Viral Marketing: A Call to Arms!

Do it like Che: Guerilla marketing on the social web

Do it like Che: Guerilla marketing on the social web

“Be realistic; demand the impossible!” This quote from controversial freedom fighter Che Guevara also applies to marketing strategies—especially in the age of social media. But how does social guerilla marketing really work?

“Guerilla” is the diminutive form of the Spanish word guerra and roughly translates as “little war”. The idea is to use cunning, guile, and unpredictable tactics to overcome a superior opponent. In a marketing context, this means surprising as many people as possible with radical ideas in order to generate maximum attention.

But what’s this got to do with Facebook and other social media platforms? Take a look at some of the attributes of guerilla marketing as compiled by the inventor of the term, Jay C. Levinson, in the 1980s:

  • Most suitable for small businesses and the self-employed
  • Niches are preferable to a wide variety of products and services
  • Campaigns combine multiple marketing tools
  • The smaller the target audience, the better—the ideal scenario is one-to-one communication

What do you notice? That’s right, these are all features that social media platforms can deliver. And that’s what makes them the ideal environment for viral guerilla marketing.

Taking the fight to the social web

Contrary to persistent rumors, guerilla marketing takes more than just courage. A clear strategy and perfectly coordinated activities are needed, especially seeing as these campaigns occasionally take companies into legal grey areas. In most cases, a small budget is not enough.

The list of possible methods is long: from word-of-mouth marketing to bluejacking and from product placement to reverse graffiti. Here are the top guerilla tactics for a viral campaign that even Ho Chi Minh would be proud of. But caution: use them at your own risk …  

  • Ambient marketing. Invade the natural habitat of your target audience. Can be effective anywhere where people gather in groups, from bus stops to bowling alleys.
  • Ambush marketing. Nearly every day, a new viral trend sweeps through the internet. Whether it’s a Trump scandal, TV series hype, or a lady wearing a Chewbacca mask, you can jump on the digital bandwagon before others do.
  • Buzz marketing. Thanks to the likes of Facebook, product recommendations have a greater influence on buyers’ decisions than ever before. The most effective boosters are free samples. Ask users to leave a review on social networks and wait for the buzz to start.
  • Mosquito marketing. By standing on the shoulders of giants, you can not only see furtheryou can also be seen better. Use the awareness or visibility of a rival product, pinpoint its weaknesses, and then sting.
  • Hoax marketing. Hoaxes are a quick, powerful way to generate attention. For example, this elaborate fake bombing stoked huge publicity for a German film. Just share the news over Twitter, wait for the sensation to reach its peak, and then come clean. But be careful, this tactic can easily backfire.

Have you gained a few ideas for your campaign? Then off you go! Social guerilla, alerta, alerta!

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