THE WEAKNESSES OF VIRAL MARKETING
Synopsis of an article written by Douglas Holt (Professor of Marketing at Oxford) in the Harvard Business Review:
"Viral marketers attempt to use word-of-mouth, the Internet, and other below-the-radar methods to convince trendsetters to create a buzz about their products. Though a powerful tool, a viral marketing program can quickly be eclipsed when the next hot topic comes along.
With a different argument, John Hegarty (Founder of BBH) believes that one of the weaknesses of viral branding is in its lack of context: Is the product real? Who's accountable for its message? Should it be taken seriously?
Hegarty says: "What is in danger of being lost in the viral world is the value of context. Where an idea comes from, who said it, why they believe in it, are all vital components of what makes an idea powerful."
In a replying letter to Hegarty's article, a reader states that:
"The point is that digital technology has given consumers control over their own media. It allows people to avoid what they don't like, pass on what they do and generate and publish their own content to a mass audience. And whether it's called citizen's media or consumer-generated media, it's greatest strength is that people trust it.