What is Viral Marketing?


Have you ever heard someone say, “Have you seen that new video? It went viral!” What are they talking about? In this video, Eric Spellmann explains viral marketing. From what it is to the secrets behind the biggest viral marketing campaigns, he shows you the science involved in getting people to “share” your content with their friends.It isn’t random or “luck!” If you have ever wanted to increase your brand awareness or just wanted something to go viral on the Internet, watch this video!


Note from Eric: Below, you will find a word-for-word transcript of this video. I provide this as an aid for the hearing-impaired and for those who might just want to read it rather than watch the video. This conversational style is not reflective of how I write. Be nice! Hey I am Eric Spellmann with EricSpellmann.com. And today we’re going to be talking about one of my favorite subjects, viral marketing.

Let’s talk a little bit about why the word virus is not a bad word. Because the first time I ever mentioned that to people that’s what they say to me: Who virus? I don’t want a virus, I don’t want a computer virus, I don’t want a cold virus, I don’t want a flu virus. Viruses are bad. They are unless we’re talking about marketing.

See you want your content to go viral. Now when I say content I mean videos, I mean blogs, I mean pictures there’s so many pieces that can go viral on you. You want people talking about you. It saves you money and time because think about it. In order for you to reach people now, to reach a huge number of people, whether you buy billboards or TV or radio or a website or you paid up for clicks to go to you or you paid for banner ads.

That can take a whole bunch of your time and money. But when you come up with a piece of content that people want, then you can just sit back and it has a life of its own. You get huge brand awareness possibilities here. People know who you are and you were not even trying to reach them.

So how it got started? Where did all this viral marketing start? Well believe it or not, Microsoft gets the credit here because it was their email program, the first free email program out there was Hotmail. And basically the way it worked was this. You would go to hotmail.com and you would sign-up for a free email account. Sounds good, it’s totally free, private and it works.

Then, every message you sent out from Hotmail, because it’s free, they put a little tag at the bottom that says Hey get your private free email at hotmail.com. So every message you’re sending out is technically advertising for Hotmail and then those people could click on it, they could sign-up and then back and forth, back and forth and it spreads and spreads and spreads.

You see how this works. Basically they could have 1% start this and every email they send out, if a few of those people go to Hotmail and sign-up, then every email they send out, you follow me. It grows on its own. It’s like a virus, it spreads from person to person. That’s why it’s called viral marketing. And Hotmail was the first to show how this works.

The key is self replication. Now I know that word may freak you out, do not worry about that. Self replication means it spreads on its own without you helping it out. Remember, you may start it but it takes on a life of its own. And it spreads from person to person, they are sharing it without you having it lift a finger.

But remember, in order for this to work, like I said, others have to share it. And that’s why not every viral marketing campaign works. Because you may start something and others take it to be boring and they don’t share it and it kind of falls flat on the stairs.

You want this to happen over and over and over again. So it goes crazy with thousands if not millions of people talking about it, looking at it and sharing it with others.

Let’s talk about what viral is NOT! Because theres a lot of misconceptions out there. First of all, viral is NOT luck. You know a lot of people say how did that video get so popular? How did that blog, that picture on Pinterest got pinned by millions of people? That facebook post, it’s got thousands of people sharing it, how did that happen?

It’s not luck. A lot of people think “Well they just got lucky”. No. That’s not how this works. Also it’s not random. This is something you can actually control. If you do a lot of work and a lot of research, you can come up with something that will go viral on you, which is really what you want.

The key is to understand the secret of “virality.” It’s called social currency. What I really mean is why do people share something? Why do people take that effort and forward something on to somebody else? Well, the answer is quite simple. To make us look smart or funny to our friends. That’s the big one right there. Think about it. You see a post on facebook and you go that is hilarious, I’m going to share that.

Now why are you sharing that? Because all the people you share it to, are going to think well that was cool thing that Eric shared. And so Eric gets a little bit of social rise out of that. So, people share things because it makes them look good or makes them look funny. And that’s why they do it.

So keep that in mind. People share things because it makes them look good. The secret to viral marketing is to make it easy for someone to make themselves look good.

Theres a lot of good resources on this if you want to dig even deeper into the science behind some of this. But really the key is what I just showed you. Think of something that people will want to forward, and that will make them look either smart or funny. And it works.

This concept is not original. I wish I could take credit for it but a really smart guy named Jonah Berger came up with it and he wrote a great book, I highly recommend it “Contagious : Why Things Catch On” or you can go to his website at jonahberger.com. He’s really good at this and explains it in great detail.

Well as always I am Eric Spellmann at ericspellmann.com. And if you have any questions on this go to my facebook fan page or give me a call and ask me and I’ll be happy to help in any way I can. Once again I’m Eric Spellmann with ericspellmann.com; I’ll see you in cyberspace.