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September 7, 2007

Tips For Generating Viral Marketing Buzz

I thought of naming this post as " Viral Marketing Principles" But I realized that we cant have principles and theories for something that is essentially an art form. Viral marketing is not a science where rules can be applied and you would get the formula, which can be repeated to get the same predicted result. Planning and Implementing a Viral marketing strategy for your business is like making a movie . Every step has to be planned in detail ,every shot has to be handled using a different background.

Off the Internet, viral marketing has been referred to as "word-of-mouth," "creating a buzz," "leveraging the media," "network marketing." But on the Internet, for better or worse, it's called "viral marketing." While others smarter than I have attempted to rename it, to somehow domesticate and tame it, I won't try. The term "viral marketing" has stuck.

However what we marketers can do, is provide companies with basic steps on what makes a"Viral Marketing Strategy" Successful. What are the basic things companies need to do to use word of mouth methods, how to use existing customers to launch the viral process and most importantly what Online companies needs to do within the site to kickstart the entire Viral Marketing Chain. So here we go

1)Use existing Customers to kickstart the process.

2) Make your product,services go mobile ..that is allow them to travel.. in the form of Embeds( Youtube) to be syndicated (RSS) shared with like minded users(digg/delicious/reddit. Allow other to add value (wikipedia) . provide Mashup tools ( Google maps) . In short allow your content to travel faster among interest groups

3)Once it reached a critical mass , allow scalability of your content.

4)Invest on"Community Building".User's like to talk, give then the chance of expressing themselves by giving them a platform to share their experiences( both positive and negative ) remember bad news travel fastest. ( forums/blogs/social/networks/ plan a outreach program for your prospective users via social media networks.

5)Take Advantage of Other resources:This was probably best summed by by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, E-Commerce Consultant

"The most creative viral marketing plans use others' resources to get the word out. Affiliate programs, for example, place text or graphic links on others' websites. Authors who give away free articles, seek to position their articles on others' webpages. A news release can be picked up by hundreds of periodicals and form the basis of articles seen by hundreds of thousands of readers. Now someone else's newsprint or webpage is relaying your marketing message. Someone else's resources are depleted rather than your own."

The best example of Viral marketing during web1.0 is hotmail

Steve Jurvetson and Tim Draper outlines the process how Hotmail grew to be one of the hottest email providers during the late 90's

"Hotmail grew a subscriber base more rapidly than any company in the history of the world faster than any new online, Internet, or print publication ever.

In its first 1.5 years, Hotmail signed up over 12 million subscribers.

A traditional print publication would hope to reach a total of 100,000 subscribers within a few years of launch. Hotmail signs up more than 150,000 subscribers every day, seven days a week.

Every Hotmail subscriber, without exception, has filled out a detailed demographic and psychographic profile including occupation and salary. This is an unprecedented supply of personal information.

Yet, from company launch to 12 million users, Hotmail spent less than $500K on marketing, advertising and promotion. This compares to over $20 million spent on advertising and brand promotion by Juno, Hotmail's closest competitor with a fraction of the users."