A frequently used example of early viral marketing is Hotmail, the free web-based email service launched in 1996 that included in its users' outgoing messages an embedded advertisement and direct link inviting recipients to sign up for an account. This practice led to the fastest growth among user-based media companies at the time. Another example that illustrates how varied viral marketing can be is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The ice bucket challenge existed before The ALS Association utilized it to raise awareness and generate donations, but the massive dissemination on social media of ALS Ice Bucket videos created a worldwide sensation that not only increased ALS awareness tremendously, but also raised $115 million in donations to the Association in the summer of 2014 alone.
Do you want to reach new customers by promoting your online store’s best products? One of the hottest ways to reach more of your target audience is through viral marketing. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as adding cute animals to your marketing message, hoping that a kitten sitting on top of camping gear is enough to get your website link spread to the masses. But we’ll breakdown what steps you can take to help you inch closer to success. In this post, we’re going to look at how businesses can skyrocket sales through viral marketing.

Old Spice conquered this type of marketing in 2010 with their “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign which included a series of humorous videos. This viral marketing example received 55M views, their YouTube channel grew exponentially, and sales grew 55% in the first three months after the campaign. The success of this campaign was mainly due to their humor which people everywhere could understand and found funny. Humor is not the only emotion that companies can rely on to turn their marketing campaign into a viral one. Love, unity and fear are just a few of the other emotions that viral marketing campaigns have relied on to get noticed.

There’s a second downside to this model. Although I’ve done advertising and sponsorships in the past, and have made hundreds of thousands of dollars doing so, the truth is it takes a lot of time for this business model to start to generate income for you, because you need to build that audience first. In addition, what happens when you build your audience on a platform that ends up changing its algorithm, affecting how often you actually get seen by the audience you’ve built?
The Internet makes it possible for a campaign to go viral very fast; it can, so to speak, make a brand famous overnight. However, the Internet and social media technologies themselves do not make a brand viral; they just enable people to share content to other people faster. Therefore, it is generally agreed that a campaign must typically follow a certain set of guidelines in order to potentially be successful:
By increasing the exposure of your brand and delivering value to your audience, you have a stronger likelihood of getting the success you need in your viral marketing campaign. Awareness is required even if the content is great so that people can share and make it popular. You need to create something that pulls in the kind of attention that will spread.
Viral advertising is personal and, while coming from an identified sponsor, it does not mean businesses pay for its distribution.[6] Most of the well-known viral ads circulating online are ads paid by a sponsor company, launched either on their own platform (company webpage or social media profile) or on social media websites such as YouTube.[7] Consumers receive the page link from a social media network or copy the entire ad from a website and pass it along through e-mail or posting it on a blog, webpage or social media profile. Viral marketing may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, text messages, email messages, or web pages. The most commonly utilized transmission vehicles for viral messages include: pass-along based, incentive based, trendy based, and undercover based. However, the creative nature of viral marketing enables an "endless amount of potential forms and vehicles the messages can utilize for transmission", including mobile devices.[8]
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