Word of mouth (now called viral marketing because “mouth” is only a small piece of the communication method today) marketing is highly effective. Making it happen is everyone’s holy grail. We have participated in countless conversations with customers that start, “How can we get this to go viral?”
Several so-called experts claim to know how, but if they really did, they would make a lot more money than they do by using it themselves or taking a piece of the action. It’s like the touts who tell you which horse is the sure thing in today’s race.
Ad Age recently published the top ten viral ads of all time. Positions 2-9 are held by major brands with big bucks advertising budgets. However the #1 position is held by a company that made itself with one of the best viral ads of all time: Blendtec and its Will it Blend Campaign. I own a Blendtec blender because of that campaign. So do LOTS of people.
Going viral takes some amount of luck and some amount of creativity. The mix is unknown and probably unknowable. However, that won’t stop the experts from claiming to know the secret. Just remember that in the California Gold Rush of the late 1840s, it was the suppliers to the gold miners who made the most money, not the gold miners.