What Is Viral Marketing?
Viral Marketing is a marketing method where users share your content mainly on social media. The goal of viral marketing is to generate a monetary value through word of mouth, and it's named so because the content spreads like a virus from person to person.
It's a passive marketing mechanism because viral marketing only occurs when someone starts to spread the word. So can anyone start it? The answer is yes, but it has to be triggered by your audience, which means there's not much you can do as a content publisher except to keep creating interesting - sharable - content.
Is It Different From Referral Marketing?
We're only discussing the two terminologies here. Both are "word-of-mouth" marketing methods and they're basically the same. You could say,
- If you ask your audience to refer your business to others, perhaps by giving each one of them a unique referral link and offer a reward, then that's referral marketing. Whereas if you say "please share", then that's viral marketing. Or,
- If your campaign actually "goes viral", it is viral marketing. Or you could say,
- Referral marketing is when your actual product or business is referred by your existing customer to someone new, whereas viral marketing is when your advertising content is shared by any media users.
I'm A Viral Marketing Loser!
Okay, that's the definition done. How difficult is viral marketing and what are the problems?
I'm such a useless viral marketer. I have over 50k Twitter followers and thousands of Facebook friends - I've built them manually (i.e. followed people back without using a third party tool). Yet, my contents are hardly shared. I can think of three reasons;
- Many of my followers are bots, fake accounts and crypto-spammers.
- My engagement rate is disastrously low. I don't spend enough time, and merely share my blog posts using Hootsuite in a robotic manner.
- Critically, my contents are boring. Let's make money online. You can work from home. There's nothing unique about my posts or whatsoever.
When I've actually written these down, the solution to each problem seems clear & straightforward on paper. (1) Spend some more time in engaging! (2) Ignore bots and spammers! (3) Improve the content! Easier said than done.
Now, if you feel familiar with my problems, read on (and share your thoughts if you can, by leaving a comment below!) This is a viral marketing loser talking, trying to get my devastatingly mediocre content sorted to make at least a few more people want to share.
How I "Finally" Make Over $6,000 Monthly Income
"The most valuable thing I've ever done!"
1. Non-Responsive Social Media Followers
As I mentioned earlier, I don't use a third party app to get followers, and I can't stop the number of bot followers, spammers and fake accounts from growing. (Although I do use a third party app to clean up unfollowers.) I guess there's no harm leaving as it is.
Although I've noticed some clever bot Twitter users automatically react to certain hashtags and retweet my tweets for me. Soo they're not totally useless (unless they're retweeting to other bots!) For now they might not deliver an engagement value that humans do, but considering the significance of AI developments year on year, it's interesting to see what they can do next. In our favor, of course.
2. "Engaging" - What Do You REALLY Mean By That?
How to increase the number of your social followers; engage with them. Engage with your audience. Huh. It's easy to say that, and I'm not looking to increase the number of followers/friends. So I search for the advice as to how to increase the social media engagement rates, most of them are tips such as;
- Make an interval between each post by using a social post tool - I do that.
- Use an image - I always do.
- Use hashtags - Oh yeah.
- Use emojis - I do that too.
- Use GIFs - I don't do that often, but I'll try. A 50 year old marketer posting an image of a girl blowing bubblegum, jumping up and down "Yay!" - quite peculiar, but I will try my best.
- Create and share valuable content - yes, that's probably the biggest challenge. I'll come back to it later.
What I'm currently NOT doing to engage with other users are;
- Plan your time to spend on social media, and
- Leave as many comments on posts by others.
"Plan your time" means that, don't get yourself glued to the smartphone before you go to sleep, browse aimlessly and end up spending 2 hours in bed. The same 2 hours should be spent in showing your reaction to the posts by others, by leaving some meaningful comments...
Okay, that's something I think I can do, and I will do from now on. I will spend an hour in the morning, another hour in the evening to post comments on posts by others, starting today.
3. Creating "Viral" Content
People are not sharing my posts because they're not share-worthy. They may not be totally uninteresting, but not exciting enough for people to want to share. Then what makes a social post share-worthy? What kind of posts of others do I share? I can think of 5 right now;
#1 Useful Content
For example if someone's offering a web tool for free but only for a limited period. Then I want to let others know of the chance to take advantage of it.
As an affiliate marketer, I get to see plenty of free product offers. I should proactively research more of them (though it can be time-consuming!) and spread the word often then.
#2 Unique Content
Other useful contents may include "how-to" guides, but I must admit I rarely share someone else's article unless I find it unique. And that's my fault - for not being able to get on top of trends and find something unique.
Creating unique content is challenging, but so is finding a uniqueness out of someone else's content.
For example, I see 3 x different websites that claim "10 ways to generate leads" and think, meh, they're all the same, nothing's eye-opening. But it may just be how I see things - they don't seem like "eye-opening" ideas simply because I'm bigoted. These "how-to" sites exist for a purpose and they are useful for some. I should stop being cynical about everything I pick and be more positive!
#3 Positive Content
Talking about positivity - I do share a lot of motivational articles and quotes, which are popular (i.e. re-shared subsequently). Heartwarming stories, success stories and optimistic way of thinking use their positive energy to attract positive people. Perhaps I should be openly, positively emotional when I post my content.
#4 Shocking News / Warning
I often share some shocking news, LGBT activists arrested and tortured in Russia/Ukraine, for example. Or warning such as Huawei's new cybersecurity concerns. They are definitely share-worthy, though very few of them are directly related to my niche. Online scam warnings tend to be shared often, so I should continue to post those.
#5 Entertaining Content
Jokes, funny stories, quiz definitely go viral. I could do some jokes related to my niche, and make the most out of the Thrive Quiz Builder too!
Viral Marketing - How To Get More Shares
So to summarize, here's what I'm going to do to put an end to my barely engaging social network use, and hopefully to get my posts more shared as part of my viral marketing plan.
- Spend a good couple of hours a day in leaving as many comments on posts by others.
- Proactively share useful content - practically useful such as free offers.
- My "mediocre" web content cannot be improved overnight. I just have to keep trying my best. But I'll stop sharing any of my webpages without adding a brief explanation...
- ...Which should be unique, positive, warning or entertaining.
If you have any advice, do let me know by leaving a comment below - thanks for reading!
Hi Ray, first of all I love that Morrissey song!
I’m impressed by your post content to see how you analyse your social marketing strategy and in it to improve. I agree with you that the use of the third party follow software are all useless. I’ve tried some in the past but they are bot users and they never respond to you.
I hope things will all go well with your viral marketing. Good luck!
Hi Gareth, thanks for your advice! I don’t really know a good, genuine social interaction software, though SocialCaptain seems to get real comments and likes. I love the Morrissey song, though he didn’t write it. Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it!
Hi, I’m so inspired by your post. Personally I wouldn’t spend so many hours trying to connect with social media followers. I know engagement is important but spend 2 hours each day means you spend 60 hours per month, that’s a lot of time just networking with people that you’ve never met. I don’t see viral marketing so important. People will come naturally if your content is interesting enough. thanks for the awesome post.
Hi Adnan, thanks for your advice. Yes I do realize that’s a lot of hard work. People who are looking for a relationship try to hit on me and I may be wasting a lot of time answering their DM’s…! I think you’re right. Still early days, I’ll keep trying for a while and see what happens. Thank you!
Hi, I’ve never even heard about viral marketing. I have heard about referral marketing. I just read your information then know the difference now.
It is very hard to let other people do marketing for you without asking them. But your information helps me to learn to improve it. I will try your methods.
Hi Mikhail, thanks for your comment, I appreciate it. I wish you all the best of luck! Let me know of the progress if you can!