Interested in learning more about Internet viral marketing? Michelle Crowe Ritter, owner of E-worc.com Web Design and Sales Consulting, shares her insights about this important and effective promotional strategy in this exclusive LoveToKnow Business interview.
What is Internet viral marketing?
Viral Marketing is a marketing technique that encourages people to pass along your message voluntarily. With current internet based technology, the communication method has taken on many different forms.
Why is viral marketing considered to be such an effective promotional technique?
In this technology age, we've taken "word-of-mouth" to a new level through the use of Social Networks like Facebook and MySpace, text messaging, video, email and clever online campaigns. Word-of-mouth has always been effective but diminishes through time.
People tell others when they like a product or service or have found an offer worth sharing. It's human nature. When a person uses or sees a product or service as a benefit to themselves, they want to share it with people they know. Through online assets, they can now tell more people more quickly as well as deliver more information about the product.
What types of companies can benefit from utilizing Internet viral marketing strategies?
I don't know that there is a company that wouldn't benefit. If so, I can't think of it off hand. Healthcare, retail, communications, fast food, restaurants and many other types of businesses could all benefit from a clever viral marketing campaign.
One of the most interesting viral marketing campaigns I've seen can be found at willitblend.com. Not only have they created a successful campaign, they've gotten other people involved. On their site you will find a collection of videos that are NOT safe to try at home. Click any of the videos to see what the Total Blender can do in their test lab, as they ask the question, Will It Blend?
One of the most wildly successful and completely unintentional campaigns I've been involved in was the Crichton Leprechaun story. This was a news story we produced about a leprechaun sighting. The story broke the week before St. Patrick's Day on our local news site. It was picked up by the networks, then posted on YouTube and people created music videos, movie trailers and MySpace pages. The television station website saw over 800,000 views in two days. Just go to YouTube and search "Crichton Leprechaun". The lead story has had almost 8 million views since it was posted. The television station couldn't buy this kind of exposure.
Small businesses can benefit from the same type while maybe smaller scale exposure. A friend of mine is promoting a local event right now. She posted the event on Facebook and invited her friends. Her friends invited their friends. In less than 24 hours, 50 people confirmed attendance, 91 might attend and 323 are currently awaiting reply. I don't know that the venue will be able to house the attendees. This is an example of viral marketing at its best.
What do you consider to be the "best practices" in viral marketing?
You must provide an intriguing offer. That offer can be humorous, monetarily beneficial, interesting or just plain useful. Free is really good. The offer must be easy to share or transfer to others.
Make sure your message is appropriate for the format you are using. Keep your file sizes small for email campaigns. Limit your graphics for texting. Don't offend with your message unless that is the purpose for your message.
It's important to be prepared for your viral marketing campaign to actually work. You don't want to draw attention to yourself because you've promised something that you never expected to deliver and can't. That will be an entirely new viral campaign that you have no control over.
Are there any things that should be avoided when trying to launch a viral marketing campaign?
Because you have no real control over the campaign once it hits a viral status, make sure the offer is sustainable. Another phrase I've heard is "evergreen" which means to make it sure your message is fresh or interesting no matter when I happen upon it. That way, you can benefit well beyond the time the viral campaign is actually initiated.
What advice do you have for business owners and marketers who want to start doing viral marketing?
Define a viral marketing plan. It should be similar to your traditional effort but not merely an extension of that effort. You can do it yourself or you can find a non-traditional marketing expert who can help you design an effective outline and implement it yourself. Or, you can just hire someone to deliver the campaign for you.
Start by asking and answering the right questions. Who are you trying to reach? What is the message you want to convey? Where will you most likely find the bulk of your potential customers? How can you most effectively communicate your intended message? What is going to make your viral marketing campaign a success?
LoveToKnow would like to thank Michelle Ritter for taking the time to share her expertise with readers and wishes her continued success building her Web design and Internet marketing business.