The Basics of Viral Marketing and Pandemic Labs

In November, I wrote a few posts discussing word of mouth marketing. In my first post on this topic, Thinking Outside the Screen-WoM Advertising, I briefly introduced the idea of word of mouth marketing, and viral marketing. I, personally, differentiate between the two, where as many other organizations use the terms interchangeably. As originally indicated in my first post, I define the terms in the following manner:

    • Word of mouth marketing is a reference to the passing of general information and recommendations by verbal means, in an informal, person-to-person manner. Word of mouth mediums include face-to-face spoken communication, phone calls, text messages, blog posts, message board threads, instant messages and emails.
    • Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing consumer relationships to produce increases in brand awareness. It facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message, such as through a “forward to a friend” feature.

    Regardless, both word of mouth marketing and viral marketing work the same way. How do they work? Matt Peters over at PandemicBlog wrote a great post, How Does Viral Marketing Work?, with simple yet effective visuals illustrating the concept in a clear, concise way.

    He also provides access to part 1 of 4 white papers on viral marketing, which expands upon the concept even further. The first whitepaper of the same name, How Does Viral Marketing Work? is available here. For more details, visit his post here.

    I would also like to point out Pandemic Labs Research page, where there are a variety of terrific resources on viral marketing and related topics. I’m a sucker for glossaries, so I loved that there was a viral marketing glossary readily accessible.

    Also check out the following resources to learn more about implementing word of mouth and viral marketing:

    Dave BalterDave Balter and John Butman’s: Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. This book was co-written by Dave Balter, the founder of both BzzAgent and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), and John Butman, writer and speaker of “consumers, consumption, and related social trends”. This publication is sure to reveal some insider insight on how companies can take advantage of word of mouth marketing creatively and effectively to maximize their profits.

    Word of mouth marketing is one of the most effective, and yet under-utilized types of nontraditional marketing today. Because it’s “hard to measure,” marketers simply do not capitalize on it.

    Take your organization to the next level by learning how you CAN implement it and get results!

    word of mouth marketing book
    of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking is a brand new book that was released on November 1st of2007. If you’re looking for some place to start with Word of Mouth Marketing, begin here!

    It was written by Andy Sernovitz, Chief Executive of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, and includes a foreword by Seth Godin, a best selling author of marketing books and a genuinely brilliant individual.

    I encourage anybody interested in Word of Mouth to check it out!

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    3 thoughts on “The Basics of Viral Marketing and Pandemic Labs

    1. Thanks for the insights, Erica.

      I agree that there is a huge difference between “word-of-mouth” and viral marketing. Both are similar in that there success is typically spontaneous, dependent upon user distribution, and the message is not controlled by the marketer. However, a campaign is not actually “viral” until it spreads through the population…any youtube video or radio spot is potentially viral…

      Word-of-mouth has been around forever and it is incredibly effective. Perhaps the real marketing power is combining word-of-mouth tactics with a viral strategy.

    2. Great Stuff!

      Defining things like “viral marketing” and “word-of-mouth” is always going to be tricky due to the evolving nature of both terms. What qualified as something one day might not the next, just as what was once “new marketing” is now just “marketing”.

      You almost need a Venn diagram to explain the difference between the two. I think something WOM can be (but isn’t necessarily) viral, but it can’t be viral without WOM.

      Always nice to see another young gun Penn Stater in the space. Keep up the good work.


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