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Top 5 Viral Marketing Campaigns of All Time

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 1
Viral Marketing(120502)

The underlying goal of viral marketing is to get your audience to promote your content for you. If you can do that, if you can have thousands of people promoting your content for you instead of you doing it all by yourself, your content will truly go viral. Now, how exactly do you get thousands of people to do that for you? Here are a few examples of how these famous viral marketing campaigns did it.

What it was:
An impossibly random ad for Old Spice. Chances are, you've already seen the video. If not, you need click the video above.

Why it worked:
There are several reasons why it worked, the first reason being that the target demographic was the age group of 18-25, who are the most active on social media and determine what is "cool." In short, the people of this demographic are the promoters of new trends.

The second reason is the humor and spontaneity of the ad. This age group loves humor and spontaneity, and when they find something like this, they share it with their friends.

Thirdly, not only was the video itself funny, but it provided fodder for comedy and Old Spice Guy's catchphrases were spread all over the internet. So much so, that at one point, it was sufficient to say "I'm on a horse" to get people laughing.

Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, the ad is only 33 seconds long. They squeezed in an incredible amount of humor and spontaneity into just 33 seconds. Not only does that magnify the overall effect of the ad, but it also doesn't take up anyone's timeto watch it.  So when I share it with my friend, he/she is not going to say that they don't have time. It's only half-a-minute long.

4- The Obama Campaign

The Obama Campaign

What it was:
By 2004, Facebook had become the most popular site on the internet. By the first Obama Campaign in 2008, advertisers had spent four years refining the methods for tapping into this incredibly powerful marketing tool. Obama's campaign realized early on, that the most important part of being successful in politics was brand-management.

Why it worked:
The ubiquity of the internet allowed supporters to both state their opinions on the campaign and actively participate with minimum effort.This was the perfect platform for a political campaign because of the interactivity and the close social connections that social media brings along with it.

3- Hotmail

Hotmail's Viral Marketing Campaign

What it was:
Hotmail has lost their popularity ever since the rise of Yahoo and Gmail,  so you may be wondering why I'm mentioning them here. However, in the early days of the internet, hotmail was quite... hot.

Get this: Hotmail was started in July 1996. By then end of the month, they had 20,000 subscribers. By January 1997, their one millionth user had subscribed. With an explosion of growth like that, it's worth looking into what they did to gain so many users in such a short amount of time.

Why it worked:
It was actually a very simple idea, one of those ideas where you wonder, "Why didn't I think of that!?" At the bottom of every email sent out by their users were ads promoting the service "Get your free email at hotmail."  This worked perfectly because at that time, email was not free.

2- Gmail

Gmail's Viral Marketing Campaign

What it was:
Google is one of the largest companies in the world with one of the smallest advertising budgets. That's why it's no surprise that they spread Gmail purely through word-of-mouth advertising. You could only join if you were invited by a current member, which gave Gmail a sense of exclusiveness.

 Why it worked:
People are a lot more likely to want something if it's promoted by a friend or family member, and if you think about it, that's how Gmail invites work. Not only that, but Gmail's exclusive invite gave it the feeling of an elite club. When you combine that with the fact that its advanced features and functionality far outstripped its competitors, the Gmail was an invite that was nearly impossible for anyone to want to resist.

1- Facebook

Facebook's Viral Marketing Campaign

What it was:
Facebook is currently the most popular web site in the world, so when talking about viral marketing campaigns, it only makes sense to talk about how they gained their popularity.

Facebook started out in Harvard, as you probably know, and in the beginning, admission was only granted to Harvard students. Soon, it spread to other universities as well, and eventually, everyone started using it. It's very easy to sign up. Instead of having to make up your own username like you do for other sites, you simply sign up and login with your email address, which you were aldready using. The simplicity of signing up was just one of many marketing techniques. But I want to focus on one particular technique they used to gain more users that was both, very simple, and very effective.

Why it worked:
Their secret was their "Find friends" application. Now note that Facebook was not the first one to invent this. Their "Find friends" application was just their own variation of "Tell-a-friend" forms that many other sites had already been using long before them. However, what made Facebook successful was the sheer simplicity of the application. With just one click of a button, you could invite ALL of your email contacts to your Facebook. The friends that were already on Facebook would be sent friend requests, and the ones that are not on Facebook would be invited to sign up.

In a typical "Tell-a-friend" form, however, you have to manually type in the contact information of all of your friends, and no one has the time for that.

The most important thing to remember is that at the end, your collective audience will be the ones who will more effectively spread your content, not you. This is the basic idea of viral marketing. So with that in mind, create something that people will want to share with their friends. Create something that you would want to share with your friends.



Apr 5, 2013 1:58pm
hotmail's idea was so simple and so great and underlines the importance of doing something for the first time
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