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The word “Viral Marketing” is used rather loosely these days with anything that has anything to do with social media. I thought, a post listing the essential elements of what Viral Marketing is might be a good idea.

So, what is Viral Marketing?
The essential components of any marketing campaign for it to be called a Viral Marketing Campaign are:
1. Sharing without explicit incentives. Viral campaigns are propagated by the very people who interact with the campaign an they do it without any explicit incentive. If you are getting a free burger to share a link on your wall, you are doing it for the burger not for the sake of it. There is nothing wrong with it but just that, it’s not viral marketing then.
2. The growth should be exponential: While there are many successful campaigns that ran for years on winning many hearts but they were not viral because they grew slow. Viral campaigns grow fast and either die out or, if cleverly handled, are leveraged to create mini campaigns with same theme but fresh twists. An example is the zoozoo campaign by Vodafone in India. It is viral but Vodafone keeps on putting new twists to the idea to keep it going.
3. Surprise: this is another consistent feature of almost all viral marketing campaigns. There is an element of surprise that excites the viewers.

So now you know that every marketing campaign labeled as viral is not really viral until it has all the above mentioned essential components of a viral marketing campaign.

If want to design a viral campaign for your brand, stay RSSed and I will be throwing some ideas on that in coming days. We will be doing a blog post series shortly where we will walk you through making of a viral campaign step by step.

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