Marketing Mantra September Edition – Shortlisted Entry #2 – Sindhuja A.



What is with the buzz word “Viral Marketing”? Any internet advertising or marketing that multiplies exponentially as and when a new user views gets added is known as Viral Marketing. This is done based on the fact that each user interacts with one or more persons to whom it spreads. These techniques use social media and networking sites to increase brand awareness or the cause for which the marketing is carried out. Since it self-replicates as a viral process with each user activity, it is appropriately termed as ‘Viral Marketing’

Andreas Kaplan, Professor of Marketing, ESCP Europe Business school calls upon three factors that are imperative for the success of a good viral marketing: The messenger, the message and the environment. When these factors are critical for any type of marketing, why is that viral marketing occupies a special position in the current modes of advertisements? The answer is simple: People spend more time on social media than print, radio or television. Reaching out to consumers has never been this simple, provided the strategy is right. In that case, let us examine the strategies for a correct execution of Viral Marketing to make a mark in the year 2020.

1. Give a valuable product/service for free
Nothing works like the word “Free”. Initial forms of viral marketing utilized this as the mantra. Classic example is that of, which gave free web-based e-mail services for free. This in turn induced many more users to spread the word across to their friends circle, who started using the service as well.

2. Effortless transfer to others
Why do doctors advise us to stay away from people who have cold or cough? It is because viruses spread easily when they are easy to transmit. Similarly, viral marketing has to be simple, easily transmittable through multiple media and short to hold on the interest.

3. Huge Scalability
Scalability is a must for the success of viral marketing. Many companies start the marketing campaign with little efforts to analyze the scalability. Once again, Hotmail had a scalability problem because once the virality spreads, the company will need enough mail servers for the increased number of users.

4. Leveraging upon common attitudes
Some common attitudes among consumers are to be known as cool, intelligent, a person of elite tastes, and so on. Consumers always go for the products or services that boost their image. Functionality, in 2020, will take a backseat in comparison to hedonic consumption. Capturing such behaviours and designing models that satisfy such consumers will be the need of the hour in 2020.

5. Tapping upon existing networks
According to many social scientists, each person has around 8 to 12 people in their close circle of friends or family. The theory of six degrees of separation also suggests that every sixth person in the world is connected. Rather, they are six or fewer steps of introduction away. Utilizing this set of existing networks becomes essential for a viral marketing campaign to succeed.

The success of Kolaveri Di song and ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are only a case in point. The perfect use of viral marketing made the song and the campaign successful among the viewers/listeners. Every aspect of viral marketing – be it the messenger, the message or the environment have been properly captured these cases.
Especially, what worked with ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was that “It was own-able, unique, iconic and simple” as quoted by Max Lenderman, CEO of the agency school. He adds, “It is highly broadcast-able, yet it is so personal because of the calling-out aspect. Also, what worked here was ‘SLACKTIVISM’: The feel-good factor obtained by doing something that is not hard to do, and yet get a sense of making a contribution.

With increase in importance for Mind Share as a part of Market Share, consolidation may take a backseat. For instance, Pinterest has grown bigger in a very less time than Flickr which was once a preferred choice. Much the same can happen with social relationship management too. This will be a big ground where Viral Marketing can extend its reach.
Democratization of Social Influence
It is expected that by 2019, around 4 billion registered users out of which around 1 billion being serious and active users on the internet will drive the market. This indicates that “Key Influencers” will be around thousands or even millions of people. Democratization of Influence will definitely be the next big step for Viral Marketing.
Re-design of Brand Presence
Businesses will start redesigning their CRM, ERP, and HR Tools to support social web presence. When buyers look for brand presence on the social web, static brand websites will start moving towards online presence. Openness in IT, transactions and communication of messages to the consumer will be the order of the day. This can also reduce time-to-market which is currently outweighing patent protection.

Overall, Viral marketing will create a social revolution of sorts in 2020. Just like how the industrial revolution of the 17th Century modified the way goods were produced, Viral Marketing in 21st Century will give a transition to the way goods and services are sold in 2020.

1. C Long, RCW Wong, Information systems 2014 Elsevier, Viral Marketing for dedicated customers, Volume 46, pp. 1-23
2. Dr.Ralph F Wilson, The six simple principles of Viral marketing, Feb. 2005, Web Marketing today

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