Viral advertising is the online version of word of mouth advertising. It involves using different online techniques to have people share information about your service or product. The word viral there is key, what people share spreads like a virus, rapidly and among a number of people advertising is said to have gone viral when it manages to spread like a virus.
One of the secrets of viral advertising is the ability to appeal to human emotion which makes someone want to share whatever they may have seen or heard with other people so that they can talk about it or just share the emotion.
There are many platforms today for viral advertising and these include:
This was probably one of the first platforms used effectively for viral advertising. Hotmail used this to advertise their email accounts. Every time a person sent mail to someone else, there would be a link encouraging the recipient to sign up to hotmail. This led to the number of people signing up multiplying very fast and effectively. Other companies have since sent emails to recipients advertising their products and at the end they encourage them to forward the message to other people they think might find the information useful and this has led to a chain reaction or rather a viral effect.
People like to share videos they find interesting and advertisers have capitalized on this coming up with interesting videos that can be shared especially on YouTube. Recently martial artist Van Dame was featured in an advert for trucks and in it he does the splits standing on two moving trucks that move apart from each other, it was an amazing sight and the video got thousands of views and shares in a few days. So many other advertisers have done this and seen a viral share effect sometimes it is even more effective than TV.
Facebook, Twitter, WatsApp and the like have created a whole new evolution in the way advertising is done. Advertisers now look for adverts that can stimulate the viral effect. Funny pictures, moving stories, discussion points all these are ways advertisers prompt people to share things on social media. Sometimes it is not even an advert, it could just be a simple inspirational quote on a company's wall which is shared by its followers but because it is from the wall of that company, every time that someone share the quote the name of that company is also shared with those people, in effect creating viral advertising.
Today these three platforms are the most common viral advertising methods even though there are others like blogs, newsletters and websites. It is established that word of mouth or rather referrals are the best advertising strategies so no wonder Viral advertising is proving to be highly effective.
The effectiveness of viral advertising however depends on the content being easy to share with the list amount of effort. The content should also have the ability to stand out from most of the content already on the internet. It should have a sense of unusualness giving recipients the urge to share it because they believe it will be new to their friends or helpful.