19 Pros and Cons of Viral Marketing

If you’re online right now, then there is a good chance you’d love the opportunity to go viral. With viral marketing, you’re able to receive high marks for credibility without having to contact each and every potential prospect. Viral marketing also costs very little to keep spreading, but you may also have your message reach people who have no interest in what you offer and may create negative feedback for you because of that.

The pros and cons of viral marketing are many. Here are some of the key points to consider before pursuing this type of opportunity.

What Are the Pros of Viral Marketing?

1. You get to market your business in a new way.
Viral marketing allows you to reach out to potential customers that may not otherwise hear your brand message. This allows you to potentially enter new markets or target new demographics, expanding the total number of available prospects. It’s a marketing chain that eventually leads to the potential of higher revenues.

2. The amount of money that gets saved is ridiculous.
Viral marketing allows you to rely on your customers and prospects to keep your marketing message going. It’s a positive experience, in general terms, because going viral requires an expected emotion or reaction that people want to share with each other. You no longer need to advertise to specific groups because they want to engage with your brand already.

3. It adds creativity to your marketing efforts.
Just because you put your work out online doesn’t mean it will go viral. You must be creative and focus on the key points of your brand at the same time in order to stand out. This allows you to find new ways to market your message, especially if you’ve been stuck in a rut. Even if your marketing doesn’t go viral, you’ll still likely benefit from increased customer activity.

4. You break through the white noise of modern marketing.
People today are exposed to hundreds of brand messages throughout the day. This creates an effect on an individual which causes them to ignore most messages. With viral marketing, you’re able to break through the clutter of all the information that is offered through daily marketing to make a real impact on the consumer. This makes your brand message more effective.

5. It takes pressure off of your product or service.
With viral marketing, you can create a buzz about a new product or service without needing to produce a certain “wow” factor with what is being offered. You’re able to create a buzz through your communication efforts instead, which takes the pressure off of your items to deliver.

6. Viral marketing causes a different type of interruptive marketing.
Viral marketing uses a type of word-of-mouth marketing to deliver results in most instances. This creates more of an endorsement than it does a traditional marketing outreach. Even if a product is not necessarily liked, the fact that it is being recommended by a family member or a friend means that it is having a positive impact.

7. You’re able to build an enhanced marketing list.
Even if a viral outreach effort doesn’t result in a sale, there is a good chance that it will help you to build an enhanced marketing list. You may have more people sign up for your email marketing. There will likely be more people liking your Facebook page or following your Twitter or Instagram accounts. This allows you to create more future marketing opportunities in addition to the increased likelihood of better revenues.

8. You can achieve a lot of growth.
Viral marketing allows you to get a huge surge of traffic in a short amount of time. When it is done right, you can maintain those traffic levels and build up the reputation of your brand more quickly than traditional marketing efforts would typically allow.

9. Viral marketing can offer instant credibility.
Since viral marketing often relies on the concept of a word-of-mouth endorsement, you’re able to gain more credibility on an individualized level for a greater period of time. This credibility then leads to a greater level of visibility, which then creates more opportunities to convert prospects into paying customers.

10. You can take viral marketing offline.
Because viral marketing is essentially a more complex method of word-of-mouth marketing, it becomes possible to go viral offline too. All you need to do is get your key message points consistent and have materials available to support certain claims within your message. This allows you to target even more consumers with the one-on-one message that can be very effective in attracting new prospects to your brand.

11. Viral marketing can build relationships.
Times may be changing, but people still prefer to do business with brands and companies that they feel connected to in some way. A Facebook like might be the equivalent of a handshake. By building relationships, you’re able to build consumer loyalty, and that gives you the opportunity for repeat business. There may still be vagueness in the message, but sometimes that is what is required for a bond to begin forming.

What Are the Cons of Viral Marketing?

1. Once viral marketing is unleashed, there is less overall control.
This means you do not control how people get to interact with your message. If there are issues with the marketing campaign or it happens to go viral in a negative way, then this can cause an immediate and sometimes irreparable event to your branding.

2. Not every interested individual will share your message.
Viral marketing requires you to target the right people in your demographics. There are plenty of people who may be interested in what you have to say, but they won’t share what you have to say with other people. If you don’t have contacts that are willing to start sharing, the chances of your marketing efforts going viral are going to be quite low.

3. You must keep influencing your marketing message.
Many marketing efforts just require you to setup your initial message and then you can broadcast. Because viral marketing is more engaging on an individualized level, you must stay plugged into the message on a daily basis to limit the negative content that can sometimes be generated.

4. It can be a waste of time.
If your viral marketing efforts do not reach the intended audience, then you’ll have wasted your time – and your money. Sometimes the best solution is to ignore viral marketing for a more traditional outreach effort. You may find that your costs per interaction may be a lot higher when making a viral marketing surge instead of a more traditional campaign because of the uncertainties that are involved.

5. People can associate your marketing efforts with irritation.
Ever have a telemarketer call you when you’re trying to have dinner? Isn’t interruptive marketing a bit irritating? That’s what viral marketing is. It becomes a nuisance because people become exposed to your brand message around every corner. Even campaigns that are initially attractive can become irritating after constant exposure. This means there is an equal chance that your marketing message will be ignored or deleted.

6. Some potential customers may be turned off by viral marketing.
Viral marketing can happen two ways: organically or artificially. Organic viral marketing creates an invitation. Artificial viral marketing feels a lot like spam to many people. If your efforts are more of the latter, then you’re running the risk of some potential customers turning away from your brand because they don’t like to do business with a company that uses this type of marketing.

7. Viral marketing can be difficult to measure.
Marketing efforts must be measurable in order to determine the value that can be obtained from it. Since viral marketing is always more of a hit or miss scenario, there is no way to really tell what your ROI is going to be. Some campaigns may go viral right away. Others may take several months to go viral. There are many that won’t go viral at all. You must figure out some sort of metric to determine value before beginning so you’re not left wondering if you made an impact.

8. Market nuances can change your results in unpredictable ways.
The world may be more global than ever before, but there are still cultural and societal norms that are different for many. What may be a positive experience for some may be a negative experience for others based solely on their environment. Nuances in socioeconomic messages can change the results of viral marketing in unpredictable ways, sometimes long after the message has been introduced.

The pros and cons of viral marketing show that it can be a positive, low-cost solution when it is done right. It will always be a hit-or-miss proposition, but with meaningful metrics put into place before beginning the campaign, you’ll be able to know if this is an investment that makes sense for your brand.

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