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Viral Marketing Definition

viral marketing – n : a term used to describe marketing campaigns in which customers proactively attract other customers to a product or service in a geometrically expanding network of customers (e.g., I recruit five people, then each of those in turn recruit five people themselves, etc.).

Example: Online digital photography services tend to benefit from viral marketing. For example, Jolie attends a class reunion, then posts her photos on an online service and e-mails the website link to a few dozen classmates. Each of the classmates can go online to view the photos for free, but they are first required to register with the photo service. If any of them want to order prints, they pay for that service. And, once these several dozen people are acquainted with the service, some will probably choose to post pictures themselves. For example, classmate Bob may subsequently choose to post photos of his newborn child and e-mail 25 people in his extended family to encourage them to view the pictures online. In this way, the online photo service benefits from viral marketing – in a sense, “free advertising” – as their customers promote the service through word-of-mouth to an ever-expanding network.

Adapted from "The CompanyCrafters Entrepreneur's Dictionary"
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