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Viral marketing is a concept that is hard to pin down. Just what is it?

In a word, viral marketing is any type of marketing that catches on and gets people talking about you. When an idea spreads, either spontaneously or as a part of a planned effort, then it is said to have gone viral. That can happen in a variety of media.

Videos, for instance, can go viral in a number of ways but one very popular way that they often catch on and take a life of their own is through the popular video channel YouTube. Articles can go viral through one of many e-zine directories or on a content website. Photos can go viral at places like Flickr and DeviantArt.

What medium are you using? It helps to know what you have to offer in order to present it to the right people in hopes that it might go viral. Your blog can viral if you get it in front of the right eyes. One blog post can go viral if the right people see it and share it. The key is to get it in front of the right people.

So how do you do that?

One mistake that marketers often make is to present their material to all of their friends hoping that their friends will share it and then their friends will share it and so on and so on. But a better way to ensure that your content goes viral is to present it to half a dozen influencers. These are people on social networks like Facebook and Twitter who have thousands of followers. A single tweet or Facebook update can often lead to thousands of hits to your website in minutes if the right influencer likes it.

But simply submitting your link or content to an influencer isn’t enough. You should study the influencers you want to target and learn what they like. Develop a relationship with them. Interact with them and get to know them as a person, let them get to know you.

People, even influencers, respond better to people they know than to random strangers. Get to know the right people and your content will stand a better chance at going viral.

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