There was once a time when 'viral campaigns' (or 'Internet memes') were the quickest and most effective way of spreading a message across mass markets.
The use of social networks
The phenomenon of viral networking was spawn by the development of both social networking sites (such as Facebook and LinkedIn) and also laptop mail systems such as Microsoft Outlook that allow individuals to store, categorise and group email contacts. Soon individuals were able to send on a campaign or picture to multiple contacts. This was repeated from one contact to another, hence the term 'viral campaign'.
Soon commercial organisations understood the potential of social campaigns and developed a new marketing approach. This was termed 'Social Marketing' and involved the insertion of a campaign into a social network, which relied on the network itself to spread the message. These campaigns were not traditional adverts as they looked to appeal to the characteristics of the social side of the network.
A couple of campaigns
Magical Trevor started a cult following which eventually lead to Yell's (118 247 information services) national television campaign. More recent campaigns include the 'Here It Goes Again' video from the band 'OK GO' which has received over 50 million views on youtube alone (and this figure is still rapidly increasing). The video certainly catapulted the band into Internet stardom. Another campaign is the ‘Where the hell is Matt’ video which follows Matt Harding dancing across each of the world's continents. This particular video has been viewed over 28 million times and is an unbelievable record of Matt's travels. Of course, with the video being received so well, a number of large brands have recognised the advertising potential Matt has, and it is this power which successful viral/social campaigns capitalise upon.
Best examples of viral campaigns
The very best campaigns appear to have a deep appeal to the target audience or the social network profile. They often contain either a social message, or more often, humour. Why don’t you let us know what your favourites are, and get behind our campaign to show people the original Magical Trevor! ReTweet it now!