… is defined generally as a marketing phenomenon which facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message. It is entirely dependent on a high pass along rate from person to person, and if this is achieved, the architects of the marketing message stand likely to benefit from a snowball effect of new viewers.
Online, there are now greater opportunities and gateways for content to be viewed, enjoyed, and passed along. There are the obvious social networking channels which can be a match made in heaven (or hell!) for viral enthusiasts, and social news sites exist for the very use of listing content made by the people, and loved by the people.
I used the word ‘enjoyed’ earlier when describing a users involvement with viral marketing, but really, this isn’t strictly the case. A well implemented viral campaign needs to spark strong emotion with the end user whilst simultaneously (though it’s not mandatory) staying in tune with the brand it is representing. Sometimes, appreciation for a powerful and well constructed message which pulls at emotions such as fear, shock or even sadness, can be as effective as virals which amaze, entertain and satisfy.
It gets trickier, as the best, most memorable and successful viral campaigns need to be original, fresh and occasionally brave. A niche idea with an inventive concept attached to it. A comedy piece, a game, an artistic creation, or a useful tool or service which serves to aid and inform, are all rough areas.