Some things spread like wildfire. Other things spread like a virus. Viral marketing is considered to spread like the latter. The concept involves the introduction of the ad or content to some key individuals in the population. Those individuals then mention it to other individuals. When at least two of those individuals mention it to two other individuals the spread is said to be similar to a virus, or viral.
Business is typically about people. The process that is involved in drawing people in is referred to as marketing. While a number of businesses grow of their own accord, a marketing approach can help to ensure growth. In this way marketing becomes a way to cover your risk. It helps to convert a gamble into a sure thing. Traversing the distance from risk to security is an important move in nearly every instance.
The internet is the prime focus of viral marketing. It is through the connectivity of the internet that content is introduced to someone and that individual can then easily pass on the same content. Brands and links may spread by word of mouth to other people, but the introduction often occurs online. Other media is beginning to make use of viral marketing, but it is not surprising that a web presence is often important in those approaches as well.
Social networking sites that have easy capability to send a single post to multiple people are powerful tools in these marketing campaigns. The individuals that receive the post can then easily pass the content on to other people. Similarly the individuals that visit the page can also see the post and may follow the link as well.
Viral marketing typically grows quite quickly. It can blossom at the rate of electronic messaging in fact. The content often has a considerable impact on the spread though. If the link is not interesting people may be less inclined to follow it, even if the people it comes from are individuals that are considered influential. In this way a synthesis of content and approach have occurred to form the concept of viral marketing.