Social Network Marketing #3: How viral marketing is like viral infections!

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Blog entry by pashley posted 03-07-2010 04:44 AM 1562 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Preliminary thoughts about Twitter. Part 3 of Social Network Marketing series no next part

Now I know why they call it “viral marketing”; – because it’s just like a virus, epidemiologically.

Let’s compare the Chicken Pox to …how about LumberJocks?

Obviously LumberJocks has done very well for itself, with over 17,000 members in about 4 years. Doing the math, that averages out to be about 11 new members a day! But WHY has it grown?

Because LumberJocks is like Chicken Pox, from an epidemiological (how it spreads) point of view.

Let’s peek behind the curtain….

Chicken Pox is a transmittable disease; you can catch it through an airborne virus – if someone with chicken pox near you sneezes and you happen to breathe it in, you could very well get it too (assuming you haven’t already had it). You are susceptible to it -able to be harmed by it.

Likewise, if you are someone interested in woodworking, you are susceptible to the LJ website. If you’re a woman in her 80s, probably not so much.

Next, comes exposure. If your whole family has chicken pox (or even the common cold), you know how likely you are to get it! Likewise, if a few of your buddies from the local woodworking group you belong to mention the LJ site, you are exposed to it as well.

Now the infection. Because you’re whole family has chicken pox, now you’ve contracted it as well. In like fashion, since your buddies were talking about LJs, you also joined.

You are now infectious – you could spread the chicken pox to your neighbors. You could also tell your friends in another woodworking group about LJs, and the cycle starts all over again.

This is the essence of something on the internet “going viral”. Think about those popular videos someone emailed you – and probably several other friends as well. If you’re like me, you passed it along to several other friends too – again, an example of viral marketing.

There is actually a coefficient that must be met for something to go viral. That is, a certain number of people that must be told for the “virus” to continue. If it doesn’t meet that number, the site stops or slows growing. The higher the number, the higher the acceleration rate of growth, to a point of full saturation – in which everyone pretty much is aware of it – like YouTube or Google. When you reach that point, you don’t need anymore people coming in, because in all likelihood, you’re not going to be knocked off the top of the mountain anyway. Who could beat YouTube at hosting videos – in terms of numbers?

Kinda interesting, huh? :)

-- Have a blessed day!

5 comments so far

View Wood_smith's profile


260 posts in 2990 days

#1 posted 03-07-2010 05:40 AM

Now, if only I could get that many people to my website!
I might sell enough pouches to pay the oil bill!

-- Lloyd Kerry; creator of the Kerry-All Pouch,

View PaintingDenver's profile


3 posts in 2968 days

#2 posted 03-07-2010 08:05 AM

This is an interesting article, knowing Social Media outlets provide the vehicle for content to go viral across the internet in record time. One suggestion for a smaller company like mine is make as many friends as you possibly can on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other various social bookmarking sites. Then having new blog article can get indexed very quickly. When asking for someone to promote your link on twitter, always good to put hashtags on selected keywords for better indexing. DenverPainting #painting #contractor speaks on paint brush care. [link]

-- Cal @

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4126 days

#3 posted 03-07-2010 01:43 PM

great blog.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View pashley's profile


1043 posts in 3683 days

#4 posted 03-07-2010 02:19 PM

PaintingDenver: have you ever received any business that you can trace back to Twitter?

-- Have a blessed day!

View Eli's profile


141 posts in 2971 days

#5 posted 03-28-2010 07:59 AM

Lumberjocks isn’t really viral. Viral marketing is marketing through existing social networks. Lumberjocks just sits here and people find it one way or another. As far as I know, it doesn’t market itself at all. Viral marketing creates a buzz that’s often less about the product and more about the marketing itself, building a brand by proxy. Ideally, at least as far as I know, the marketing should not be recognizable as an advertisement: people don’t want to advertise for you. The idea is that once you put it in motion, everyone else does the marketing for you. But it’s very tricky.

Beyond simple youtube-ish videos, these campaigns can be very elaborate. Shadow of the Colossus, a video game, ran quite a campaign, although I don’t think it drew as much attention as some others. The game revolves around a number of “Colossi” roaming the world. The marketing involved fake news clips of archaeologists discovering tremendous skeletons. The clips were made to look like they came from a variety of news outlets around the world. There were also websites set up by enthusiasts, tracking the locations of each new find. Another famous one was Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They set up lite-brites of the cartoon characters in major cities across the US. People start wondering what they are and saying “hey, have you seen that thing? What is it?” Unfortunately, or fortunately, someone in Massachusetts thought it was a bomb. This actually led to a LOT of publicity. All publicity is good, right? Halo, the game, did one with fake videos of spaceships being sighted all over the world. The spacecraft were ships from the game. The Dark Knight had a great one but I don’t remember the details. There was a website set up to reveal a pixel of an image for each visitor. People told people to visit to find out what it was. It was the first image of Heath Ledger as the Joker. There was a lot more to that campaign as well.

Anyway, viral marketing is so named because it is spread peer-to-peer, unintentionally, and is only recognized after the fact. As with most things, Wikipedia explains it quite well:


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