The Viral Marketing Epidemic: A Marketer’s Dream
Viral marketing campaigns have the highest ROI for any marketing strategy that has ever been conceptualized. When a viral marketing campaign sets hearts and minds on fire, it reaches across a vast spectrum of target marketing segments. According to Kaplan and Haenlein, a viral marketing campaign combines compelling content and a bit of luck: hopefully, the audience will catch on and create hype (2011, p. 261). It’s important that the audience “gets” the message and becomes inspired to share it with their friends and family. The messaging must be just right for a campaign to go viral.
One instance of an attempted viral marketing campaign that didn’t catch is Sony’s “Charlie and Jeremy’s PSP blog” (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2011, p. 259). Sony crafted a fake blog dedicated to a teenager’s desire for a PSP for Christmas. Efforts fell short because readers were able to determine that the content was written by marketers and not teenagers. Sony was forced to admit to faking a blog. So, the thing about the campaign that went viral was the #fail that was the result of an overly-conceptualized marketing effort.
Beanie Babies and Salt Bae: Why?
Kaplan and Haenlein mentioned that the original form of viral marketing was word of mouth (2011, p. 254). The first thing that came to mind at the mention of word of mouth viral marketing was the ridiculously popular toy TY Beanie Babies. Beanie Babies are the hand-sized stuffed animals that set 90’s hearts on fire. I was in elementary school, and a few of my classmates’ parents let them stay home from school on the days ty released certain Beanie Babies they wanted for their collection.
I never understood the appeal of Beanie Babies (kind of like how I don’t understand certain viral memes today – that guy sprinkling salt on steak? Salt Bae: What?). Looking back, I wish I had partaken in the hype because some Beanie Babies today are valued upwards of about $5,000 (“The 10 Most Valuable Beanie Babies,” 2018). This is how viral marketing campaigns work. Even if they conceptually doesn’t make sense, it may be beneficial to buy into their hype because Beanie Babies.
Kaplan, A.M., & Haenlein, M. (2011). Two hearts in three-quarter time: How to waltz the social
media/viral marketing dance – 77319327. (2018, March 17). Retrieved from https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/content/77319327
The 10 Most Valuable Beanie Babies | CompleteSet. (2018). CompleteSet. Retrieved 17 March