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Technology is changing the world. As a society, we are inundated with content and advertising from every direction. Consumers are being saturated with advertising, leading to a form of blindness towards it. In the past, bold colours and a catchy headline were all that was needed to capture the attention of a prospective customer. Today, studies have shown that consumers, on average, see upwards of 3,000 adverts a day, making it much more difficult to stand out from the crowd. The marketing world has responded with a new type of marketing to promote products and services – viral marketing.

How technology is changing the world

Technology has changed the way we consume media. The Internet is replacing television, magazines, newspapers and books with readily available written, audio and video content available mere seconds away through a tablet, smartphone or tablet device.

Technology has also changed the way we communicate. Communication used to be difficult, with unwieldy telephones being tethered to landline connections and written mail taking a day or two arrive. Nowadays, email is delivered instantaneously, mobile phones are commonplace and social media websites like Facebook and Twitter make it easier than ever to communicate with friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

Viral campaigns make use of these changes in media consumption and communication to produce marketing campaigns that are spread virally by users.

How does viral marketing work?

Viral campaigns work by creating compelling content that encourages people to tell others about it. This content often carries a marketing message for a product or a service. Viral campaigns, if successful, can lead to the content being spread quickly in a very short amount of time, allowing for maximal exposure with relatively little cost.

The type of content used in a viral campaign can vary wildly. Quirky and strange videos, quizzes, question and answer sessions and even free services can all be spread virally. As long as the content is of a high quality and garners attention while being interesting to users, it can be used in a viral campaign.

How does viral content spread?

When people see something quirky or interesting that captures their interest, they often want to tell others about it; viral campaigns rely on, and encourage, this effect.

Social media marketing makes use of social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, making it easy for content to be spread through these channels. The average Facebook user has 150 friends and the average Twitter user has 200 followers; if a few people Tweet about a piece of content or use the Facebook 'like' button to recommend it to their Facebook friends, hundreds of people will be shown the content and will be encouraged to engage with it. Encouraging people to spread content by using social media marketing is important for any viral campaign.

User driven marketing is similar to social media marketing, but it doesn't rely on the use of social media websites to be carried out, instead preferring 'word of mouth' methods to encourage the spread of content. This can either be through text messages, emails or by encouraging people to talk about a piece of content that engaged them. Encouraging users to spread content through user driven marketing is essential to have a successful viral campaign.

Conclusion

Viral campaigns are changing the face of marketing. The present day consumer is savvier than the consumer of old, and is less likely to take notice of "traditional" advertising. Viral campaigns have been proven to successfully bypass the cynicism shown by todays consumer allowing for a marketing message to be spread affordably and quickly to a wide audience. Brands such as Microsoft and Old Spice have been effectively integrating unique and interesting viral campaigns into their marketing strategies and seeing increased profits as a result.

The time of traditional advertising is over - viral marketing is the future, and it's here now.

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