How about viral marketing and the law?

Unfortunately the laws regarding viral marketing differ strongly per country. In many European countries, it is not allowed to reward consumers in order to spread the viral to others. Early viral campaigns often were of the nature: “For each friend you invite to join you will get an additional chance to win a … (our products / car / holiday trip)”. This is no longer allowed, forcing marketers to make the viral actually viral based on its content, relevancy and value, and not on simple trinkets for the masses.

A few general tips:

  • Negative viral campaigns (making jokes about others like competitors) usually end up in law suits.
  • Respect the privacy of the viral receiver.
  • Sending viral messages via email requires opt-in approval, just like email marketing.
  • Be careful by allowing users to create material of their own. Consumers are less aware of copyright laws.
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