Viral marketing can be defined as a technique that encourages people to pass along a marketing message with the aim to create a potentially exponential growth in the visibility of the message and generates word-of-mouth marketing. This method relies on snowball system distribution that is characterised by a high pass-along rate between individuals. The overall growth is strongly linked to the amount of recipients and the percentage of those who forward the message to a large number of friends.
New media deliver a variety of great technology for viral marketing, given the immense speed a message can be delivered and spread around the globe. Social networks and communities are an especially welcome target for such campaigns, due to their user concentration and information exchange rates.
In the area of B2C this strategy is often applied by start-up businesses in order to create awareness and build their corporate image. However, given the high degree of competition and creativity out there it is very difficult to succeed with such a campaign.
A prime example for the successful viral marketing application is the free web mail service Hotmail, now provided and owned by Microsoft. Each time a message is sent, Hotmail promotes its corporate commercials in the e-mail notes of the user.
Another way of viral marketing was provided by Nike in 2006. They broadcast the football legend Ronaldiño trying on a new pair of trainers and delivering an absolutely fantastic showcase of football tricks. At this time the clip has 27,496,830 views on YouTube and despite how old the video is, there are still discussions going on about it. In my case, the latest post for that video was 32 seconds ago.
Cadbury’s are another organisation that are very successful with their campaigns for “Diary Milk” chocolates which listed as made by “A Glass and a Half Full Productions“. In reality Cadbury’s success is due to London based agency Fallon, who have done an exceptionally great job in marketing the brand. I suppose we all know the clip in which a gorilla hits the drums with such incredible passion with Phil Colins’ song In the Air Tonight (this song has been deleted form the video due to Copyright reasons by the way. Nevertheless, the clip is now available in various other remix versions, implemented by creative non-corporate individuals). The currently new clip of Cadbury’s shows two children with freaky eyebrow moves. Initially broadcasted on TV the clip now enjoys rapid distribution on the World Wide Web and currently has 2,282,533 views.
Not only businesses know the true promise of viral marketing, but also individuals use it in order to increase their success. The British op singer Lily Allen produced a spoof of the Cadbury’s adverts that was shown on Channel 4. It is also posted on YouTube and has currently 587,106 views since the 9th of February 2009 (see video).
The inspirational comedian Judson Laipply hit the mark with promoting his show case “The Evolution of Dance”, an incredible achievement. With reference to Readwriteweb in 2007 his video was the most viewed one on YouTube and in 2008 it still reached the second position. Right now it lists 114,755,890 views. In his context, new media and social networks helped him to make his career worldwide.