Social media is the new god of news and information, it’s predominance highlighted by recent events and their rapid spread throughout the internet – even outpacing more traditional media sources.

There is already large awareness amongst marketers of a style of marketing that is low-cost but high returns. The method is viral marketing and it has taken the internet by storm.

Viral marketing is the creation of buzz over a product that can either be directly related to it or just vaguely. This type of marketing relies upon an ever dependable side of human nature, gossip and hearsay. The primary idea of this type of marketing is to get a product within certain channels of social media that is the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth. Simply put, it is getting people to talk about and share knowledge of your product.

Viral marketing’s many forms can range from something as small getting people to post about a product within different online communities under the guise of legitimate interest (mostly positive but sometimes negative), to intricately made and then subtly disseminated ‘found footage’ videos that’ll turn a few heads. All-in-all though the desired effect is the same for all these: getting people to talk about your product or client.

A cool operator within the viral marketing scene would be movies and their prevalent use of cryptic trailers and strange pre-release internet scavenger-hunt style games where people are required to decipher vague clues and go to unintuitive websites to get some unknown prize. The beauty of these types of viral marketing is that it’s cheap and anyone will be able to play if they do so desire due to it being online.

Video games have also been at the cutting edge of this type of online advertising. Video game publishers usually try to build controversy and/or anticipation by releasing certain content to a select group of people who’ve preordered and emphasizing how satisfied the buyers were about preordering.

This can also work for small time advertisers if one is to focus more on the elitism aspect of it. Scavenger style games make people who decrypt the messages and clue feel special and knowledgeable and rewarding them for it with prizes and/or public laudation. On the other hand, selective content can also work in the small scale as it tends to form a small group of “supporters” who are credited with aiding the site/product/service when it was just starting up – in the same vein as when the names of donors are written in plaques in public works.

A word of caution though, this is a very unreliable method of advertising as it is very hard to make people share and generate content due to the fact some content can be oversaturated with one group, thus lessening the chances of said group from spreading it with others. This downside is usually overcome by repeated injection of new content as time passes to maintain visibility and relevancy.