Internet Viral Marketing

After looking at Internet viral marketing successes and flops I decided to add to my article about applying viral marketing principles by building on some more techniques that distinguish a good online marketing strategy. Whether or not your goal is to actually go “viral” with your sales and marketing message, these tips will enable you to make the most of the power of Internet viral marketing.

Internet Viral Marketing

After you have built in the 3 ingredients of networks, passability and remarkability, try and incorporate some of these methods into your own online marketing campaign. Remember that this is a work in progress and while you may not see overnight success, you cannot afford to neglect the fact that most successful companies today are the most connected (online and offline!).

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Internet Viral Marketing Tip #1:
Create Supergroups

Who are your most passionate customers? Can you connect with them online? These questions form the basis of social media marketing which I discuss separately but for now, think about ways of creating and nurturing a community of your superusers who will then create buzz. Traditionally, ways of doing this offline include events, discussion groups, promotions and so forth. Here are some ideas about creating online buzz and making the most of viral marketing concepts.

Internet Viral Marketing


How can you connect with customers online? You may have an e-mail mailing list, contribute to online forums and regularly provide valuable content in some shape or form, be it by blogging, writing articles or posting videos or audio podcasts. Your website can also have links to share articles via RSS and posting to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.


The lowest form of engagement and the primary sales and marketing methodology of the past is a one-way monologue. This is very different than the dialog that is the goal of both Internet viral marketing and social media marketing. In the first of these, your goal is to create remarkable messages that, by definition, people will talk about to others. In the latter, your goal is to create conversation with your community and use it as a springboard for groundswell that will promote your brand.


A great example of the power of supergroups is the promotion of a new Harry Potter theme park described by David Meerman Scott in his well-known paper on Internal viral marketing. Rather than rely on traditional marketing, Universal Orlando Resort cultivated a supergroup of just 7 mega-fans from Harry Potter websites and then empowered them to spread the word. Use your supergroup of committed consumers to strengthen your product, service and brand and then get the message out there!

Internet Viral Marketing Tip #2:
Create Alternate Realities

Internet Viral Marketing

A common theme I came across when researching Internet marketing successes is the concept of creating whole new worlds in order to sell a product, service or idea. While this may sound like a lot to take on, you do not have to go to the lengths that the producers of the hit TV show “Lost” or the movie “Cloverfield” did in reinforcing alternate realities. Just ask yourself: how can I create a theme and / or tie my product or service into the real life of my customers?

Online “Tie-ins”

There is no end to the ancillary and even imaginary ideas, products and services being used by big companies nowadays in order to create online buzz. The “Halo” video game franchise created a mini alternate reality game called “I Love Bees” that created a large following. While you may not create whole new websites – not to mention design space creatures -, can you think of ways to tie your business into existing fads or complement your current branding in some new way?

Offline “Tie-ins”

Just like made-up online mysteries, histories, mythologies, worlds, companies, people, events and more are complimenting real ones to help sell everything from video games to cars, offline merchandising and tie-ins have long been a traditional sales and marketing employ. However, can you expand the scope of your offline tie-ins from simply providing promotional stationery, T-shirts and the like? Have you thought of sponsorships, creative partnerships or event promotion? How about creating your own theme and use unusual creative tie-ins in order to help promote your brand and story? Remember to promote your offline tie-ins online!


The reason that Internet viral marketing and social media marketing works is that it is more relatable for consumers. Nowadays, customers would rather trust a friend than an advertiser on TV when making a buying choice. Wouldn't you? Sales and marketing online is far less formal and less about your company and more informal and about your customer. That is why you need to get to know them and what makes them tick through dialog. All customers really are different and in order to become more successful you must link what you do to your customers' values and lifestyles.

Internet Viral Marketing Tip #3:

Internet Viral Marketing

Creating alternate realities can be simplified for common sales and marketing purposes into creating a story. The stronger your story, the more impact it will have on your customers and the way to make your story strong is to repeat it often and in many ways. I have already talked about Integrated Marketing Communication and it is a piece of the puzzle that lies at the heart of the power of Internet viral marketing and social media marketing.


You may have heard of the old sales and marketing adage that a customer has to be exposed to your brand 7 times before they make a purchasing decision. During this process they go down a Buyer's Journey from being unaware to aware about and then becoming sold on your brand. Keep feeding your customers with valuable educational content and updates to stimulate conversation and generate sustained buzz.

Mutliple Channels

The traditional offline channels of the Marketing Communication Mix have now been supplemented by just as many – if not more! - online (electronic) communication channels. While you do not have to do everything, you should definitely be thinking about doing more than you have in the past. Doing something new is just about taking the time to learn about it and then try it.

One Message

The message you deliver through the various channels you adopt should be unified and be about ”you”, your customer. The reason I called my methodology Sales and Marketing for “You” is to remind you to use the word ”you” as much as possible in communications. That way, you know that the focus is on your customer and their needs and not on you. A crucial part of the social aspect of marketing today is that your message should also be more informal and personable.

Internet Viral Marketing Tip #4:

Internet Viral Marketing

Interactive Marketing Communication is also something I have discussed in detail and, along with being integrated in your sales and marketing activities, is another cornerstone of success in your online marketing strategy. Remember that the main difference between traditional marketing and Internet viral marketing and social media marketing is that the latter are about creating conversations with customers. This is complemented by engaging your customers by giving them things to do.


A simple way to facilitate online interaction is letting your audience share their thoughts. This can be as simple as providing comments sections on your website or blog and asking for feedback at every opportunity. The whole of social media marketing is predicated around this concept of mutual conversation. Ask yourself if you can then tie this interaction into a concrete action: is there a quiz or a competition or an online event or engagement or something else that customers can partake in?


If you think about it, offline activities are by definition interactive because they take place in real life. A phone call is interactive and so is picking up and reading a brochure or visiting a shop. Of the countless sales and marketing ideas and approaches out there, think about which ones you can incorporate for your business and areas where your customer can interact with you as well as with brand-building devices and promotional items. Make sure your offline activities complement and reinforce your online ones and that your message is consistent.


More than ever, relationships are key to building your business and it has been shown that the more engaged a company is with the general public, the more successful it is. The best promotional tool may still be a handshake and a friendly conversation but now these can be accomplished online with more people and in less time. Interacting with your customers should not simply be a way for you to sell and market more but rather an opportunity for you to get to know your customers and build a brand of personalized sharing and caring (as cheesy as that might sound!).

Internet Viral Marketing Tip #5:
Create Experiences

Consumers today are inundated with traditional advertising messages via TV, radio and print and so the point is to supplement these with newer and more creative ways of reaching people and allow consumers to experience you in different ways. A message that is heard is less effective than one that is seen as well which is less effective than one that is also experienced. I can't resist using another movie example to talk about how you can create alternate realties or themes and use integrated and interactive promotional methods in order to create customer experiences.

Internet Viral Marketing

Why So Serious?

Producers turned this tagline from the blockbuster 2008 movie "The Dark Knight" into an Internet viral marketing campaign that built on intense speculation about actor Heath Ledger's Joker character. The appearance of The Joker was kept hidden in promotional ads, posters and websites and fans were urged to search for clues, both online and in real life, in order to put the pieces of a puzzle together. Fake police reports detail the locations of movie-related paraphernalia and tie-ins in major cities around the world including bakeries, bowling alleys and other events taking place around the world. A fake website in support of movie politician Harvey Dent shows a “Page Not Found” error but contains the secret message “See You In December” when highlighted. Fans were also urged to dress up as The Joker and send in pictures.


Your product or service might appeal to your customers' senses but can you appeal to their imagination as well? Going beyond the 5 senses and linking what you do to our human faculties such as intellect, emotion and values is what can differentiate standard sales and marketing from campaigns that draw customers in by creating interesting new experiences. The producers of the movie created a vast number of online and offline links to the movie that engaged the imagination of fans while building suspense

A World of Experience

There is really no end to the kind of tie-ins you can create for your business both online and offline. While you may not go out and set up dozens of website of your own to promote Internet viral marketing, you can certainly explore and create tie-ins to existing online forums and communities as well as think of creative ways to promote your business in real life. Allowing people to experience your business is not limited to your product or service. In addition to standard marketing tie-ins like a roller coaster, Formula One sponsorship, games, costumes, and toys, the movie producers created extravagant scavenger hunts and other activities for fans to partake in. People could supply their e-mail addresses and phone numbers to receive fake message and those who sent in pictures of themselves as The Joker were mailed a defaced copy of The Gotham Times. The political campaign for the character Harvey Dent was another opportunity to create mock campaign events and promotional items that, once again, simply amplified the hype surrounding the movie.

(By the way, what about the fact that the iconic picture of the flaming bat on the destroyed building is not even in the movie?!)

Get help with Internet viral marketing!

What is Internet Viral Marketing?Applying Viral Marketing PrinciplesViral Marketing SuccessesViral Marketing FlopsSocial Media Marketing FundamentalsSocial Media Marketing PrinciplesSocial Media Marketing TipsTop Social Media Marketing BrandsSocial Media Marketing StrategiesViral Marketing Consultant

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