By Abdul Wahid Khan:
Viral Marketing is a way of marketing in which the pre-existing channels available on the internet are used to induce a chain reaction about the message that the company wants to convey to the consumers. Channels used are social media, email marketing to count a few. It is simply like word of mouth marketing done online. People see your ads and if they like it, or in other terms, if the ad fits as a viral ad, then people share it with their network and the process goes on.
Many people say that it is good for only short-term strategy and cannot be followed in long run. They say that when the consumers get to know the reality by testing and using the products or services, they will no longer trust the company in the same way as they did after hearing electronic word of mouth. This is one point but it does not simply mean that it has no long-term advantages.
When something becomes viral, it increases organic ranking of the company in different search engines. It is not easy to get organic results but viral marketing can help you do so. Not only this, it also increases brand awareness. It develops several perceptions in the minds of consumers and if the message or the ad is good, then it really helps build strong brand image. It helps to establish a better relationship with customers and it makes the brand more trusted. Several brands in India like Hindustan Lever, Coke and Amway have been known to employ this form of marketing, so have others like CitiBank, Moster.com, Hotmail, etc.
It can be a fad sometimes but it has long lasting effects which are quite intangible. It is being standardized and better measures have now been introduced and have begun to be followed, which will make it a long-term tool to measure the Return on Investment and various other marketing tool effectiveness scales.