Is Viral Marketing a Myth?

Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research

I found this research by by Sharad Goel, Duncan J. Watts and Daniel G. Goldstein very instructive.  Please note particularly:

“Goel says they wanted to see whether these spread virally, “like the common cold, some sort of biological contagion. One person gets infected and their friend gets infected and a friend of their friend gets infected.” It’s called multistep diffusion in technical terms. And Goel’s data shows it’s a fantasy.

“What we see is something qualitatively different. Most of the time it adopts and dies out within one generation,” Goel says.

Try 99 percent of the time, in fact. The best any of these seven online scenarios did was to get passed along more than once in six percent of cases. That happened both for Yahoo Voice and Friend Sense. Goel isn’t using models, by the way; this is real world data.

For marketers, Goel’s research means it’s time to abandon the idea that viral marketing via social media will lead to tenfold organic growth.

But Goel has some good news for marketers: while things don’t go viral like the flu, they can get a 20 percent return – for every 10 adoptees of a conventional marketing effort, another two people will adopt something organically.”

About Arie Goldshlager

Customer Insight, Customer Strategy, and Innovation Consultant
This entry was posted in Influence, Viral Marketing. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Is Viral Marketing a Myth?

  1. valuable post and very well written. i like it. thanks for sharing .

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