Viral Marketing, can you plan it?
Most businesses, even long-time, established ones, are fascinated by the meteoric rise of companies like Instagram and Snapchat, both of whom went from cash-strapped to billion dollar mogul is less than two years. We see companies like these, who have relatively little startup cash and wonder how they could have so quickly and so easily built incredibly profitable businesses in an age where everyone seems to have a startup in the works. I insist that you can plan viral marketing, the problem for marketers is that their isn’t a one size fits all formula, which leads many marketing managers and startup CEO’s to give up on the idea that their business can go viral.
Groupon and Instagram
With so many companies in the startup phase, it can seem difficult to break away from the pack and actually find not only profits, but the kind of name recognition that breeds long-term success. Companies like Groupon and Instagram (and most recently, DollarShaveClub) have benefited from the phenomenon known as viral marketing. Called “viral” or “buzz marketing” because it spreads not unlike the common cold during flu season (quickly, from person to person), many experts in the marketing industry say that it is a fluke, a stroke of luck.
The facts, however, disagree. Take Instagram for example. In order for having an Instagram to make any sense, you needed to know other people who had an Instagram. While it may be useful for following celebrities, the main use of the picture sharing app is to share the filtered pics with your friends. This incentivizes sharing the app and encouraging your friends to sign up for the service. As more and more people sign up, more and more people are encouraged to sign up, spreading like wildfire. The concept is the same for Snapchat, who allows you only to Snapchat with other people who have the app, again, incentivizing you to encourage your friends to download and install it.
Sharing Is Caring
Groupon takes a similar, but slightly different tactic. When you sign up for a specific Groupon, you are only allowed to access it after a certain number of people have pledge to purchase that same Groupon. This means that you are more likely to share it with your friends, asking them to make that same purchase. And while incentivized sharing (either by only allowing users to interact with other people who use your product or by limiting access to your product until a certain number of people have purchased it) is effective and can be effective if your startup is a company that lends itself towards those kinds of tactics, there is a riskier form of viral marketing that, if done correctly, can greatly benefit your company, not only in profits, but also in image.
Low Budget Videos Can Do The Trick
DollarShaveClub has achieved success by creating and releasing what looks to be a low-budget, but very well scripted and performed advertisement video. It hits the sweet spot between informative and funny, and helped DollarShaveClub rake in over ten thousand orders the first weekend the video was available. This kind of funny, quality content can be very useful if you can create it and if you can find tastemakers who will watch and share it. This content becomes buzz marketing as more and more people watch it, are entertained, and want to share it with their friends. While this kind of viral marketing may be more difficult to achieve, it is just as effective and can work for any company that has a sense of humor.
My personal story of Viral Marketing happened when I was looking for a job some years back. I planned to grab the attention of many HR managers in Israel by running AdWords campaigns, based on their names. The ads were with the names of all the big heads of HR and recruiting, in all the big Israeli corporations. The end result was that I got many job offers from startups, an invitation to Google HQ in Israel and lately I heard that professors in the Academic College of Tel-Aviv Yaffo are giving their students A case-study about my job search.
Do you have another Viral Marketing example to share with us? Have any questions? Please leave your comment in the section bellow.