Viral marketing can be an powerful if unconventional tool for affiliate marketers looking for new and creative ways to build website traffic.

What is viral marketing?
Viral marketing is a strategy of promoting your website by using ads in creative and indirect ways, using videos, images, text messages, Flash games, social media posts, and other forms of online media. (Think of the original Blair Witch Project.)

It’s true that viral marketing has something of a bad reputation — heck, the name itself comes from “virus”. But in essence, it’s a perfectly acceptable idea: creating miniature marketing messages that will infect a user’s online space via sources like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube.

If that sounds negative, consider that the best viral marketing campaigns work because they’re creative and funny — meaning people voluntarily embrace these viral ads. They seek them out because they want to see more.

This best viral marketing takes the form of social media posts, Youtube videos, smartphone or text ads, even print ads placed strategically in land-based casinos and poker rooms. These kinds of viral ads can help you not only boost your brand and promote your URL, but help boost your SEO via a barrage of link bait.

How to use viral marketing as a gaming affiliate
CAP’s friend and poker affiliate pro Jeremy Enke describes his own unexpectedly successful viral marketing experience. Back in ’08, Jeremy launched a viral marketing campaign called “If Celebrities Were From The Midwest, Here Is What They Would Look Like”.

“I have ironically received more unique traffic this month on the site than any other time in history,” Enke explains. “It all started when this post about celebrities brought me 10k+ unique visitors from stumbleupon alone.

“Then just this week it also got posted on the homepage of reddit.com.  From there it ended up getting posted to sites like jimmyr and Totalfark, as well as a list of forums and blogs. … The post was also mentioned on a popular USA Today Blog.”

“The point I wanted to make though is that VIRAL MARKETING WORKS,” Enke concludes. “Creating good link bait and getting it circulated around the internet is really not that difficult if you can be creative.”

So, okay, maybe it takes a special sort of creativity to pull off viral marketing. But anyone can try it out. To do so, your viral ads should be:

1. Catchy, interesting or funny. This is the hardest part: Coming up with a good idea, something that people will find funny or interesting enough to want to know more. To get started, read Jeremy’s post above and see if you can catch some inspiration there.

2. Memorable. A viral ad must be memorable in addition to interesting and/or funny. They go hand-in-hand: Someone should think your idea is not only cool but memorable enough to want to find more (and mention it to others, ideally).

3. Flexible. Your catchy and funny idea should be flexible enough to work as a video, an ad, a tweet, a Facebook post … you get the idea.

4. Visible. This is the easy part: Once you’ve got your viral marketing idea, make sure it gets in front of the web’s biggest social sites — Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and the like.

5. Identifiable. You can have the catchiest, most hilarious viral marketing ad in history, but it won’t do you any good if people don’t connect it to your website.  On viral ads, use your URL like you use your telephone number on a business card, advises Matt DeAngelis.

Questions? Comments?
Do you have experience with viral marketing for a gaming affiliate site? Or are you the type of Internet user who hates the very idea of viral marketing? Either way, sound off in the comments and let us know what you think. (And bonus points if your comment is in itself an example of a viral marketing campaign!)


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