With advertisers constantly on the lookout for new ways to spread their message, the new social networking phenomena of the late 1990's became a perfect venue. Viral marketing is a form of advertising that relies on the enthusiasm of the end user to actually pass on the message to others. Using easily self replicated processes like individualized affiliate squeeze pages and interactive games or flash movies, the viral marketing ad can spread from the original ad to the friends of people who liked the ad or program. It is through this beyond-the-advertisement spread of interest in a product or service that gives it the name "viral", like a virus spreading a disease. Viral marketing techniques include researching who among the social networking websites has a high user potential. Then advertisements are formulated to appeal to this particular segment of the population.
It is hoped that with targeted marketing, the message will garner enough interest for the user to pass it on to his friends who might also be interested in it. While sample giveaways can be useful, one must make sure their viral marketing campaign is not in fact viewed as merely a publicity stunt. There is a dark side to viral marketing that needs to be avoided.
"Undercover" or "stealth" marketing involves having someone in the guise of a regular user promote and recommend the product or service to everyone he can. If this tactic is discovered then the backlash from people feeling they have been unfairly manipulated can have lasting ill effects on future advertisements from the company. As an added benefit beyond just creating good search engine optimization, the social potential on the Web2.0 makes it easier to target a specific niche and customize more precise and effective ad campaigns. People are readily affected by sound and pictures so Viral Video Optimization has come into being used with the quantitative marketing algorithms to determine who has the highest Social Networking Potential, ads that entertain as well as inform stand the greatest chance of being passed on to others. On a smaller scale viral marketing can be used in even simple places like the signature lines in forum posts.
Provided you can add helpful information when you post, you will give the appearance of being savvy about the topic at hand and thus make your recommendations seem to be of greater value. An effective e-mail signature line can also help keep the potential word-of-mouth advertising information passing around the web. Whichever approach you take to fitting your advertising to a specific market, be careful not to disenfranchise other potential customers.
Even though one niche may accept the risqué bit of advertising, unless they are your only target audience you could run the risk of offending many more. Remember, bad advertising spreads even more quickly than good. According to the marketing study "Secrets of Word Of Mouth Marketing" by George Silverman, while a person may tell three people about a good experience, they will most likely tell eleven people about a bad one.
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