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A Contemporary Project Report On VIRAL MARKETING: Pitfall Or Windfall

Submitted In Partial Fulfillment for The Award of Degree of Master of Business Administration

Submitted By:
Mohita Nair MBA Part 1

Submitted To:
Prof. N. S. KOTHARI Faculty of Management


Geographical and political boundaries have always been a source of challenge for marketers trying to reach a diverse and dispersed target market. However revolutionary transformation in communication technology in the form of the Internet has solved this problem to a considerable extent. The world has become smaller and the barriers to communication have been vastly reduced. Tremendous marketing opportunities have arisen as a result of easier communication flow. A major solution has been the access to Word of Mouth or Viral Marketing. Referrals are always considered as most reliable by consumers. This is something for which we all are ready to lower our guards. And people willingly talk about the product or service they have experienced personally. That is why it is said that people are the new media. Though we are quite accustomed to traditional marketing media, we still welcome recommendations from friends and others, for making a decision about a particular brand or product to be bought. PepsiCo is one company that began experimenting with viral marketing quite early in 1996. Viral marketing in simpler terms refer to marketing techniques that utilizes pre-existing social networks to create brand awareness or to accomplish marketing oriented goals through self-reproducing viral procedures, corresponding to the extension of computer viruses.

To carry out this report I got the help from my faculties who have given full support to carry out this project work. They are the one who motivated and helped me for the completion of this project report. Further, I would like to thank Prof.N.S.Kothari and their guidance that has full supported and co operated with me to carry out this project work. Then I would like to thank Ms. Savita Panwar and Ms. Gunjan Kotwani who has supported and motivated me for the fulfillment of this project report.

Executive Summary
As a marketer you can learn the art of getting into the mind of your consumer and staying there from viruses. Viruses find a way into the host under the guise of another; they spread rapidly and grow exponentially. If you can employ this viral strategy to your marketing initiative, no one can stop you from growing. What is viral marketing?

Viral marketing is a marketing technique, which uses pre-existing social network to spread a marketing message, creating the scope for exponential growth by the exposure of the message. In a laymans term it is buzz marketing or word-of-mouth spread online. The classic example Not that there are no other examples of viral marketing but the Hotmail, Microsofts free web-based email service, is a classic example. By adding a simple message to the footer of every email sent out by Hotmail users Hotmail rapidly gained widespread brand awareness amongst Internet users. The message spread like a virus and people signed up like crazy, taking the number of Hotmail users to millions. The cost incurred per subscriber was very-very low. This viral marketing was a key factor in Hotmail becoming the market leader despite significant expenditure on conventional marketing methods by rival services. An example of viral marketing in India can be Monster India or Naukri. Through their resume writing service they acted as a guide to their users and entered their minds unconsciously.

An important feature Viral marketing concentrates on brand awareness. It does not recommend a specific product or service. How is it useful for SMEs? Viral marketing

Incurs low cost Involves low risk Has potential to produce quick result

These features are exactly what small and medium businesses want? How to do it Through Social Networking Sites Havent your predecessors told you that you are blessed to be born in the age of the Internet? Sharing message is the key purpose of users of social networking sites. Use at your pre-existing resource. Create a fan page, a community or a group; connect with those, who you think will be interested in the buzz.

Videos The power of videos in another resource you can exploit. Interesting; humorous or controversial; videos are shared like anything and thus spread like wild fire. Content Useful content for the industry that you operate in will attract readership and thus spread your buzz. It will be passed on generously and spread awareness about your company.

Points to take care of Select a TG; let them spread the message This depends on who will be interested in your product or service. Not just that but also the media and other opinion leaders. Local users are also important if the buss is specific to a geographical area. Your viral efforts will be successful only if your TG group spreads it and not you. People should be convinced that no one is masterminding the effort. Options like Send to a friend or Forward are easy and popular ways to do so. Study the information flow How do your customers get information? Whose opinion do they trust? Which medium do they rely on? Take into account all the aspects related to the flow of information, its direction and every element involved in the process.

Frame your message It should be clear and concise message, highlighting the benefits of your product or service. If you fail to define the message clearly it might not be effective and might boomerang. Your message should appeal to your audience. The most appealing things are humor, and something that saves time and money. Tap various channels A buzz can be created effectively only when it is put through various channels. For example, if online might be the preferred medium, offline should also have the message it shouldnt be completely ignored. Be prepared for a response As soon as the buzz spreads your TG will star responding. Delay of any sort in addressing their queries might create a negative buzz. So brace your team up for responding even before you spread the buzz. Now, all you have to think of is what buzz to spread? Remember, a unique buzz, spread in a unique way can take you to great heights. So why not wear your thinking hat?

Preface Acknowledgement Executive summary Viral Marketing: An Overview Introduction Virus for marketing Methods Reasons for the popularity of viral marketing Viral marketing India Types Of Viral Marketing Viral Marketing Ideas Six Simple Principles Of Viral Marketing Tools Of Viral Marketing Techniques Of Viral Marketing Viral Marketing Pitfall Or Windfall Viral Marketing Advantages Making The Virus Prolific Word f Mouth: The Most Trusted Form Of Communication Conclusion Recommendation Bibliography

Viral Marketing: An Overview

The term viral advertising or viral marketing is based on the thought that people will share and pass on the interesting and compelling content in their social network. The market strategy is often backed by a brand that intends to create awareness of a product or service in consumers mind. It can be enhanced either by Internet networking or can be delivered by word-of-mouth. Viral marketing is an effective marketing strategy for encouraging people to voluntarily pass along a marketing message. Viral promotion tools may include video clips, flash games, ebooks, brandable software, text messages or images. In December 1996, the term viral marketing was first initiated by Jeffery Rayport,(Harvard Business School professor) in his article on The virus of Marketing for Fast Company.

Furthermore, Steve Juvertson and Tim Draper popularized Viral marketing in 1997 to depict Hotmails email practice of complementary advertising in the forthcoming mail from their users. Viral marketing have received a lot of popularity today. The prime reason for this is that it is an easier and cost effective method to execute marketing campaign. It brings about good targeting and a quick response rate. The effectiveness of viral marketing lies in its ability to facilitate a large number of people at a relatively low cost. The difficult task for any company or business is to create a potential and promising customer base. By the means of e-mail advertising, the business to consumer attempt has a superior impact than many other marketing tools. An effective viral marketing campaign can be materialized through social networks and online community like digg or ma.gnolia. With the help of information provided on

these social networks, you can establish your market needs and wants. The viral marketing campaigns that encourages recipient to forward these promotional mails or messages in their social network, have gathered both positive and negative evaluation from the consumers and industry analysts.

Virus for Marketing

Yes! Its a virus that helps in spreading marketing messages. But how can a virus help in marketing? Isnt it sounding strange? Actually, viral marketing is a designed marketing strategy that encourages a receiver to spread the message about a company/product or service to many others. The main purpose of this strategy is to multiply the number of receivers of a message about a product or service and influence them to act in a desired manner. So it works like a virus that helps to spread the message to many others in no time. Marketing experts mainly talk about two types of viral marketing techniques-offline and online. In general, word of mouth technique of spreading the marketing message is an offline viral marketing technique. In case of online viral marketing, the marketing experts utilize mainly the pre-existing social media to increase brand visibility and awareness to achieve predefined marketing objectives. Viral marketing helps in breaking barriers in the process of advertising and assists in developing a relationship between the brands and its customers. Being a new concept, viral marketing is not considered a powerful technique of marketing by all. Many of them allocate only a small budget to viral marketing in an attempt to engage the audience through the word of mouth. Actually, viral marketing is a very useful marketing technique to catch the attention of the target audiences, who have become immune to the traditional modes of advertising due to the constant exposure to large number of commercials every day. As this technique spreads the intended message with minimal budget and produces maximum effect, it is one of the most time and cost-efficient techniques of communication. Technically, the viral marketing process is executed with help of a self-replicating virus. The process is similar to the process of exponential growth of a biological virus in the human body or computer virus created through programming. Viral marketing techniques generally include text messages, advergames, flash-based application, images, video clips, etc.


Internet search engines & blogs Target marketing Web services Social media interconnectivity Industry-specific organization contributions Television & radio Multiple forms of print and direct marketing Search engine optimization (SEO) web development Customer participation & polling services Outbound/inbound call center services Mobile Smartphone integration

In truth, viral marketing is nothing new. Its simply a form of motivated word of mouth that works offline as well as online. You encourage your customers to do the legwork for you by motivating them with:

Really valuable service or content (natural word of mouth) Bribery (in the form of contests or kickback schemes) The prestige of being associated with your brand Entertainment (animations, postcards, etc.)

Examples of viral marketing are on the rise. offers "personal recommendation marketing" where individuals can earn incentives by recommending web sites to others. There are three

reasons for the popularity of viral marketing today.

1. Entire social networks have migrated to the web. A large proportion of everyone's friends and family members are now online or soon will be. 2. Contacting individuals on the web is virtually cost-free. It is possible for one individual to contact hundreds in one day who can contact hundreds more, etc. Pyramids can be built in a day, not years. 3. The network effect plays an important role: As more people sign up, they can contact many more, and soon the total number rises exponentially.

Viral Marketing India:

In India social networking is a relatively new concept due to obvious reasons: low penetration of PCs and laptops and patchy broadband connections. What that means is that while people were aware of these social networking groups and applications they had limited means to access them. However in the last four years the social networking landscape has changed quite a bit in India. In a relatively short period of time certain social networking sites like Orkut and Fropper appear to have taken off, and new ones like LinkedIn and Facebook are beginning to find traction among Indian users. What is driving this traction is still unclear. Is it the novelty of being able to network with people? Or, is there a genuine interest driving this adoption?

Types of Viral Marketing

Depending on the techniques and the content used in the viral message, marketing pundits broadly divide viral marketing into the following categories:

Pass-along: In this technique, the receivers pass on the viral message to others with a promise of benefit. Undercover: As the name suggests, it is an unusual type of message, activity or piece of information that enthralls the receivers. Gossip: It generally contains a message which creates a controversy. User-managed database: In this category of viral message, the database is created or the database received from online service providers are managed by users. Value Viral: People share quality experiences with others. Vile Viral: People warn others of negative experiences.

Viral Marketing Ideas How to Make a Concept Catch on Like Wildfire

Anytime someone puts a creative project on the internet, the hope is that it will go viral. Theres the hope that it will get forwarded from friend to friend, that people will catch word of it and that it will shoot the creator to instant fame. When the creator is an advertiser and the project is related to viral internet marketing, this is almost doubly true. For an advertiser, whats at risk is a widened customer base, positive buzz, and most importantly, cold, hard cash. Its important to get the most return for an economy of effort. This is why the brass ring in every advertising campaign is a viral movement from the grassroots internet community. Probably the most popular medium in which advertising has gone viral is as viral video. One of the most common uses of the internet is to find entertainment, which is offered aplenty online. Whether the video is funny, shocking, or touching, many amateur videos have gone viral because they struck a chord with a lot of people. The key to an effective internet marketing video is to keep it short and focused. If a video is too long, it could become tedious to watch. A good video should be no longer than thirty seconds to one minute in order to hold the viewers attention.

Notable viral video sites

Barely Political Fail Blog

Funny or Die Google Video JibJab LiveLeak Metacafe YouTube

And since the purpose is ultimately internet marketing, it should have a clear message or point clearly to the product that its meant to promote. But the video and the product should fit well together. The only exception to this rule is if humor is being used to drive the video. In this case, random ideas or jarring juxtapositions can actually work in your favor. In any case, decide ahead of time what kind of impact you want this advertising campaign to have and focus on how to achieve that impact in an engaging and entertaining way. One of the best internet marketing strategies is to host a contest. You can combine a contest with the idea of viral video to create the perfect storm of viral marketing: a viral video contest. You can let your audience do your work for you by asking them to submit their video ads. You can either choose a winner or simply narrow down the choices and let your audience vote on a winner. Either way, this is a solid way to generate buzz about your product.

The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing

Some viral marketing strategies work better than others, and few works as well as the simple strategy. But below are the six basic elements you hope to include in your strategy. A viral marketing strategy need not contain ALL these elements, but the more elements it embraces, the more powerful the results are likely to be. An effective viral marketing strategy: 1. Gives away valuable products or services "Free" is the most powerful word in a marketer's vocabulary. Most viral marketing programs give away valuable products or services to attract attention. Free e-mail services, free information, free "cool" buttons, free software programs that perform powerful functions but not as much as you get in the "pro" version. "Cheap" or "inexpensive" may generate a wave of interest, but "free" will usually do it much faster. Viral marketers practice delayed gratification. They may not profit today, or tomorrow, but if they can generate a groundswell of interest from something free, they know they will profit "soon and for the rest of their lives". Patience, my friends. Free attracts eyeballs. Eyeballs then see other desirable things that you are selling, and, presto! You earn money. Eyeballs bring valuable e-mail addresses, advertising revenue, and ecommerce sales opportunities. Give away something, sell something.
2. Provides

for effortless transfer to others

Public health nurses offer sage advice at flu season: stay away from people who cough, wash your hands often, and don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Viruses only spread when they're easy to transmit. The medium that carries your marketing message must be easy to transfer and replicate: e-mail, website, graphic, software download. Viral marketing works famously on the Internet because instant communication has become so easy and inexpensive. Digital format make copying simple. From a marketing standpoint, you must simplify your marketing message so it can be transmitted easily and without degradation. Short is better. The classic is: "Get your private, free email at" The message is compelling, compressed, and copied at the bottom of every free e-mail message. 3. Scales easily from small to very large To spread like wildfire the transmission method must be rapidly scalable from small to very large. The weakness of the Hotmail model is that a free e-mail service requires its

own mail servers to transmit the message. If the strategy is wildly successful, mail servers must be added very quickly or the rapid growth will bog down and die. If the virus multiplies only to kill the host before spreading, nothing is accomplished. So long as you have planned ahead of time how you can add mail servers rapidly you're okay. You must build in scalability to your viral model. 4. Exploits common motivations and behaviors Clever viral marketing plans take advantage of common human motivations. What proliferated "Netscape Now" buttons in the early days of the Web? The desire to be cool. Greed drives people. So does the hunger to be popular, loved, and understood. The resulting urge to communicate produces millions of websites and billions of e-mail messages. Design a marketing strategy that builds on common motivations and behaviors for its transmission, and you have a winner. 5. Utilizes existing communication networks Most people are social. Nerdy, basement-dwelling computer science grad students are the exception. Social scientists tell us that each person has a network of 8 to 12 people in their close network of friends, family, and associates. A person's broader network may consist of scores, hundreds, or thousands of people, depending upon her position in society. A waitress, for example, may communicate regularly with hundreds of customers in a given week. Network marketers have long understood the power of these human networks, both the strong, close networks as well as the weaker networked relationships. People on the Internet develop networks of relationships, too. They collect e-mail addresses and favorite website URLs. Affiliate programs exploit such networks, as do permission e-mail lists. Learn to place your message into existing communications between people, and you rapidly multiply its dispersion. 6. Takes advantage of others' resources The most creative viral marketing plans use others' resources to get the word out. Affiliate programs, for example, place text or graphic links on others' websites. Authors, who give away free articles, seek to position their articles on others' webpages. A news release can be picked up by hundreds of periodicals and form the basis of articles seen by hundreds of thousands of readers. Now someone else's newsprint or webpage is relaying your marketing message. Someone else's resources are depleted rather than your own.

Viral Marketing Tools

Below mentioned are some viral marketing tricks that can work effectively for your business needs. Offer an incentive Viral marketing works effectively when a valuable incentive is offered that encourages people to forward the promotional email in their network. However, the incentive should be limited to a specific quantity to keep away from spam. Vague incentives, such as 10$ credit for every 10 friends referred, can result in any sort of financial or privacyrelated problems. Give free stuff It is universal and true that people love receiving free stuff. Free products and services help in attracting people towards your package. This in turn will give you positive feedback. Figure out the best way in which you can give away free stuff to consumers. Keep it easy The practice of giving away incentives or free gifts to individuals should be simple and easy. If your process is lengthy and time consuming, they would not be interested in all the hassle. A large fraction of Internet viewers look for work and a lot of companies have firewall that does not allow downloading from unidentified sources. Make sure your free gifts are easily approachable and allocate negligible limitations. Keep it Interesting If you really want people to get fascinated in your product, then you need to offer them interesting stuff. Give something that can be useful and beneficial for them. Do not waste your time in giving away nonsense and worthless stuff. Analyze what people are looking for and present accordingly for a successful viral marketing campaign. Create Your Own Blog Once you free services have been established and communicated; it is the time to keep people involved. Start by creating your own blog where you can talk about all the new and interesting things taking place in your company. Blogging is an effective way of keeping your viewers interested in your site. Keep yourself involved to sustain the impulse of your viral marketing campaign. An effective viral campaign gets promoted because consumers are bound to do so by the brilliance of the content and not because you induced them with points. Here are few campaigns that were successful in creating a true viral marketing strategy:

Peerflix Paparazzi
It is an excellent example of intercepting into the viral power of celebrities to create your own traffic, online buzz and eventually brand. Within 3 months after the launch, almost two million visitors played the game nearly twice and additional 5% visitors traveled beyond to visit the brands site.

The Quantum IT Challenge

This business-to-business (B2B) campaign targeted IT professionals, where each respondent was tracked by their game play. Each players achievement at a reasonably tough game gave them the reserved data to decide which lead should be tagged along first and which could be suspended for a while.

7 Viral Marketing Techniques

Viral marketing as a technique that uses pre-existing social networks to produce exponential increases in awareness through self-replicating viral processes. Basically it is marketing that appears to work much the same as a cold virus, spreading from person to person explosively. The best part is that you can take advantage of this marketing technique without expensive software or technological expertise. Here are 7 techniques that will start a viral storm of traffic to your site, if you use them properly. 1. Give Away Information to your customers and include back links to your site. You can post these books or special reports on eBook directories, give away sites and use JV partners to give to their list. Encourage people to pass the information along to their friends who have an interest in the topic. If your information is accurate and helpful you'll find many people be passing the book to friends. 2. You can use a Tell-A-Friend Script on your site. Essentially you give your customer and visitors a way to easily share your website. Depending upon your market you may find that offering an incentive to tell a friend or two will encourage more traffic. Incentives can be free information that is delivered directly after the tell-a-friend script has been executed. Assure your readers that you do not collect email addresses when they enter their friend's address. They are not opting their friend into your ezine. 3. Do you get Funny Video Clips from friends and family? This is viral marketing. Although the clip may not be selling anything the concept of passing from person to person is viral. Now, putting your imagination to work, can you create an idea around your niche that would be interesting? Something that would be passed from person to person? All you need is a digital camera. Videos without the professional 'feel' lend themselves to authenticity. You only have to look at the popularity of reality TV to realize how much people like 'peeking' in on the lives of others. 4. Are you trying to get your information out to your public quickly? You can generate an Internet Press Release to draw in your readers. This is a method that can have far reaching effects when done with creativity and panache. Bring your readers to your page and send them out with a video or eBook to share with their friends. 5. Undercover Marketing, done well, can be fun and intriguing. You create a mystery surrounding your niche. There are questions, mystique, a potential for danger and people keep coming back for more. It becomes fun and interesting. Your readers keep coming back for more and sending their friends to figure out the mystery. Yanik Silver

has been doing this for sometime with his Underground Marketing Seminar. He doesn't release the name of several of the speakers, the attendees are undercover agents and the information is highly confidential. The whole event is cloaked in mystery. 6. Social Network Sites are here to stay. They often evolve around a particular topic. MySpace, the most popular network site, is a general forum where people discuss anything from monkeys to marriage. The information on these sites is searchable. You can easily develop a list of people interested in your topic or niche and release funny exciting information that they are encouraged to pass along to their friends. 7. Buzz Marketing is creating a 'buzz' about a particular subject, video, website or writing. In 2001 Morgan Westerman discovered a poem in the public domain that he published to the Internet. It was a feel good poem that people started passing from friend to friend. Then the Twin Towers collapsed and people in the U.S. started searching for answers and encouragement. An Interview with God blossomed into a mega-hit. As he realized how much more traffic his site was receiving Mr. Westerman redesigned, added music and graphics. Later he sold screen savers, cards and inspirational books. This was a matter of pure chance. Mr. Westerman did not anticipate 9/11 but he was able to rethink his use of that public domain poem and has created an industry unique unto itself.

Advantages of Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is one of the cost-free methods for promoting a business transaction The time and resources are easily available in this type of marketing Viral marketing enables businesses to remain buoyant within the competitive business world This marketing strategy enables business propositions to reach out to a global audience The word-of-mouth concept ripples on to peer-to-peer recommendation of the product or service In general, viral marketing generates better value for money. Marketing gurus also believe that the growing popularity of viral marketing can be attributed to its easy execution at a relatively low-cost. In fact, if viral marketing is targeted well, it can produce stupendous response too. Although the benefits of online viral marketing via e-mail or social networking sites like YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc. have already changed the equations of the modern marketing techniques, yet many of the typical businessmen do not include viral marketing in their marketing mix. They either underestimate the strength of viral marketing or turn to new ways of marketing. The greatest advantage of Internet Viral Marketing is that you get a lot of publicity and public awareness about your website and your company. You can generate a flow of traffic that brings in masses of potential customers. With a little ingenuity and imagination, plus some incentives or prizes, you can reach out to a great number of people and announce your website's existence as more than just a drop in the Internet Ocean. Most up-and-coming online businesses are catching on to the effectiveness of Internet Viral Marketing and advertising. By ignoring the importance of IVM your website might just languish and be relegated to nothing more than a glorified online brochure of your company, as opposed to an income generating success. Along with other schemes and methods for promoting your site, like Search Engine Optimization, Internet Viral Marketing could easily push you ahead in the ratings game. The beauty of Internet Viral Marketing, and why it is so successful, is that it is subtle in its delivery of who actually created it. It really is simply a sneaky way to get

people to know about you and your company - you get them to do the work for you while passing your advertisement along. All it takes is a great idea, an addictive game, eBook, text message, or a funny story - there are many ideas still out there, maybe you have a few yourself already. All you have to do is create a buzz - many movies are promoted by using scandals and gossip to make them more popular. Many big companies have tried Internet Viral Marketing and had success stories with it. A classic example is Microsoft's Hotmail. They were the first known big company to utilize the scheme and it worked wonders for them. But not all Internet Viral Marketing needs to be on a big budget like Microsoft's. In August 2008 the fashion designer Adam Lippes used this simple yet highly effective piece of viral marketing incorporating offline and online seduction and intrigue: Clear inflatable beach balls were places in NYC cabs bearing the message "How far would you go for true love?" printed on them. An attached card (for easy portability) read with the password 'for truelove'. The promotion turned out to be a t-shirt and the chance for a $1,000 prize. In summary then: Internet Viral Marketing is when companies ride on the idea that if people like the content of a media they will pass it on to their friends and family.

Making the Virus Prolific

There is hardly any actor who does not want to be successful in Hollywood, but only a few succeed. Same is the case with viral marketing. There is no guaranteed recipe for instant success. Viral marketing has some drawbacks which need to be taken care of.

The first and foremost pitfall is dilution of the brand as the message you want to communicate to the customer may be diluted as you let others be your spokespersons. Hence, the identity of the brand may be lost. The best solution is to create a brand that is strong enough to bear the interpretation of the customer, or formulate a brandless image. Secondly, the marketer can use the virus to pull the customers to the brands site in huge numbers, educate them through the site and then build the brand and target the customers.

The second very important problem is the risk of linkage with negative sites or people. This may hamper the company as well as the brand image and, in turn, may lead to a negative word of mouth. Therefore, before getting attached to an affiliate, one should take due care in creating content guidelines, checking affiliate content and dealing with the affiliates concerns about the policies and guidelines. The marketer has to consider how it will affect the brand to have its logo and products displayed on sites with unpleasant content, indifferent audiences, pitiable design, and how these might affect ones own brand image. The marketer must choose affiliates who are worthy of the relation.

Thirdly, the marketers should be conscious of flouting netiquettes. Spamming every individual on the lists is violating the privacy of the willingly registered user too. For this, they can be even sued. One should, instead, motivate the users to communicate for you by offering something positive. The marketer should develop a customer base by building trust which is only possible through honesty, good products and service. One should spread the word to friends who will be interested in the topic and

not to everyone. The marketers, therefore, should make sure that the visitors properly target their word of mouth.

Fourthly, managing web traffic is another problem that one has to understand and take care of. On the web, the growth and reaction are both instantaneous because it is so easy to click Forward and Send to many addresses in the blink of an eye. Therefore, in viral marketing, one has to take care of the web traffic, especially when the promotion is big and the response, quite strong.

One should continuously monitor the spread of the virus in terms of value, pace and target community.

Brand Control: The problem with viral marketing is that you have no control over your branding. You don't know ahead of time whom an individual is going to contact. As a result, many of your messages may end up with people outside the target audience. Moreover, in some cases, individuals may modify the message or add something to it. This leads to variability in how your brand is perceived, something you don't want

Uncharted Growth: Viral marketing can lead to unanticipated growth paths. For example, Hotmail is now one of the leading email providers in India. It is not clear if it expected that or even wanted that. However, many individuals started emailing friends in India who emailed many more. Such growth paths may lead to abrupt changes in strategic direction, which can be problem

Lack of Measurement: You can't always track who received the emails and what they did with them. In many cases, it may not be possible to tell if people who adopted your service did so because of your viral marketing technique or otherwise. So it's difficult to track and measure. Compare this with techniques such as banner advertising, where measurement is now an advanced science.

Spam Threats: Finally, if done poorly, viral marketing can lead to large-scale spam issues. Consider a company that pays individuals to email their friends to convince them to buy one of its products. In this case, the individual who receives the email had only given the friend permission to send email of a personal nature. The one friend's receiving an unsolicited commercial email can weaken his or her relationship with the person who sent it. This can lead to the recipient of the email dropping a friend and becoming angry with the marketer for sending an unsolicited message. Flames may result, leading to damage to the advertiser's reputation. In some cases, individuals who want to earn more money simply go out and spam people. This can be problematic for your company image.

14 Outrageous Viral Marketing Examples over the Last Decade


Though I know that we are looking at a decade of viral marketing, a look back at the history of online marketing efforts must include Hotmail. In 1996, Hotmail was a particulary unique email service in that it was free, could be accessed anywhere, and would allow the user to have multiple accounts. One of the interesting things Hotmail did was it would attach the message Get your free email at Hotmail at the bottom of every email sent by a Hotmail user. Once the receiving user clicked on the word Hotmail they were taken to Hotmails homepage where the free email service was further explained. The plan, original at the time, worked. By 1998, Hotmail had accumulated 12 million subscribers. Hotmail eventually sold to Microsoft for a cool $400 million. Not bad! Kraft

In an effort to build up their online presence, Kraft launched a branded microsite called Cheesy Movies. The site, which corresponded with Krafts much larger back-to-school promotions, allowed participants to create an account and develop their own animated movies up to 25 seconds long. The short films featured an array of different props and characters for participants to work with and manipulate. The microsite was a hit with both kids and parents. Thousands of movies were created with each participant spending on average between 30 minutes and an hour on the site. The Subservient Chicken

The Subservient Chicken for Burger King was introduced in 2004. The branded micro site consisted of an interactive web cam that filmed a person dressed in a chicken costume who would perform certain acts the user typed into the site. Users flocked to the site in droves, accumulating more than 15 million visits in the first 5 days. Today, the site has attracted over 450 million hits; however, that does not mean that it has been a success. The provocative, yet creepy site is amusing and a great way to waste time, but

does it really make Burger Kings soggy fries taste any better? Does it make the fast food chain hip and edgy, or shady and desperate? I think a little of both. Nike

Nike has become a master of viral marketing over the years, but this 2006 ad staring Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldinho has emerged as one of the greatest viral ads of all time. The is it real, or is it doctored quality of the ad caused many viewers to send the clip to friends to get a second opinion on whether the feat was real or computer generated. As of today, the amateur-looking clip has generated more than 30 million views on YouTube and positioned itself as one of the most successful and acclaimed viral ads of all time


This ad by Dove entitled Evolution was one of the first of a series of self-esteem related ads released to the Internet. The short 75-second clip generated more than 44,000 views within its first day of release, more than 1,700,000 views with the first month, and more than 12,000,000 views within the first year. The ad is especially noted for the amount of discussion it generated on such broadcast television shows as The View, Good Morning America, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. It has been estimated that the clip has generated more than $150 million worth of free advertising

due to its mainstream exposure. It is emotional, clean, beautiful, and considered by many to be a classic. Snakes on a Plane

The title alone screams viral. The b-movie concept attracted instant attention throughout the web once the general plot of the film was made public. The title and eventual trailer inspired countless mock-trailers, spin-off websites, and YouTube-broadcast parodies. Everyone talked about Snakes on a Plane, but then no one went to see it. The muchhyped film was a box office dud. The lesson here even if a great viral campaign takes off, the product being sold must also be interesting. Maybe Burger King should take note! Blendtec

Utah-based company, Blendtec, began distributing a series of infomercials under the title Will it Blend?. In the brief segments, the companys co-founder, Tom Dickson, blends an assortment of items including golf balls, marbles, and cell phones to demonstrate the strength and durability of his blenders. The cheesy infomercials became an instant sensation garnering more then 100 million online views between the Blendtec website and YouTube. Since the launch of these videos, Blendtec has seen an exponential increase in sales including a five fold increase in online revenue.

Diet Coke

In contrast to my previous pick, the Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment was a viral sensation produced completely independent of either the Coke or Mentos brands. Though the exploding Cokes had already been an online phenomenon well before 2007, the release of the Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment helped to generate more than 10 million YouTube views and raise the profile of the experiment beyond just a passing fad and into the annals of Internet lore. Both Coke and Mentos gained a considerable amount of brand awareness from the clip that has emerged as one of the most iconic viral sensations of the past decade.

Cadbury Dairy Milk

Cadburys wildly popular Gorilla campaign is solid evidence that clever advertising can create short memories. At the start of 2007, Cadbury was in the midst of a PR nightmare after a major Salmonella outbreak that occured at one of Cadburys factories. Then, in 2007, Cadbury launched its Gorilla campaign to reignite interest in the company. The ad was a huge success on broadcast television and instantly made its way to the web. After its first week on Youtube, the clip received over 500,000 views. By the end of 2007, the clip had been viewed over 6 million times online. Approximately 70 Facebook groups have been created celebrating the campaign, as well as a host of parodies and spin-offs. Following the release of the campaign, YouGov reported that 20% more

people looked favorably on the brand than before. The campaigns viral presence helped to increase sales around the world from Britain, to South Africa, to Australia and New Zealand.


Ray-Ban created a viral stir with the release of a string of YouTube-bait videos in 2007. The videos (there have been 17 released since 2007) were released on their branded YouTube channel promoting their Never Hide campaign. The channel presently has over 3,100 subscribers and three of the videos have generated over 1 million views. The most popular Never Hide clip to date, Guy Catches Glasses with Face, has attracted over 4.3 million views and continues to grow in popularity. All of the clips capitalize on the WTF nature of many YouTube videos, while also playing on the is that real or fake meme that has become a viral staple. Since the debut of the online ads, sales of Ray-Ban Wayfarers (the style most represented in the ads) have skyrocketed. Sales in 2007 were up 231%, while 2008 sales were up 40%.

Barack Obama

Barack Obamas presidential win had about as much to do with social media and viral marketing skills as it did with his Harvard Law degree or stance on an array of political issues. Obama got the youth to vote, a task many thought impossible. He accomplished this by strategically tapping into nearly every major social media outlet. At the time of Obamas inauguration in January 2009, the President had 13 million people on his email list, 3 million online donors, 5 million friends on more than 15 different social networking sits including 3 million friends on Facebook, 8.5 million monthly visitors to, nearly 2,000 official YouTube videos (with more than 80 million views and 135,000 subscribers), and more than 3 million people signed up for his text messaging program. Now, that is how you win an election.


Guys backflip into jeans generated a staggering 2.5 million views on YouTube in only one week. As of June 23, the brief ad has been viewed more than 14 million times across an array of video-sharing sites. Though the ad has received a large amount of exposure, it

also looks suspiciously like the Ray-Ban ad mentioned earlier. The concept is recycled, to say the least, but has still managed to attract considerable attention.


Vodafones ad campaign featuring the Zoozoo creatures have become an international sensation. Developed in India, the playful commericals have made their way to the internet and become viral hits. The campaign, Make the Most of Now, has become truly global as a result. The videos have collected millions of online views worldwide and firmly positioned the Zoozoo creatures as loveable global icons.


Samsungs clip of LED-illuminated sheep running around the Welsh countryside continues to generate interest throughout the Internet. The clip has attracted nearly 8.5 million views on YouTube and continues to be the topic of discussion on blogs across the web. The is it real or not quality proves once again to be YouTube gold.

Word of Mouth: The Most Trusted Form of Marketing Communication

Speaking of recommendations, according to a Nielsen Internet survey conducted in 2007, India stands fourth in the world among countries which trust recommendations from consumers. Hong Kong tops the list with 93% of the Internet accessing population trusting recommendations from others over any other form of marketing. The corresponding figure for India is 87%. Seventy seven per cent of Indians trust newspapers and this makes newspapers second in the most trusted list, whereas, opinions expressed online stands third, and brand websites rank fourth, while television is the fifth most trusted medium with 73%,72% and 65% of preference respectively. Referrals have always been the most powerful communications tool. As in the case of cult marketing, people themselves nowadays act as a powerful promotional medium. Thus, there is little need for advertising when the customer himself passes the advertising message voluntarily to others. This obviously makes a lot of difference in a situation where each of us receives around 1000 advertising messages per day, and our heads are exploding with the hum of innumerable jingles and slogans. There is one option that cuts through this clutter. We all listen to each other, especially the ones we know and trust. We rely on the human voice word of mouth.

The Entertainment, Media and Advertising Market Research Handbook states:

Research findings show that people rely greatest on family and friends when making a buying decision, and that consumer distrust often leads people away from a marketers advertisement. According to Kim T Gordon, renowned marketing expert, speaker and author, Theres no better advertising than word of mouth. After all, a customer who calls you following a personal recommendation from a friend or colleague is more likely to buy. And that makes the pursuit of positive word of mouth every entrepreneurs Holy Grail.

Viral Marketing: Pitfall or Windfall?

Viral marketing often means walking a fine line between spreading your brand name like wildfire and spreading it too thin. Even "viral marketing" itself sounds a little scary. You walk into your client's office, or the boss's office, and it sounds like you're pitching something illegal, or at least counterrevolutionary. If viral marketing is so natural and ubiquitous, what's so dangerous about viral marketing online? Here are some of the pitfalls and how can you avoid them.

Problem: Diluting your brand by letting others be your mouthpiece.

Let's say you host a contest, with an excellent prize that ties nicely to your brand and reinforces your pitch and product. For instance, you are a major appliance manufacturer and you decide to give away a "Dream House" to reinforce a campaign based on motivating dream remodels using your product. Within the web site, you provide a viral mechanism: When visitors register, they have the option of recruiting others to enter, which gives them additional entry points. But when your evangelists-in-training go forth, how will they represent the promotion? Most likely, they will tell their friends, "Go here to win a house! And tell them I sent you, so Ill gets points!" The brand identity and carefully wrought message are completely lost.

Solution: Create a brand strong enough to endure interpretation, or invent a brandless

approach. If you are a household name, it probably doesn't matter. Your brand identity is firmly established, and probably reinforced by ongoing print, web and TV campaigns. So when I say, "Go see Coca-Colas web site," the message doesnt matter because the brand is already there. If you are not a household name, you have two options. You can carefully construct the scheme to reinforce your brand, by keeping the message, prize, design, and verbiage concentrated on you. Instead of asking visitors to pass on the word, have them enter addresses at your site and you contact the list with your own message. But note that the more you try to control a viral campaign, the smaller that campaign will be.

The second solution: Dont worry about it. Use the virus to pull people to the site in large numbers, whether or not they understand the message. Then use the site to educate, brand and target after the fact.

Problem: Associations with negative sites or people.

You are an online book retailer. You invent a clever affiliate program. You get the referred sales, the affiliates get a reward. Then let's say a neo-Nazi site signs up as an affiliate and begins featuring your books. Do you want your logo on their site? An assortment of your survivalist books featured there? And a link from the site? If the answer is no, you have to work out the logistics of approving every affiliate, creating content guidelines, monitoring affiliate content, and dealing with affiliate complaints about all these policies. If you choose a hands-off approach, you have to consider how it will affect your brand to have your logo and products featured on sites with objectionable content, strange audiences, poor design, misspellings, broken links, competitors, diverse products, and who-knows-what.

Solution: Choose who is worthy of the virus, limiting relationships.

U.S. News & World Report had a program where schools that placed highly in their annual college rankings could place a "Top Ten" or "Top 25" badge on their web sites with a link to the relevant ranking table. Our original approach was to place the badges and link information on a publicly available site. But we discovered that too many people were using the designations students creating amateur sites, sites that had nothing to do with colleges - and some were altering the graphics to a lower quality. Instead, for future efforts, we directly sent colleges the information on how to link and what graphics to use, as we announced their rankings. This gave us better control of the graphics and more direct communication with those who would use the program wisely.

Problem: Breaking netiquette (spamming)., a free long-distance-by-web company, recently got involved in a lawsuit over a netiquette fiasco. The viral campaign involved getting people to register for the service, then downloading their address books, and contacting everyone in there with the message "Register for free long distance with us, and you can talk to so-and-so who just signed up!"

In this extreme case, not only were they spamming all the people on the lists they lifted (by contacting them without permission), they were violating the privacy of the voluntarily registered user, too. Not only did they incur the wrath of anti-spam factions, they also were sued.

Solution: Know the rules, and educate your minions.

1. Remember the basic premise of viral marketing: You are motivating your users to evangelize for you by offering something positive. "Motivation" does not mean force, threats, dishonesty or stealth. 2. Remember the basic rule of business: Build a customer base through good service, good products and trust. Whatever tactics you try, dont violate the trust of customers youve already won. When you evaluate a viral campaign, ask yourself if it violates these basic tenets, or if it asks the participants to violate them. Is the prize so large that it motivates false entries and spamming? Is the tactic so aggressive that you will saturate the message? Is it gaining new customers in such a way or at such a rate that you will alienate your previous customers?

Problem: Too much of a good thing.

Viral tactics are designed to grow exponentially. You tell two friends, then they tell two friends, then they tell two friends, and so on and so on. On the web, the growth is instant, as well as the reaction. A good joke can spread to thousands of people in one day because it's so easy to click "Forward," add ten addresses, and hit "Send." Behold the power of viral marketing. When you are dealing with web promotion, the action might involve the respondents hitting your web site, registering, downloading a large file, requesting a freebie, or buying something. If the promotion is big enough and response strong enough, you might see a ten- or 100fold increase in traffic within a day. Is your web server ready? Is your response staff ready? Is your budget ready? Case in point: A large watch retailer tried the Spam way model, encouraging visitors to tell friends in exchange for a watch. The prize was just too good, and the point system was undervalued. They had thousands of registrants the first day, even before starting to promote the event. They gave away all the watches allocated for the month-long promotion within three days. Needless to say, the event had to be suspended while they reformulated.

Solution: Keep the spread of the virus properly valued, paced and targeted.
Target, target, target. Again, viral marketing works best as a community-based event. Visitors should be spreading the word to friends that will be interested in the topic, not to everyone in the world. How can you make sure your visitors properly target their word-of-mouth, when they may not even know what targeting means? The reward should be relevant to your market. The reward shouldn't be so large that it motivates cheating or over-spread. The reward should have your message or brand all over it, so that everybody knows this is about you. Some examples: CNET's concept of giving away content lets users put tech news on their web sites, in exchange for a link to CNET. People who participate in the program will naturally place the stories in front of their visitors who care about industry news. It's automatically targeted by the relevancy of the giveaway (free content).

As every coin has two faces likewise, this new marketing strategy i.e. viral marketing also has advantages with some disadvantages. Companies should knowhow to leverage the power of viral marketing. When a firm is planning to go for viral campaign, they have to think on their target group and how they should penetrate them with the campaign.

"Customers buy for their reasons, not yours." - Orvel Ray Wilson
So find out customers reasons, these reasons will create new opportunities to do your viral marketing job.

Firms should assess relevance to brand, objective and audience before viral campaign. Firm can integrate with traditional/ongoing marketing efforts with viral marketing. They should develop a resolution or measurable call to action. Viral marketing must spread from person to person voluntarily. A person who spreads a viral message must do so without any financial incentive to do so.

Bibliography www.ignite social Advertising express Marketing mastermind