The worldwide pandemic, whose end is not yet known, has initially attracted the people’s attention globally before the virus became a threat to people outside of its country of origin.
One thing travelled fast and in a more drastic manner than the virus itself – information. Information spread rapidly across social media and news outlets – only part of them being true though. While most of it was clickbait and modified to attract visitors, one thing is certain – the virus that originated as something „foreign“, took the world by storm in a matter of the days, immensely changing the lifestyle people were used to.
Recently, I heard a joke which was stuck in my mind for a while after. It goes like this:
A cough virus and coronavirus meet.
– Corona: What’s up?
– Cough: Everything stopped, nothing is happening, I could be doing a lot better than right now.
– Corona: Bro, your marketing sucks.
For a joke to be funny, it needs to have a small dose of truth in it.
Several things we can learn about marketing from the coronavirus?
Viral Marketing Is Unsurpassed
Viral marketing is a strategy used by companies to initiate a chain reaction (or interaction, in this case) between users to disseminate their messages, news and information related to them and their products.
In the case of coronavirus, it is obvious that the nature of the case itself lead to the immeasureable prevalence among people, caused by the worry for personal safety and the safety of the ones close to us, but this case also serves as proof that viral marketing brings otherwise unattainable results.
The term „viral marketing“ was creating because of the method and speed of the spread of content. Flowing under the weight of the amount of users interacting with the content, it is doubled with every click and share, while the surroundings and the target population play a key role in the dissemination.
Leaving behind the case of the coronavirus for a second, we are able to find a vast amount of content that went viral – either regionally or globally (the most common viral content being songs or specific YouTube content made for fun) which where adapted into various forms (a large number of YouTubers tried to reacreate their success across different social media, movies or through collaborations with others, many of which fail, further showing the rarity and the significance of viral marketing).
It’s important to note that the content that goes viral is very often short-lived (in a matter of days, which is more than enough time to share it with your friends), but also because it exceeds the limits it was confined to by the content creator (targeted public, form of transfer and use of the content,…)
Affiliate Marketing Is King!
Affiliate marketing is marketing based on the performance of the promotion itself- that is, every affiliate receives a commission for each new user of the services promoted by the company.
Of course, I’m not saying that people were paid to spread the information about the coronavirus, far from it. What I’m trying to say is that this is one of the greatest success stories for affiliate marketing across the world, and it serves as a precedent for what this strategy can accomplish in the coming years.
As a strategy developed in the recent years and still considered to be “experimental”, its potential is not yet fulfilled, enabling the creation of a new market for companies and agencies of all forms.
The coronavirus crisis has showed us the effect the spread of information by public figures actually has, thus opening the door for all those who are willing to use this strategy for their own purposes.
“Trending” – The Power of Influencers and The Celebrities
No virus has been as viewy for influencers and celebrities as COVID-19 (Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Mikel Arteta, Idris Elba, etc.). Many have publicly declared that they tested positive for the virus and, with the power of numbers – social media followers – the information spread like wildfire. The next trigger to go off were the media, who took the same information and ran with it, while consumers took it in and shared it across other social media.
Imagine if the virus originated in a Third World country, unknown to many, “missing” the high profile targets. We can freely say that we wouldn’t be nearly as worried as we are now, and “How to prevent Corona” would not be among the top trending Google searches.
A suggestion for brands to implement “Influencer marketing”?
Buzz Marketing is a chain reaction where the product will “buzz” until it has become old and useless. Something we like to call a lifecycle in marketing, is known as the basic word of mouth to others.
The core of this approach is to recognize and exploit the usual motives and habits of consumers. Smart and well-planned viral marketing plans use the advantage of usual human motivations. The desire to be accepted or be considered “cool”, as well as the innate motives – fear, hunger, anger, passion, etc. Social media, along with usual gathering places for people (cafés, playground, parks, etc.) are most often used for these purposes. Buzz is the most efficient type of marketing, which also uses the best local media outlets – people.
Try to have a conversation with someone during this period and not mention the virus? Near impossible.
Will COVID-19 last for as long as most other viral products do – short-lived and quickly forgotten as other things take the spotlight? I’m sure we’re all hoping it to be so, for both safety and economic reasons. Until the situation is resolved, we can use this time to learn about positioning, promotion, forming public opinions and creating actions. We surely can, and we surely have to.