Marketers did not invent word-of-mouth, its human nature to tell stories and share experiences (good and bad) with others. Word-of-mouth marketing leverages this very natural behaviour to tell authentic stories about brands and products. Then the consumers tell a few friends about the stories and if their friends go and try out the product or service and they also like it, then they’ll spread the words and recommend to other friends. The long lineup for egg tarts outside of Tai Cheong Bakery is word-of-mouth. Nevertheless, the buzz for most word-of-mouth campaigns eventually fades (except for Google).
Viral marketing spreads quicker, the compounding function is sometimes built into the product (eg. hotmail). The more people use it, the more people see it and then even more people use it, again and again with geometrically increasing power, doubling with each iteration.
Viral campaigns may take the form of videos, music, images, games, ebooks, mobile app, branded utility, branded content, etc. (Please click on the links to view samples for each category, i’ll be sharing more interesting demos on this blog so check back often!)
Viral marketing is only as good as the idea or concept it promotes and I have seen lots of entertaining ads that went viral but didn’t market the brands or products in a meaningful, tangible way.