Dissertation-Viral Marketing

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Kapil Gupta

Viral marketing of digital products using social media

Dissertation presented for the Degree of Masters of Business Administration at the University of Edinburgh Business School, May 2011

Acknowledgements
I would like to thank my supervisor, Tony Kinder, for all of the help and guidance he has given me over the course of the project, from the initial idea through the research and writing stages through to the conclusion. It would have been impossible to complete this project without his assistance.

I would also like to thank all of the interviewees, whose experiences and insights were invaluable in writing this report:

Rachel Armitage Jenny Herbison Andrew Burnett Colin Gilchrist Tera Dargavel

I would also like to thank all my friends and colleagues who tolerated me while I incessantly talked about viral marketing and who sometimes even helped me brainstorm some ideas.

Warm thanks to all of you, Kapil Gupta Edinburgh, May 2011

MBA Dissertation

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Abstract
Improvements in hardware and software technologies like high speed internet, cloud computing, smaller and faster chips, have made social networking and mobile devices ubiquitous, which has in turn created a huge opportunity in digital products and services market. Marketers, in trying to use traditional word-of-mouth marketing concepts online for - aka viral marketing – for their digital products are realising that there is the potential of exponential growth that can be achieved very quickly and very cheaply when compared to using more traditional marketing channels. This report attempts to explore how marketers could use viral marketing to market their digital products and realise this potentially exponential growth. In answering this question, this report draws on the results of primary and secondary research, including four interviews conducted in March and April 2011 with professionals from organisations dealing in digital products and social media marketing. Among the topics covered in these interviews were identifying who can use viral marketing, strategic issues surrounding viral marketing, specific characteristics that a products needs to have to be considered for viral marketing, creating and executing a viral marketing campaign, and how to make a viral marketing campaign sustainable. The research showed that all aspects of an organisation need to come together and work in tandem to potentially achieve an exponential growth using a viral marketing campaign from defining an overall business and marketing strategy, looking at company’s capabilities, putting crisis management in place, developing the right product which is social spread friendly, finding the right influencers in the relevant market channels, seeding these influencers, monitoring the campaign, engaging with customers as they provide positive and negative feedback, and all this while building momentum to a point where campaign potentially goes viral. Research also shows the marketers need to be aware of the negative aspects of viral marketing, as it could be catastrophic to a brand. MBA Dissertation Page 2

Drawing on these findings, the report then presents the five areas that marketers should consider while using viral marketing to market digital products:       Overall business and marketing strategy Human and system capabilities Finding the right Influencers Designing and developing a brilliant product Creating and managing a campaign Sustainability of viral marketing campaign

MBA Dissertation

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Table of Contents
Acknowledgements ....................................................................................................................................... 1 Abstract .............................................................................................................................................................. 2 1. Introduction...
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