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The Power of Connection : Viral Marketing


From our last assignment, we have learnt how to successfully authorize ourselves when entering into the existing PageRank system: to create as much as connections with those who dominate the system, and share their gains. And the similar strategy can also be applied to the actual product market. Although not necessarily the same algorithm with that of PageRank, a method of constructing and utilizing social networks to advertise products is actually being used by several companies. Such approach, otherwise called “viral marketing”, is now rising as a novel way of increasing the brand awareness.

In fact, the term “viral marketing” is quite offensive. It originated form the trait of virus, a type of creature that many people perceive as harmful. However, the reason marketers call it viral is not because it’s detrimental, but because it’s exponential speed in expansion. As we all know, virus does not need to find a partner to reproduce; they can divide themselves into multiple individuals, each of which functions completely well. Similarly, the viral marketing needs not any additional elements to spread, but the initial input of information is delivered on and on via existing social networks of the included people. Viruses and viral marketing are common in their rapid growth, and the effectiveness of their strategy.

Then how can we perform viral marketing? The most common example around us is a “free trial” system. In the viewpoint of classical economy, providing products with no cost is nothing but a silly decision. However, in the real world, the free distribution of the products can actually result in a larger return. Obviously, nobody hates free stuff; those who usually won’t even consider the purchase might accept the product if it is free. If these people use the product and find it attractive, they will share the experience with other people with whom they have connection. And the process repeats on and on, spreading the name of the product and its usefulness throughout the entire society. And all we have to do for this is just an initial “push”.

However, viral marketing also has a drawback, of course. The most well-known criticism on viral marketing is its irritating aspect when misused. Back to our class material, in most cases it is more powerful to connect with people as much as possible than to contact with limited pool. As a result, some companies put “deceptive” phrases in their article which are apparently catchy, but in reality containing nothing meaningful in its content except the advertisement about the product (sites, or anything equivalent). This “clickbait” is arousing rage among most of the internet users, as they really tend to act like viruses which gives nothing but harm to us. Eventually, people on the social networks such as Twitter started their won Anti-Clickbait movement to terminate these abuses. The administrators of Facebook, too, are aware of the annoyance of the clickbaits, declaring to develop a new search algorithm that prevents clickbaits to appear frequently.


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October 2015