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What Startups Need to Know About Viral Marketing


August 10, 2022 ( Newswire) The internet has forever changed the game that is business. If that seems like breaking news in any way, there certainly are an endless number of people curious to know the nature of the lifestyle that makes this possible. Everyone and their grandmother are aware of what companies like Amazon have grown to simply because they have played their cards right online. From finding the people with incredible foresight to be part of their team, to ensuring their online experience is flawless for the user, these types of companies have made the most of what the internet has to offer companies looking to get ahead.

If there is a specific type of company that is looking to get ahead more than the rest, it is the startup. Afterall, with little to no revenue to rely on, as well as next to zero work or relationship history, getting that startup to a point where the public is aware of it may prove difficult to say the least. What can a startup do when it finds themselves in a similar position? Journalist and businesswoman Germany Kent offered a solution, "One viral post can catapult your brand."

With anything online, there is more than what meets the eye when it comes to viral marketing. To flush out some of the broader ideas, we gathered some information startups need to know about viral marketing.

The definition of viral marketing

For the uninformed, the term viral marketing may seem like a lofty one reserved for the boardrooms of companies striving to be part of the Fortune 500. This is hardly the case. Anyone who wanted to find evidence of viral marketing would be hard pressed to find an industry which has not had their fair share of it. That is how widespread this practice has become. But what exactly is it? Thankfully, Tyler Read, Founder and Senior Editor from Personal Trainer Pioneer answered this question, "Viral marketing is just a fancy way of saying you're advertising online using sensationalism as your driving force. There are many ways of going about this but if your marketing message spreads quickly, you're doing just fine."

An example of this took place a few years ago when the popular restaurant IHOP announced on Twitter they were changing the letter p in their name to a b, with no information given about what the b stood for. From here, natural human curiosity took over and this story lit up the internet for days. From IHOP's perspective, mission accomplished.

What are the benefits?

Phillip Akhzar, CEO from Arka highlighted the advantages of this practice, "You can go several ways when looking at the benefits of viral marketing, to the point where you might get a bit lost. But the best of these might be how rapidly a startup can grow if they do it right."

On two counts, this statement is correct. First, when looking at the latter half of it, there are more than a handful of examples of startups who went from complete obscurity to trending worldwide overnight all thanks to the efforts they put into their viral marketing campaign. Second is the variety of benefits. These are things such as cheaper costs and more potential sales in general, all while leaving a better taste in the audience's proverbial mouth. After all, how a person feels and what they remember about a company can be influential moving forward. The list of benefits does not stop there, in fact, they are merely the tip of the iceberg. However, painting a picture solely of rainbows and butterflies will not serve to help a company make thought-through decisions.

What are the downsides?

A more accurate depiction of viral marketing involves looking at the downsides. The appeal of viral marketing is the potential to become something important without slaving away at it for years. People have gone to great lengths to secure this for their startup. As they have come to understand, using viral marketing does not guarantee a company will achieve overnight success. It is possible, but more than a little bit of luck, on top of high-level planning and skill, is required for this to take place.

Along the same lines, say that moment of going viral online does happen but the message the company intended to convey is perceived differently than intended or even poorly? This is not some hypothetical being presented here - more than a few companies have found themselves cut off at the knees by the public because of a simple misstep in their creation of the viral moment. Maxim Kan, Head of Marketing at Prom touched on this and more, "When you're dealing with viral marketing, you need to be careful. Even one wrong word could turn your opportunity for growth into a devastating blow. And know that the entirety of the internet is fickler than people themselves so don't take it personally if your idea doesn't go where you want it to."

Who is it right for?

This is the toughest question to answer yet as it is entirely subjective. For some of the largest companies in the world, viral marketing does not make sense because of the industry they exist in. Similarly, there are certain demographics of customers out there which will not respond well to viral marketing. This aspect could boil down to age or lifestyle but either way, it is necessary to realize that not everyone is in tune with the everyday happenings of the internet. Max Schwartzapfel, CMO from Fighting For You said as much, "Before deciding if your startup should move forward with viral marketing, evaluate the characteristics of your average customer, and see if they are the type of person to respond to viral marketing. If so, it is probably in your best interest, provided you do it well."

Everything presented here only begins to scratch the surface of viral marketing. Between the intricate practices that have evolved out of the rapid growth of the trend, and the numerous amounts of companies trying their hands at it, there is ample reason to understand how viral marketing and startups work together. Author Mari Smith offered advice for taking first steps into viral marketing, "The secret to getting results from your social networking is to act like a member, not a marketer."

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