W H I T E PA P E R : V I R A L M A R K E T I N G©2006 MindComet Corporation
THE ConCEPT bEHInd vIRAl mARkETIng
The concept o viral marketing is by no means new. Word-o-mouthmarketing, viral’s oreather, has been around or ages. The principle behindword-o-mouth marketing is simple; use infuencers to generate peer-to-peer product recommendations or buzz. Prior to the advent o the Internet,however, this orm o marketing was too disjointed to eectively benet mostadvertisers. The eect o word-o-mouth was largely contained to specicgeographic areas simply due to the lack o widespread social networks. Word-o-mouth was generally limited by the ability o the infuencer to physicallyspeak to another prospective customer, hence the term “word-o-mouth”.
enter the internet
The Internet has radically changed the concept o word-o-mouth, so muchso that the term “viral marketing” was coined by venture capitalist SteveJurvetson in 1997. The term was used to describe Hotmail’s email practice o appending advertising or themselves to outgoing mail rom their users. Theassumption is that i such an advertisement reaches a “susceptible” user, thatuser will become “inected” (i.e., sign up or an account) and can then go on toinect other susceptible users.While email may have been the original catalyst; the advent o social networks, online communities and chat provide the ability todistribute inormation exponentially aster than ever beore. Whereword-o-mouth marketing could take weeks or months to reach athousand people, viral marketing can reach hundreds o thousandsor millions in a matter o days or hours. The spread o an eectiveviral marketing campaign is akin to an epidemic outbreak o avirus, limited only by the potency and relevance o the marketingmessage.
vIRAl mARkETIng dEfInEd
The Wikipedia denes viral marketing as “marketingtechniques that seek to exploit pre-existing socialnetworks to produce exponential increases inbrand awareness, through viral processes similarto the spread o an epidemic. It is word-o-mouthdelivered and enhanced online; it harnesses thenetwork eect o the Internetand can be very useul inreaching a large number o people rapidly.”