The essence of a viral message is that it spreads ever outwards, multiplying as it goes and with a life of it's own. The secret then is to give people a message that they want to spread or cannot avoid spreading. For us online marketers, the simple message we want to spread is the URL of our website, sales page, landing page, or whatever.
There are of course general viral aims such as raising our profile, but the two main aims are to get back-links that will improve our search engine rankings, and to drive traffic to our site. All methods are not equally effective for these two main aims. Here are five well-known message mediums, with some tips on making them viral.
We need to be clear what we are trying to achieve with each.
Mostly for links
Article writing. Use that resource box to the full and include three deep links to your site. You immediately get links from the directory or other site where to post the article, and you're looking for others to post the article and resource box in many more places so that it spreads virally.
White papers. These work in a similar way to articles, except that they are usually first posted, or given away from, you own site. There are no links initially, but you hope that people will post the paper on their own sites and encourage others to take it up.
Mostly for traffic
These methods make it unlikely that the medium will be used In a way that will provide back-links, but if people read it on-screen they may click the link
Tip: Keep links simple and memorable for people who see them in printed form.
eBooks. Make your eBook free. Put your link in the footnote at the bottom of every page, and where appropriate in the text. Encourage people to give away copies.
Email. Have a text link in you signature box and also possibly your logo with a picture link. Make sure the main text of your email encourages people to forward it to others.
Software. Aim for neat bits of software that contain your link in a way that it will be displayed often in a way that encourages that click - widgets, clocks, simple games, almost anything. But keep your objective in mind. It's no good having your software passed on to thousands if they never see the message.