Successful viral marketing uses word of mouth marketing via social networks to distribute a marketing message. This process is self-replicating, similar to the spread of human viruses or computer viruses.
Social media makes it possible to quickly distribute content from one person to another. As a result, the quest for successful viral marketing appears to be a a GREAT way to get “free” marketing. A successful viral marketing campaign can create enough “buzz” to elevate your marketing to new levels. It’s word of mouth advertising on steroids.
Before you embark upon your quest to create a viral marketing campaign, you should know this. There’s a dark side to word of mouth marketing, as well as viral marketing.
In Beyond the Niche,
Word of mouth advertising is powerful: there’s no doubt about it. However, word of mouth is, by design, out of your control. If, perchance, your product or service doesn’t live up to its promise, word of mouth can turn from your business’ best friend to its worst enemy.
Unfortunately, it’s often unsatisfied customer who are passionate to spread the word.
Today a single dissatisfied customer can post their complaint online and reach hundreds if not millions of people. The average Facebook user has 338 friends, but that’s small potatoes for a creative content creator. A dissatisfied customer with the gift of storytelling or song can tell literally millions of people about your terrible product/service if their effort is entertaining enough to go viral.
The Truth About Viral Marketing
Every marketer dreams of creating successful viral marketing campaign. However, back in 2008, Naomi Dunford was introduced to the dark side of viral marketing campaign.
I love Naomi’s blog. She’s wickedly clever and a GREAT blogger. She uses her blog expertly to gain trust with her readers.
As a regular reader of the Itty Biz blog, I feel like I know Naomi. So when Naomi was mentioned in 10 Innovative Blog Business Models, I cringed.
If your eBook is expensive then it’s highly likely a potential buyer will think about the purchase for several days and talk themselves out of it. By creating scarcity you can motivate potential buyers to action.
Though there are many blogs funneling into an eBook, I chose IttyBiz as an example because of the clever use of artificial scarcity as a marketing tool. (Though if you emailed Naomi, I bet she’d still sell you a copy!)
The author obviously didn’t know the whole story. In typical internet fashion, knowing the whole story didn’t stop someone from offering their opinion.
The Problem with Viral Marketing
This illustrates a pervasive “problem” with word of mouth advertising and viral marketing: you’re no longer in control of the message.
In Naomi’s case, her original “expensive” SEO Ninja e-book included unlimited support. SEO consultation costs hundreds of dollars an hour. She was offering an “added value” equal to of thousands of dollars with each sale. Unfortunately, providing unlimited support to the mob of customers who responded to her offer was overwhelming. Naomi “fixed” this problem by offering limited copies of her e-book.
The original offer was a viral marketing success. She made an irresistible offer. As a result, word of mouth advertising caused sales to skyrocket. That’s when she discovered the dark side of viral marketing and word of mouth advertising. She lost control of her message.
For Naomi’s regular readers, she’s done a great job of building trust through her blog. However, because of viral marketing, she lost control of her message.