Here’s How Viral Marketing Works and Why

Viral Marketing. Is it Better Than SEO?

by Dave Curtis on 09/27/2010

in Social Media,Viral Marketing

Every once in a while I get a call from a prospective client who wants me to run a viral marketing campaign for their business as if it were something that could be ordered like a hundred blog links or something.

SEO can’t be replaced by Viral Marketing because there are known factors in search engine algorithms that good SEOs have identified that can boost your web site’s position in the SERPs. Thus hiring a good Search Engine Optimizer to churn out immense amounts of work won’t be a wasted effort because improvements in rankings, relevant traffic and sales will occur provided the on page copywriting, offers, benefits, ease of ordering & paying, your company reputation and brand distinctions either beat out anyone else’s offers or are not horribly worse.

Thus good SEO is to a degree, a formula. Trying to use a formula to create a Viral Marketing campaign doesn’t work the same way. Diet Coke and Mentos wouldn’t work now with Mentos & Diet Pepsi. Will it Blend wouldn’t work with a different blender or telephone. It’s been seen before and is now old. You’ve all probably seen the videos below and aren’t even interested in clicking on them any more. That’s ok.

Viral Marketing campaigns are different from SEO because people don’t have algorithms.

For Viral Marketing it’s more like “the right idea at the right time”. In 2010 dragon toys sales heated up due to the two dragon heavy movies “Avatar” and “How to Train Your Dragon”. Hula Hoop has (or did have) it’s own 7 year cycle of rebirth where sales suddenly boom as another generation of children becomes ready to be shown just how much fun it is.

How Viral Marketing Works

That said – Viral can work if a campaign is properly devised with realistic expectations in mind. As long as your company isn’t under the impression that “viral campaign” means unbridled  nation-wide cross-culture popularity then there’s a chance it can work for you.

Going viral is a niche thing – whereas just about everyone drinks Coca Cola, not everyone needs a wheel chair, a microscope slides or whatever else it is you sell or manufacture. Not only that, but unless your product (or service) can be made super entertaining or otherwise spectacular in some fashion, don’t try to push a so-so idea that’s not ready. Going viral in the case of things like wheel chairs and microscope slides means getting your campaign to go niche viral because you don’t have to go total population viral for your campaign to have been measured as a success.

One of the best books I have found on this subject is David Meerman Scott’s “World Wide Rave“. If you’re willing to put some intelligent thought behind implementing a Viral Marketing Campaign (whether you’re a Webmaster/SEO, marketing consultant or business owner) then this is the best book out there at the moment that I know of. Published by Wiley this business book is only a couple of hundred pages long and will leave you demystified about how to harness the power of social media and learn the secrets of why people share things on sites like YouTube, Facebook and blogs in order to build a giant audience.

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