How To Run A Viral Marketing Campaign

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Viral marketing can be amazingly effective at getting your marketing message across and sites like YouTube have shown that viral marketing can be achieved inexpensively with a short video, yet reached a wide audience. The idea of viral marketing is that people spread the word of their own accord -- it's the ultimate way of promoting your business by word-of-mouth and it can happen with lightning speed if you get it right. So what makes a successful viral marketing campaign?

It's emotional

The thing about viral marketing is that people respond on an emotional level to something. We all know how pictures and videos of cute animals can spread like wildfire and who hasn't had their share of jokes and humorous e-mails on a daily basis? The key to a successful viral marketing campaign is to produce something that is emotionally compelling and something that people want to share with their friends. Make it something cute, something that pulls at the heartstrings, something spectacular or something funny, as long as it rouses an emotional response.

Be subtle

Successful viral marketing is effective but very subtle -- blatant advertising is a real turnoff. Make sure you appeal on an emotional level first and slip your marketing message very subtly into the mix, preferably on a subliminal level. You will of course provide your website address so that people can find you, but be too obvious with your advertising tactics as this will irritate people -- let them come to you because they've enjoyed what they see and want more.

Be unique

You may have noticed that every time there is a viral video on YouTube, there is a rash of copycat videos trying to muscle in on the act. After the second or third time you have seen something similar, the novelty wears off and people become irritated and annoyed with imitators trying to push themselves on the back of somebody else's success. You have to be unique -- be a leader not a follower! Brainstorm on a regular basis to come up with different ways to produce something that could potentially go viral. It could be an e-mail, video or a freebie such as a voucher or a free e-book -- always be on the lookout for ideas and ways you can put together a potentially viral campaign -- just one successful campaign can produce incredible results for very little effort on your part.

Be relevant and compelling

If you are trying to get people to visit your website and buy something, your message has to be relevant if it is going to appeal to potential customers. It also has to be compelling enough to make them want to visit your site -- perhaps further information or a follow-up to your initial campaign. For example, let's say you had a funny video on YouTube, you could have a second, even funnier video on your website, so people will feel compelled to take a look and tell their friends to do the same. While your visitors are there, you should encourage them to sign up for more of the same in the future.

This will take planning and a lot of forethought. It can be quite exciting when you come up with an idea for a viral campaign but do give yourself time to produce a something which will not only get people to look at the first part, perhaps your funny video on YouTube, but also follow through to a second video on your website and sign up to the promise of more -- the whole idea is to get people to sign up and stay on your list, so make sure you think it through very carefully before you begin, then just go for it…

Spread yourself around

Once you have produced a campaign which looks like it could go viral, get your message out to as many people as possible -- use every social media outlet you can find, as this will help spread your message effectively. As a first step, get your message on Facebook, twitter and You Tube as these sites have millions of users and provide the potential you'll need for a viral message.

Keep it going

Once you've started -- don't stop! If you have an initial round of success you have to keep it alive and keep it going. Put together a campaign that will supplement the first -- you should plan all this at the start, rather than create it as an afterthought. If you have a video, perhaps you could have a follow-on showing some funny outtakes or a short documentary on how your video was made -- anything that will sustain interest and keep that message going around. You don't want it to die away, and it will if you don't keep pushing it. If your message goes viral, you really have to make the most of it get and as much mileage out of it as you possibly can.