Earlier, everyone was rushing to take a souvenir photo next to the officials of the institution; Where their elders cut the cake to celebrate the joy of the achievements that have been made; In order to inform the public of the goals achieved.
I evoke this scene for the sake of analogy only, to convey to you the collective image of cutting the cake, which reminds me of the traditional marketing methods that were used in the past; Where the criterion for success was the media appearance and the publication of advertisements in the visual and print media.
Today, it has become the most important and accurate tool for evaluating institutional work is the measurement of the public’s satisfaction with the products or services provided. It is also evaluated through the extent of its impact on the members of society, and the measurement of investors the extent of the credibility of dealing with institutions through social networking sites.
This applies not only to companies but also to government institutions that provide services to the public; A single tweet or statement from an official may indicate the audience’s approval or dissatisfaction; This is either a positive promotion for the organization or a threat to its reputation.
Some may see that this is just an expression of opinion, but the matter goes deeper than that for marketing analysts; Most investors rely on analyzing the audience’s reaction and measuring the popularity of the product, and the reputation of the institution; By measuring its impact on society, and the extent of the public’s interaction with the organization’s events and participation through social networking sites, in what is called viral marketing.
Viral marketing is defined as a business strategy that uses social networking sites to promote a product or service; This is by consumers publishing information about the product and exchange it with others, similar to the way the virus spreads from one person to another. The technique involves organic or word-of-mouth information about a product or service to spread at an ever-increasing rate. The internet and the advent of social media have greatly increased the number of viral messages in the form of memes, shares, likes, and forwards.
The idea of viral marketing is that content reaches a user who is “willing”, becomes “infected” (i.e. receptive), and then shares it with others “infecting them”, in viral analogy terms.
Viral marketing has several types; Including emotional, stimulating, geometric, lucky, and loud.
Here we are talking about emotional viral marketing, which has a 100% success rate. Depending on emotions; It evokes the audience’s emotions – such as laughter, sadness, anger, love, etc. – which leads to an emotional reaction to the product or service, achieving rapid spread.
The power of emotional viral marketing is that emotions compel the consumer to share content with acquaintances and friends; Emotional triggers drive a satisfied customer to share the new “customer experience” with those around them.
Benefits of Viral Marketing
The costs of viral marketing are the lowest, compared to other types and methods of marketing. This is due to the fact that the content spreads organically and easily from one person to another. On the other hand, the cost of creating content for viral marketing may be more expensive if a specialized company created the viral and interesting content, and the return will be greater than the value of the campaign itself.
Also, this type of marketing is not compulsory; The decision to share and forward the message is up to the person. Thus, it is a very favorable method to use; Because it has a high impact, when you see a message from a known source or a known person, it gets more attention and has a direct impact on your thinking and opinion.
This type of marketing is growing exponentially; via social networking sites; It reaches faster and wider to a larger segment of the audience; Thus, rapid growth will achieve business goals more and faster.
Viral marketing has been able to attract young people, who are the most difficult group to attract using traditional marketing methods. Therefore, viral marketing is one of the best types of marketing in terms of its ability to reach the young generation, who are very interested in technology; So most of those who use it, telecom operators, and mobile phone companies.
One of the most prominent features of viral marketing is it is unlimited; It cuts across geographical boundaries; This leads to the rapid spread of the brand and the achievement of the desired goals.
The term viral strategy was first used in marketing in 1995, in the pre-digital era, by a strategy team at Chiat/Day Advertising in Los Angeles (TBWALA) led by Lauren Kitsch and Fred Sattler; For the launch of the first PlayStation from Sony Computer Entertainment.
According to marketing researchers, Andreas Kaplan and Michael Heinlein, the success factors of viral marketing lie in 3 criteria: the right message, the right people, and the right environment.
Viral Marketing Methods
The most important viral marketing techniques are social media optimization, search engine optimization (SEO), and influencer marketing (SMO); Through videos, gifts, passion, surprises, enabling downloading and sharing, social awareness, and customer engagement.
The principles of viral marketing are represented in several points: collecting personal data of users of social media, closely analyzing the market, and constantly analyzing keyword density; To make it easier for the user to enter the organization’s page.
By applying these three principles, the organization can design an advertising model that matches its target customers to achieve effective impact.
The criteria for the success of a viral marketing campaign are measured by monitoring audience behavior on social networking sites such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook…etc.
Where the organization can analyze the interaction through the number of views, likes, retweets, as well as site statistics for the business accounts feature. The owner of the institution can identify the type of his audience, age group, geographical location, the appropriate time to publish ads, the number and quality of posts and views of the content, the number of requests for information, comments, and the number of followers.
Audience surveys can assess the degree to which the public is familiar with the brand, in relation to their attitudes towards the brand; Behavioral measures are essential; Because of the change in consumer behavior and purchasing decisions; which is the goal of viral campaigns.
Consumer behavior is expected to result in contributions to the company’s net profit; Which means increased sales in terms of quantity and financial return. When measuring changes in sales volume, administrators need to consider other factors that may affect sales besides viral marketing activities.
Social media influencers are often used for viral marketing; Bob Gerstley was one of the first to write about algorithms for identifying influencers on social media; Using SNP algorithms in quantitative marketing research. In 2004, it became possible to identify the influencers of any viral campaign.
This has boosted the influence of social media influencers.
Accordingly, companies are using them to promote a product or service or to formulate content that raises engagement; Which leads to an increase in sales.
The algorithms use codes and ciphers that determine the user’s orientation to search and social networking sites.
For example: In 2014, the Chicago Police Department determined which visitors to the city were most likely to engage in crime; By identifying a list of people who were not subject to any investigations; Using an algorithm to predict future criminal behavior; By visiting search sites and social networking sites.
Thus, it becomes clear to us the importance and role of viral marketing; By understanding its types, mechanisms, methods, benefits, and algorithms that control the behavior of the audience on the Internet, and that actually influence purchasing decisions.
Amal Abdullah Al Alawi has a PhD in Entrepreneurship specializing in E-marketing for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).