People next to the Golden Gate Bridge

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is any marketing technique that induces websites or users to pass on a marketing message to other sites or users, creating a potentially exponential growth in the message's visibility and effect. A popular example of successful viral marketing is Hotmail, a company now owned by Microsoft, that promoted its services and its own advertisers' messages in every user's email notes.

There are three criteria for basic viral marketing:

  • the messenger,
  • the message,
  • the environment.

All three criteria must be effectively executed in order for a viral message to be successful.

Some techniques for effective marketing include targeting the appropriate audience and channels, creating videos, offering a valuable service or product for free, creating an emotional appeal, social outreach and enabling easy sharing and downloading.