You’ve probably heard the term viral marketing. In this age of social media, lightning fast internet, and a mobile phone in every consumer’s pocket, who hasn’t heard of viral marketing? If done correctly, it is the equivalent of running multiple advertising campaigns, all at a fraction of the cost. What about this equation doesn’t seem like being granted a license to print money?

It seems almost too good to be true. The truth is; in many cases it is too good to be true. Viral marketing is an extremely difficult thing to get right, with many efforts made going either largely unnoticed, or in some cases having the opposite effect as desired. Given that in order for something to go viral, it must be eye-catching, many efforts gain notoriety in a negative sense.

How Does It work?

The mechanics of a viral marketing campaign aren’t especially difficult to understand. A product, say mobile betting sites, needs exposure. A standard campaign of online banners and adverts can be run, but costs are relatively high, and results are average, to say the least. Alternatively, the brand name of the sites could be tied into a seemingly unrelated video.

The video spreads like wildfire across the internet, with each viewer passing it along to friends and family. Again; the intended product is not necessarily tied to the content of the video itself. But by the nature of the video itself being spread, the brand is likewise spread far and wide.

What Works, What Doesn’t?

If you’re excited at the prospects, and are in the middle of writing up your viral marketing campaign as we speak, hold your horses. The question is; what would the content of that video have to be, in order for the intended effect to work? What makes the average person spread advertising around? The answer to the question is this; there is no way of knowing for sure.

As more and more viral marketing advertisers try the same approach, it has become increasingly more difficult to launch campaigns that are successful. The video must invoke awe, laughter, or outrage, in order to succeed. But achieving this is harder than ever before, as the online landscape becomes increasingly more saturated.

Backfires

As viral marketing campaigners struggle to find a foothold, they take greater and greater risks. Extreme measures are taken, and often misjudgements are made. Some viral campaigns backfire, bringing outrage to a brand, and ultimately dooming it.

So although viral marketing is a tempting prospect, it is often a far more risky undertaking than many first assume. More so; the very aspects of human nature that help the campaigns succeed can also result in it backfiring drastically. Finding the balance between success and a backfire is tough, especially since going unnoticed is more likely to be the result.

Do You need It?

So the question to ask is; are viral marketing campaigns really what your business needs, and are they work the immense risks involved? The truth is that most companies are far better off relying on more traditional means of advertising.