What is Viral Marketing?

Viral Marketing is often described as a Virus. Like a Virus, Viral Marketing should spread exponentially by using other host and their resources. It should also grow geometrically, doubling the size with each iteration:



Dr. Ralph Wilson pointed out that: “Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence.” The name viral marketing is particularly used for this kind of advertising on the web. Wilson also says that every viral marketing strategy should consider 6 points:

  1. Gives away products or services
  2. Provides for effortless transfer to others
  3. Scales easily from small to very large
  4. Exploits common motivations and behaviors
  5. Utilizes existing communication networks
  6. Takes advantage of others‘ resources


One good example is the Old Spice Ad:


“Give away products or services” means that you have to offer something special, something worth enough for people to share and distribute. 

“Provides for effortless transfer to others” means that it has to be easy to share the service with other people. So the Internet is predestinated for viral marketing.

“Scales easily from small to very large” means that you have to provide enough resources if your campaign is a success and many people follow you.

“Exploits common motivations and behaviors” means that a clever viral marketing campaign uses the desire of people to be cool and to be loved.

“Utilizes existing communication networks.” Everyone has his own networks. You have a close one with your family and friends and a weaker network with people you meet at work, neighbors and so on. Marketers try to use these networks. 

“Takes advantage of others‘ resources.” The more resources your ad use, the more people have the possibility to recognize it.