Have you ever wondered why so few viral marketing campaigns ever go mobile? Granted, The Dark Knight did a good job using mobile communication to send out automated phone calls that supplemented the online viral, but few films have taken advantage of the opportunities that the medium provides. Well, Nancy Gohring of PCWorld offers an interesting breakdown that highlights why mobile communication has such trouble accommodating to viral marketing.

Gohring argues that viral marketing has not taken off in the medium because the mobile communication industry is not homogeneously structured. There are multiple carriers and brands that provide unique services and opportunities designed to court customers. In many ways, the goal of cell phone companies is to set themselves apart from the competition in terms of price, quality, and offerings as greatly as possible. How does one craft a message for the masses then when a multitude of software and applications are used to receive it? Mobile communication does not function like the internet, where word of mouth can easily spread across social networks or email because everyone has an email address or Facebook profile and there are few limitations to communication. It seems cell phone users though have one of a kind plans that make them incompatible with others.  This makes virals are too difficult to pass along without a tremendous amount of planning and capital by content creators for a return that is not worthwhile. 

To me, incorporating mobile communication is pivotal for the future of viral campaigns. In many ways, the medium is better suited for this marketing than the internet. Mobile viral campaigns can grow and react instantaneously because of the immediacy of the medium. Nohring’s piece though shows the current compatibility amongst mobile brands does not allow for this phenomenon to thrive. In addition, problems also emerge when considering that films often have promotional tie-ins with a single mobile service producer for non-viral promotions. How can a film studio employ a multi-carrier campaign while at the same time honor exclusive agreements with a single brand? I imagine that as the internet becomes a more primary feature on mobile phones, brand communication will be more in sync, much in the same way different computer brands are able to coexist with the same software. Hopefully that leaves us with better virals.

Be sure to leave some thoughts below if you wish to chime in!

By Alex Gerage

Alex is a graduate student at Northwestern University studying Communication. His recreational interests include sports, Star Wars, and superheroes.

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