by Kate Stockert
Viral Marketing is a common industry term familiar to many of us, but just how often do you integrate this concept into your organization or library’s marketing plan? How do social networking tools relate to viral marketing and what potential do they have to carry your library or organization’s message?
Let’s start with a definition of viral marketing. In Unleashing the IdeaVirus, marketing guru Seth Godin contends that viral marketing is spread via an amplifier, where an amplifier is built into a product and “amplifies” the voice of an individual. Read any article on viral marketing and you will find Hotmail cited as the classic example. When first introduced to the public, every email sent via Hotmail included the footer “Get your private, free email at http://hotmail.com.” Hotmail brilliantly incorporated their amplifier (footer message) into their product (email). Millions of users sent billions of emails, and after a relatively short period of time, Hotmail’s message became common knowledge.
Social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter introduce a new and potentially powerful avenue for viral marketing. Go to most any media website, such as the New York Times or YouTube, and you’ll find a “Share” link allowing you to post the media piece to the gamut of social networking sites; with one click a user amplifies a video or news story by sharing it with a large group of friends or contacts. Thinking locally, last summer I learned of Molly Moon’s when a couple of friends mentioned it in their Facebook “status.” After one delicious afternoon of salted caramel ice cream, I too jumped the Facebook status bandwagon and spread the news of Molly Moon.
Challenge yourself to consider ways viral marketing and social media can boost your library or organization’s message. Is it possible your users could “Share” your library’s products (such as pathfinders and training guides) on LinkedIn or Facebook? Would your users consider a “status update” such as Jane Doe’s “library saved the day with swift research assistance”? Perhaps key players at your organization would consider including an internal email footer boasting your library’s services to students and associates? Whether it’s social networking tools, email or an elevator speech, the best part about viral marketing it that it is a free (or low cost) solution for spreading your marketing message!