Viral marketing, viral advertising, or marketing buzz are buzzwords referring to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks and other technologies to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of viruses or computer viruses (cf. internet memes and memetics). It can be delivered by word of mouth or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet and mobile networks. Viral marketing may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, text messages, email messages, or web pages.The theory behind the value of Internet viral marketing is that the message can be received by exponential numbers of potential customers. For example, if I forward your message to 10 friends and each of those 10 friends forwards the message to 10 other friends, the message could spread very rapidly.
Google’s YouTube is probably the best example of Internet viral marketing. If a video is very funny, unusual or provokes certain emotions, it’s likely that the video will become popular quickly. Links to the video will quickly multiply as viewers share the video with others. Many may even decide to embed the video (if permitted) in various places on the Internet, drawing even more attention.
Getting the attention of the masses is not as easy as it used to be, but it can certainly still be done. The other factor to consider with viral marketing is its ability to actually increase your sales. Many campaigns that do “go viral” may attract a huge amount of attention and website traffic but generate very little in the way of sales. Google’s YouTube video service is important for Internet viral marketing today.