Which companies built strong brand with little spending in advertising and marketing? Google is one. Whether intended or not, Google’s popularity came from the “viral” effect. Viral marketing has generated lots of attentions in recent years and been found the ultimate free lunch.
Duncan J. Watts, professor of sociology at Columbia University, has a different view. He recently published a paper, “Viral Marketing for the Real World”, in which he states that,
One may need to design and conduct dozens or even hundreds of such campaigns before one of them succeeds, and even if a campaign is successful at spreading it still might not propagating the desired message of the advertiser.
Duncan proposed a “Big Seed” marketing approach that combines viral marketing tools with mass media. He also illustrated some successful campaigns being implemented with this approach. In addition, Duncan introduced a tool called ForwardTrack:
ForwardTrack is a new system created by Eyebeam R&D (redeveloped with the assist from Stamen Design) designed to promote on-line activism. The system tracks and maps the diffusion of email forwards, political calls-to-action, and online petitions. It can trace email forwards, map the impact of blogs, and facilitate web-based sign-ups and social networking. Our goal is to help people understand decentralized networks and see the power of “6 degrees of separation.” ForwardTrack technology helps prove that one person can make a difference.
and how it works:
ForwardTrack allows tracking over a variety of internet media. Participants can email friends through the ForwardTrack web application, post links to a personalized ForwardTrack page from their blogs and website, or send those same links over chat systems or email lists. We hope that by obliging the multiplexity of the internet and its various communication systems, ForwardTrack will enable anyone with a good cause to reach a large audience.
So, if you are going to implement a viral marketing campaign, you need to read “Viral Marketing for the Real World” and know about the open source software ForwardTrack.