The dynamic field of internet marketing moves at the speed of light with trends and content gone viral, but it seems many online branding efforts are of the “here today, gone tomorrow” variety. Viral marketing has become a buzzword for businesses who want to make a splash in their industry, but serious doubts about the effectiveness of such branding tactics are beginning to emerge.
The Pros and Cons of Viral Marketing
Viral marketing has its roots in word-of-mouth advertising. The premise is to create something infectious that people will want to share with others. The foremost advantage of viral marketing is that it presents brands with the opportunity to quickly deliver a message to many different people. To a certain extent, television and radio advertising are similar, but viral marketing is preferred because it happens to be more engaging and can travel at a faster pace.
Social media and its myriad of content-sharing buttons are the conduits of viral marketing and serve to deliver a message across large audiences. But this tactic may also be a problem. Research studies show that content promoters tend to get caught up in the excitement of an item going viral, and end up ignoring negative factors such as negative reactions, click fraud, and ethics.
How Viral Marketing is Supposed to Work
Regrettably, many online marketers are too involved in the psychological factors that can make content go viral, and not in the value that can be provided to prospects, customers, and clients. One brand that knows how to master the art of viral content is Nike, a company that recently celebrated the ten-year anniversary of one of the most successful viral videos ever created.
In 2005, Nike featured Brazilian football (soccer) star Ronaldinho in one of the first videos to go massively viral for marketing purposes. Ronaldinho’s incredible control of the ball, coupled with his genuine positive attitude and infectious smile were put on display for the purpose of selling Nike Tiempo Legend soccer shoes.
Ten years after the “Touch of Gold” video featuring Ronaldinho, Nike is revisiting the moment by promoting the digital clip once again and releasing a “retro” edition of the Tiempo Legend shoes. This is a great example of how brands can make viral trends last, by offering people something of value, which in this case is the opportunity of being mesmerized by Ronaldinho while evaluating a pair of Tiempo Legend shoes.
Some brands are in a better position than others to offer value along with viral marketing. A retail legend such as Nordstrom’s, for example, can take advantage of the many items sold in their stores to create viral content that can be revisited. Because they are so general, they can also use coupons and online offers like the ones at discountrue.com to gain new ground in online customers without having to create brand new content. For a more specialized store, you might have to think in term of your demographic rather than mass and viral appeal.
In the end, viral marketing can only be as effective as the product or service it intends to promote.
What to do from here…
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