Does Cheap Viral Marketing Actually Work?
The undeniable truth is that effective marketing is expensive. You generally get what you pay for, so really making an impact is going to cost an arm and a leg. But what if there was a form of marketing that was twice as effective as ordinary marketing, comparatively very cheap, and accessible to everyone? That would revolutionise the world of business, regardless if you offered online blackjack or fixed cars.
Viral marketing is the process of creating an interesting advertisement, releasing it, then allowing organic word of mouth to spread the message far and wide. Particularly successful campaigns can reach millions, outdoing even some of the most expensive traditional campaigns.
The only real problem is that making something go viral is not just difficult to understand, it is a near uncrackable mystery.
The Power Of Social Media
It is, of course, social media that has made viral marketing as powerful as it is. Since virtually everyone has an account, all it takes is for a single user to get the ball rolling. Hence, with just the time it takes to create a post a company can be seen by millions or even tens of millions. It is almost too good to be true.
It need not be looked further than the so-called ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ to understand just how effective it can all be. You may remember seeing celebrities pouring ice on their heads, but did you also know that the ALS Association raised $115 million with this stunt?
Another example is that of Burger King and its infamous moldy burger. Having heard the myth that their fast food is so artificial that it doesn’t even decompose, the company posted a photo of a month-old moldy burger. The image went viral, demonstrating just how bizarre this sort of marketing can be.
Unintended Negative Impact
On the other hand, viral marketing can also be a powder keg waiting to explode. Many companies have assumed that the worst that can happen with viral marketing is that it fails, and little impact occurs. But what if the message spread is negative, drastically impacting a corporate reputation in the process?
Hyundai released an attempted viral advert of a man attempting suicide, only for the attempt to fail due to the car not producing enough harmful toxins. The response to the advert was so poor that the advert was quickly pulled, leaving the company with nothing but a blemish on its reputation.
The Bottom Line
Viral marketing can be extremely successful but is marked by also being unpredictable, difficult to control, and potentially just as harmful as it is beneficial. There is no telling what will and won’t go viral, and anyone claiming to offer guaranteed viral hits for an upfront cost is probably twisting the truth.
A company can attempt to utilise this turbulent form of cheap marketing, but understanding just how unpredictable the results can be is part of the process. Traditional methods are far more likely to give results.