Viral marketing is a phenomenon. It works and works well. Why? Because it puts the power in the hands of the people. It doesn’t rely on advertising executives, million dollar campaigns or celebrity endorsements. It is real, down-to-earth, grassroots marketing that, when it comes down to it, might be advertising in its purest form.

Viral marketing, while driven by strategy and well-planned messaging, is only successful when its audience is captivated. A marketing campaign will only go “viral” if people like it and ultimately, share it with others. Therefore, they have the power. Not the marketer.

Online business owners and internet marketers alike understand the important role viral marketing plays in the success of their businesses today. Social media networks have become just as much about business as they are about pleasure. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other key players are now joining us in the boardroom and in sales meetings. Blogs are replacing news media in many ways, and we must adapt our marketing approach to become players in this game.

From reaching the masses with special deals, invitations for sale events and enticing customers to purchase new products, viral marketing is a lucrative business tool, approach and strategy all wrapped in to one.

Say, for example, you are an internet marketer. You create and sell valuable sales tools, including E-books, reports, videos and webinars. Not only should you have a list to which you apply your email marketing campaign, but in addition, you can share your products by posting them on Facebook, tweeting about them on Twitter or uploading lessons to YouTube. The possibilities are endless.

With a little bit of creativity and a true understanding of your target market, viral marketing has the ability to skyrocket your business to new heights. Not only should you consider the favor of your current customer base, but approach your viral marketing campaign in such a way that encourages – and makes them want to – share your business with others. You could offer free products for every ten people your customers share your link with. The more you incentivize, the more likely people are to share with others.

Think about it, if you were your own customer, what would entice you to share your products? Would it be quality customer service? Great deals and monthly specials? What grabs your attention? Start there and see what works. The other great thing about viral marketing is, if one approach isn’t working, you lose nothing by switching gears. Just be careful to settle in to a consistent message, no matter what your approach might be. You don’t want to run the risk of turning people off.

So, engage in your viral marketing campaign. Be social on social networks, share others information and they in turn, will share yours. Viral marketing is a give and take and the more you give, the more you will get. There is an unspoken set of expectations that accompany viral marketing, and the most important of all is to respect those you are marketing to. If you do, they will recognize that and most likely help you on your way to going viral.