There is an explosion happening in the digital world, and Social Media is responsible for it. Not a day goes by without hearing something new about how hundreds of millions of people are engaging in social media. Venture Capitalists and other investors are flogging to invest in new and innovative social media companies and device manufacturers are continuously coming up with new and sophisticated devices to provide a platform for people to engage in social media while on the move.
The recent technological advancements - in mobile devices, multi-touch screens, cloud computing, and the advancements in the way we interact with the devices – has allowed the companies to deliver content and services in very easy, fast and interactive ways.
With more and more people using social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, YouTube etc., the way these products are being marketed is changing as well. For example, using viral marketing, KIK - a cross platform mobile phone application was downloaded 1 million times in just 15 days after its launch (KIK 2010). In another example, Viber was able to achieve 1 million downloads in just 5 days (Appchronicles 2010). It has since amassed 10 million (Techcrunch 2011) downloads.
This paper will look at how companies developing digital products could use social media to develop and execute a viral marketing campaign.
1.1 Digital products
In 2002, Hui et al (Hui & Chau 2002) classified Digital products into three categories:
• Tools and Utilities that assist user to accomplish specific goals or tasks
• Content based products whose value lies in the information content
• Online services that provide access to useful resources like server connections as well as online utilities that assist users in accomplishing specific tasks
Since then, with the rise and adaptation of Web 2.0 technologies, digital products and services have seen an explosion - both in terms of the numbers of products and services, and the number of consumers using them i.e. mobile platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn etc.), mobile applications (>300,000 apps on Apple AppStore with 10 billion downloads), Cloud computing etc. This market is set to grow exponentially over the coming 5-10 years (Venturebeat 2010). Below are some data that support this trend:
• More and more mobile devices are being developed. For example -Motorola Xoom tablet, HP TouchPad etc.
• The vast majority of developing world yet to adopt smart phones (India hasn’t even start deploying 3G infrastructure yet)
• New business and revenue models are continuously emerging (Mobile Ad market was worth $877 million in the US alone and is predicted to rise to $3bn by 2013 (Kim 2010) )
• The smart phone penetration is growing rapidly (Alarcon 2009) (Blandford 2010) This change is happening at a fast pace (Perez 2010) and there is little written about the particular challenges in marketing the digital products, hence the reason to look at Digital products specifically in this paper.
1.2 Social media and viral marketing
Internet has now become a virtual social world where we meet our friends and family, make new friends, engage in conversation about work-life experience – including buying products and services and the resulting experiences – engage in marketplace and listen to people we trust when making buying decisions.
When it comes to making decisions, people have always been influenced by their peers, group leaders and other influential people in society whose opinion they value. Marketers have long used Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing to influence the buying decisions in the physical world. With the advent of Social Media, this conversation has gone online, and has become global as there are no geographical barriers when it comes to the internet. There are now hundreds of millions (Bloch 2010) of people using Social Media making