A series of mysterious videos were posted on YouTube between December 2009 and March 2010 by the name of “iamamiwhoami”. These videos lead to a wildfire of speculation online, later to be found the videos were a part of a viral campaign by the musician Jonna Lee. This was nothing but an advertising technique on her part which kept people engrossed successfully for a period of four months. This is one the many examples of what is known as “Viral Marketing”.
Viral Marketing can be defined as a marketing strategy which aims at spreading of a message created by a marketer through individuals who come in contact with it and cause it to spread via sharing. Viral marketing is an electronic equivalent of the traditional term “word of mouth”.
It may take a form of video clips, flash games, e-books, images, etc. E-mail was one of the original viral marketing strategies. A commonly cited example is of Hotmail. In 1996, Hotmail attached “Get your free e-mail at Hotmail” at the bottom of every e-mail sent by a Hotmail user. By 1998, Hotmail gained about 12 million subscribers.
Douglas Rushkoff in his article “Media Virus: Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture”, explains the concept of Viral Marketing briefly. If an advertisement reaches a user he becomes “infected” with its idea. Now when he shares this idea he “infects” others with it. This process continues and a chain of spontaneous sharing of these messages of the marketer is successfully formed.
Viral Marketing has its own advantages. Nothing can beat it in the kind of exposure it creates. Although the viruses are smarter in the way that it takes a guise of another activity, making it automatically interesting to the customer, the target audience should still be taken into notice by the marketer. The masquerade of “free” is something that attracts the attention of every user in the market. This lesson can be taken from Hotmail.
The crux of viral marketing is spreading the virus like wildfire, while keeping in mind to keep it intriguing. “iamamiwhoami” kept her audience riveted to her channel by creating mysterious codes in her series of videos. V-marketing strategies have been used by several big companies such as Microsoft, Pepsi, BMW, Nike, etc. Thus, it is an effective way of promoting one’s marketing ideas through individual with high social networking potential.