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Beginners guide to viral marketing

I always think viral marketing sounds a bit sinister, especially when you consider it involves computers, but really it can be an important tool for your business.  Viral marketing is a marketing campaign that spreads like a virus, passed on from user to user because of its unique appeal and originality.

A successful viral marketing campaign will get a huge volume of people to your site and showcase your brand.  Once a successful viral marketing campaign kicks off the results can be spectacular, however learning the tricks involved can be a long process, so this week I’m going to introduce you to the basics of viral marketing.

The Internet has enabled businesses to reach people they never could have targeted before and viral marketing takes that a step further by bringing a marketing campaign into the homes of thousands, sometimes millions of people.  One of the most successful campaigns is the Cadbury Dairy Milk advertising campaign that features a drum-playing gorilla, which was heavily popularised on YouTube and Facebook and not only saw an increase in awareness for Cadbury but also created a new audience for Phil Collins.

To have an effective viral marketing campaign it must be targeted.  It’s no good if your message is reaching people who will never be interested in your product.  Make sure that you develop a piece that will be attractive to the kind of clients you’re interested in attracting.  Work out what will add value to your product at the same time, there is no point creating a campaign that does nothing to help you out, make sure your business name is on there somewhere.

Try and think up something that people in the industry you work in would find interesting or funny enough to pass on.  You want something that is different and people are happy to be associated with, as ultimately you are asking people to put their name with your piece of marketing in order for it to spread. Create content that isn’t a blatant advertisement and carries content people will want to share.

Lastly, it sounds obvious but always create something people can actually open and understand. There’s no point going to all that effort if people can’t actually access your hard work. One of the best ways to get your campaign out there is by using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  If done correctly, viral marketing can be a fun way to get your business’s name out there in a unique way.

So, have you ever used viral marketing? How did it turn out?

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Julian Smith

Julian Smith

Julian Smith is responsible for MYOB’s corporate affairs, government and public relations in Australia and New Zealand and is also New Zealand general manager. The qualified lawyer has spent much of his career at large multinationals in a range of senior legal, sales, marketing and customer management roles. Julian is a regular keynote speaker and business commentator and sits on a number of government and industry boards and advisory panels. Julian can be found on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/JulianTSmith">@JulianTSmith</a> or contacted via email Julian.smith@myob.com

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