In recent years there has been more and more written about Viral Marketing and why you should be using it to drive traffic to your site.  So, what is viral marketing, and why should you care?  Is this just another fad that will soon fade away?

In short, viral marketing involves getting other people to willingly spread your message for you.  People who like what you have done tell other people, and the message spreads from person to person like a virus.  When that happens, it is referred to as your message “going viral.”

It relies heavily on word of mouth advertising; someone sees or reads what you have to offer and tells a couple of their friends.  Their friends see or read your message and they tell a couple of their friends, and they tell a couple of their friends, and so on.  The number of people who are aware of you and your message increases exponentially.  The more people hear about your site, the faster your traffic grows.  How large will it grow?  There is really no way to tell.  The only real limit to the amount of traffic possible is how many people your site host can handle.

Just think about how quickly it could spread.  If one person saw your message and told 2 people, who told 2 people, who told 2 people, and it continued, your message would very quickly be in front of thousands of people.  If each person just told two other people, look how quickly it can grow.

1 x 2 = 2
2 x 2 = 4
4 x 2 = 8
8 x 2 = 16
16 x 2 = 32
32 x 2 = 64
64 x 2 = 128
128 x 2 = 256
256 x 2 = 512
512 x 2 = 1024

Now just imagine if you started with 100 people spreading your message, or 1,000 people.  You can see that it doesn’t take long before hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people are aware of who you are, and better still, are visiting your web site and buying your products or services.

Viral marketing effectively taps into pre-existing social networks that your customers are already using.  By creating something that is worth talking about and passing along, you create a “buzz” that spreads across the internet, and traffic floods to your site to see what the buzz is about.  Once they are there, if they like what they see, they pass the information along, and the buzz continues to grow.

Word of mouth marketing is by far the most effective way to get word out about your site.  People will listen to others that they already know and trust much more readily than they will listen to you.  These people do not know you, so why should they trust what you are telling them?  After all, you might be likely to say anything in order to make a sale.  However, they will listen to a friend or family member, especially if the person spreading the word does not have anything to gain by telling them.  It is just a friend passing along a great deal they found, or some useful or interesting information.