The Internet has spawned a number of different business models. In so doing it has resulted in new ways to do old things and even newer ways to do new things. One not-so-new business model that has been reinvented by today’s technology is viral marketing.

While the word viral may at first conjure up negative images, in terms of marketing it’s all good. In fact some marketers avoid the word, preferring to use one of the alternative terms. But whatever name it is called its aim is the same; to cause a marketing message to grow exponentially.

What is Viral Marketing?

In simple terms, viral marketing refers to the process of passing on a marketing message through just about any means available online. It is dependent on others to pass the messages along; the more the message gets passed around the more successful the campaign. Some highly successful viral messaging avenues are Youtube, Google Video and JibJab.

Other popular terms for viral marketing techniques are:

Wildfire marketing
Avalanche marketing
Organic marketing
Network marketing
Top Five Viral Marketing Techniques
A large number of techniques may be used to pass along a viral marketing message. Six of the most popular and successful are:

Get to people’s emotions: Once the message reaches the audience on an emotional level, it will get passed on as each one who gets it wants to share with someone else. The trick is to get people to react to the message, and it doesn’t matter if they love it or hate it. What is important is to get the audience to react.
Make it easy for others to pass on information from your site by installing links that can be easily emailed. If you write a newsletter, provide a section where friends can easily recommend it to each other. Use links that are easy to remember and a website address that is search engine friendly.
Article marketing is another good way to get your message across. Make it possible for others to post your article on their website with a link back to the original source or some other means of attribution to you. This attribution is generally in the form of copyright information. Article marketing is one of the most quickly growing forms of viral marketing campaign.
Set up an affiliate program for your product or service. As more persons join your program they will get others to buy or become affiliates themselves. What better way to market a product or service than have others pass along the information for you? This is one of the key components of viral marketing.
Give away something for nothing. It is a fact that people like receiving freebies. Some successful viral marketing campaigns got their messages out simply by giving out useful products, information and services. One example would be the giving away of a free software which is really useful, but not as powerful as the paid pro version. These freebies must spread your message.
Dare to be different. People remember and react to new, unexpected things. So if you want to capture your audience and make them want to share with others, capture their imagination with something different. Quirky is good as people like to laugh at others or share others’ joys.
In essence, viral marketing is the process of creating a buzz on the Internet. The overall idea of a viral marketing campaign is for one little message or idea to spread like wildfire. Your goal is to capture people’s imaginations, touch their heart or even tickle their funny bone. It is rightly referred to as emotional marketing for a reason. Unlike viruses that make you sick, viral marketing techniques are definitely cool to share.