If you are reading this then something got your attention.  Maybe it was the fear inducing title that drew you in or maybe it was the cleverly chosen picture that made you ignore the first warning and still keep going forward. What matters most is that it got your attention. Hopefully, if you think it’s a good post you might share it with some friends and they will share it with their friends and so on. So, thank you initial readers.  You will now be known as the “patient zeros”. You didn’t mean to start a pandemic but you did and now you and the people closest to you are infected.

This seems pretty gloomy but in reality this is how we changed the term “viral” from something as horrifying as the Black Death to something as equally horrifying as Rebecca Black’s Friday. But fear not virus carriers –not all pandemics are terrible in the world of viral marketing. Viral marketing is the combination of two of my favorite things,  marketing and pandemics. Thanks to viral marketing, people learned about Microsoft’s Hotmail email system (link or reference), Isaiah Mustafa (aka the Old Spice guy) or more importantly the guys from EPIC MEAL TIME!

Don’t worry; I haven’t intentionally infected you for no reason.  There is a reason you are reading this and I’m hoping you’ll get something out of it. What you choose to do with this information is up to you.  Perhaps you’ll learn ways to vaccinate yourself from viral marketing tactics or (if you want to watch the world burn), spread them.

So what is viral marketing?

According to Wikipedia, viral marketing is a marketing technique that uses pre-existing social networks and other technologies to produce increases in brand awareness through self-replicating viral processes. This process is organic in nature; meaning that it is voluntarily spread by individuals (willingly or unwillingly).

So, a prime example would be folk and game artist, Jonathan Coulton.

Coulton is known for his work with the Portal songs: Still Alive and Want you gone

But, let’s take one of his viral successes, RE: Your Brains (a song about zombies).

Re: Your Brains” was released by Coulton on March 24th, 2006. It quickly became one of Jonathan’s most recognizable songs, becoming the first song to receive a World of Warcraft video by Spiff.

Let’s say you heard this song and liked it so much you posted on Facebook or talked to your friends about it. It’s the equivalent of becoming a zombie and biting one of your friends, infecting them with this viral marketing nugget.  Now you are infected and you just infected your friend, we’ll call him Tom, and then Tom infects his friends and you continue to infect your friends and they infect their friends until the whole world has been turned into zombies.

Like a zombie pandemic, viral marketing happens suddenly and quickly but just as easy as it came in it can be over in mere days, just like the below video.

The key to effective viral marketing: create and execute an idea that’s intriguing enough to get consumers to interact.

Since you are infected with this knowledge, spread it and continue the pandemic. We need more brains!

Or, infect others by sharing your favorite viral marketing campaign or video examples in the comment section.

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