There are two types of viral marketing campaigns – successful and unsuccessful. Running either of those is no reflection on your skill as a marketer. Good marketers can have an unsuccessful campaign and bad marketers can get lucky and hit a home run. But there are certain principles of viral marketing that should be followed if you want your campaign to have a chance at success.
No. 1, whatever it is you are trying to promote should have some kind of popular appeal. You may have the very best motorized widget on the planet, but if your target market is smaller than a little league baseball team then quality is a small consideration. An idea has to have some popular appeal if it is to ever go viral.
Secondly, it helps get your idea into the hands of a few well connected individuals. Your product or service can be high quality and popular, but if you can’t get at least one well connected person with influence to plug it then chances are you’ll have a hard time getting it to go viral. I hate to plug it as a popularity contest, but that’s what it is. Even 100,000 average Joes won’t have as much influence as 1 kingpin with 100,000 average Joe devotees.
That last sentence needs some elaboration. 100,000 average Joes have friends and their friends listen to them, but they have no one to appeal to as an authority but themselves. The 100,000 average Joes who follow King Cheese, however, can always point to King Cheese as the authority. “Hey,” they could say to their friends, “If you don’t believe me then listen to King Cheese; he’s the man.” Those kinds of appeals work so it’s important to have at least one highly popular and influential person to like your idea enough to promote it.
Finally, your product or service has to have quality. It can be popular, but if it isn’t full of quality then popularity will wane.
Here’s to your next viral marketing campaign. May it be successful.