The Pros and Cons of Viral Marketing

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With consumers showing increasing resistance to traditional forms of advertising such as TV and newspaper advertisements, marketers have sought to develop alternative strategies, among which Viral Marketing (VM) is the most intriguing. VM has become the defining marketing trend of the decade, with its brief history compared to other forms of advertising techniques. The rise of VM could only be facilitated with the proliferation of broadband access in the 1990s when the internet became accessible for commercial purposes that it became a feasible advertising technique. Consider the success of Hotmail story, one that has been reported extensively has achieved nothing short of a worldwide contagion. (Wilson 2000)

Sharing online content is an integral part of modern life. In recent years, the emergence of social media has become the most common internet-based activity. An online social networking site is defined as a group of internet-based application that allows creation and exchange of User Generated Content. (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010) It is an umbrella term characterizing different types of applications which include blogs/micro-blogs(eg Twitter), social networking sites( eg Facebook) and content communities(eg Youtube).

It usually involves a collection of user profiles where registered members can place information that they want to share with others. Users can add other users to their network of contacts. Usually one user initiates the invitation, and the other user accepts or rejects the request. When accepted, the two profiles become linked. The resulting network is referred to as a “Friend Network”.

VM exploits existing social networks by encouraging customers to share product information with their ...

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