of Advertising for Blogs

The internet has transformed the way companies market their products. Since the World Wide Web started gaining prominence in popular culture at the start of the 21st Century, viral videos have become a notable feature of this medium.

While once it was a natural and organic process for viral videos to become popular, companies and bloggers wanting to market their product have latched on to this lucrative promotional avenue. To understand this new form of marketing and generate greater interest in your blog, let’s go back to basics.

Marketing Explained

In short, marketing is a process used to sell products and services to customers. The aim is to take the concept of a particular offering and display it effectively to the consumer through the four elements of marketing:

• Product
• Price
• Place
• Promotion

The first stage is identifying a product, selecting it and developing it. Once a product has been developed, determining the right price is vital, and companies will take into consideration a number of factors. An appropriate price will be followed by selecting a way for the product to reach the target market. Lastly, a promotional strategy needs to be developed to get a product noticed by those most likely to purchase it, and this is where viral marketing comes in.

New and Unusual Promotional Strategies

While the internet is a major marketing tool for advertisers, technology as a whole is opening up new avenues for promotion in the real world. In America, large companies such as Wal-mart have their own TV networks in-store that can tailor their advertising to specific screens at particular locations and times, creating a more effective advertising tool. There are also digital banners popping up that can change what they’re advertising depending on the location and time of day.

On the internet, a new trend surfacing is what appears at first to be “user-generated” advertising. YouTube is a well-known example where product placement and endorsements are common from recognisable faces. Popular forums are another targeted medium which see “users” creating posts that appear legitimate, but in fact are placed there to advertise a certain product. These avenues of advertising can go on to develop in to a viral campaign and is something bloggers should consider.

The Use of Coupons in Marketing

Another alternative means of viral advertising bloggers are using is coupons as a marketing tool, which are incentives for shopping at a particular place, buying a certain product or using a service. Many websites aggregate coupon codes for users in one convenient place.

Compared to viral marketing, coupon-driven campaigns have been found to be the next best thing in terms of effectiveness; they represent a particular form of advertising that circumvents a lot of the problems faced by marketers targeting other forms of advertising.

It is also one of the most measureable forms of advertising that can be traced accurately for generating valuable data, such as redemption rates in certain locations. On top of this, the tangible draw of a coupon makes it more likely that a potential customer will redeem an offer.

Finally, coupons have been found to consistently reach a more affluent consumer than other forms of promotion, enhancing the scope for profit.

The Essence of Viral Marketing

The last stage to marketing is promotion, and we have seen some alternative ways advertisers have used technology to get noticed in the 21st century. Viral marketing falls into this category of advertising and is used more and more by bloggers.

Viral Marketing is an internet phenomenon that relies on the spread of communications from one internet user to another. If a blogger posts a promotional piece for their blog and it generates a reaction from users, the scope for the growth of this reaction can often be exponential. This is due to the many platforms available for discussion and exchange of information on the internet.

A prime example of a viral piece of advertising that extended from TV to the internet and on to message boards was Volvo’s “Epic Spit” promotion which featured Jean-Claude Van Damme performing a particularly impressive stunt. In this case, the advertisement covered a number of bases designed to maximise word of mouth, and it currently has over 74 million views on YouTube.

The Criteria for a Successful Viral Marketing Campaign

We have covered how a promotional campaign fits in to a marketing strategy, how the face of advertising is changing in a technology-driven world and what viral marketing is. Now, what makes a successful campaign?

There are three areas that are generally considered if a viral marketing strategy is to be successful. The first is the messenger. To get the ball rolling and generate a buzz, three types of messenger need to play an important part: the people “on the pulse,” those with many social connections and marketers who are there to purposefully generate buzz.

The message is the second aspect, and is possibly the most important part of a successful campaign. There is only so much attention that can be drawn to an uninteresting advertisement before it fizzles out, so the message of the campaign has to be in some way interesting and memorable as to generate discussion and sharing.

Lastly, the environment surrounding a campaign must be right. Aspects such as context and timing will made a huge difference in piquing people’s interests.

Pictures provided by: © SMM-Jigsaw-Banner (greyweed/Flickr, CC BY 2.0)


Freelance editor and marketing expert

You may also like...