Lately I was asked how I’d market a product at a job interview. I advocated for viral marketing, as I think its the cheapest and nowadays most effective way to make people interested in your product. You just have to put in a bit of creativity and can safe hundreds of dollars / euros you would spend for untargeted commercials otherwise. So I carelessly used the term “viral marketing”. When I was home my girlfriend asked me if this was associated with the swine flu – so I realized this needs some explanation to those who’re not yet on twitter.
Viral Marketing means something related to mouth-to-mouth-marketing. It pictures the spread-of-word with the spreading of a virus from human to human. People talking about your product are called “sneezers”, as infected people that sneeze carry the virus to others. But Viral Marketing doesn’t happen all by itself, you have to give your users a story or another reason to “sneeze” about, as (different to word-of-mouth) you don’t tell everyone about your product and hope they go on telling their friends – you want THEM to speak about your product ALL BY THEMSELVES!
To do this, you need to give them a story to talk about and/or make it easy for them to tell others about your product. Making it easy to talk about your product is the real value of Web 2.0 – a lot of social services that people use to communicate nowadays make automated messages possible, the primary choice of service here is Twitter of course (other services include Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Stumble-Upon…).
(Twitter in a nutshell: You can put 140-messages online, everyone who follows you can read these (like combined RSS-Feeds from everyone they follow) – and you can follow anyone you’re interested in and read their combined messages. In Twitter you can also send direct messages, search the whole Twitter-stream for words that are trending topics or your name or the name of your company for example, or tell people about your new blogpost or your new product – which is why big companies all use Twitter)
Well, this is the theory. In practice, it all doesn’t look that shiny. I’ll continue with what I really think about viral marketing tomorrow.