There is no such thing as a viral marketing expert ..


Since I am involved significantly with web 2.0, I was asked this question last week – Can you recommend a marketing person who understands viral marketing?.

I know many good marketing people – but I don’t believe that there exists a marketing person who understands viral marketing

The reasons are

a) The basics of viral marketing are easy to get the wikipedia entry on viral marketing is a good start – and is just about all the generic knowledge you need for viral marketing . In that sense, you don’t need to pay anyone to know about the generics of viral marketing. In fact, almost by definition – the fundamentals of viral marketing must be simple and must be known to most people(else if it were by some esoteric, secret mechanism – the application would not spread virally anyway)

b) Viral marketing is a function of product design. The products that have succeeded virally – have done so because they were truly superior products(technically and functionally). They are radically different from the existing set of products – hence their demand can’t be gauged by traditional marketing means like focus groups or by asking the potential customers.

Skype is probably the best example of this. Skype is a product which provides a superior user experience due to its excellent technology – leading users to recommend it to others

Thus, my advice is – you can get to know all you need to know about the generics of viral marketing from the public domain. You should then start with the product design team and work from there. If you already have a product and then retrospectively try to think of how to ‘viral market’ it – you have lost it already!

Thus, no marketing person can tell you much about viral marketing (since it’s a function of product design) and the information the product design team needs to know – is already available in the public domain

But then I would say that – I am an engineer doing a Phd!


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  1. Most of the so-called viral marketing or social marketing seems only to be nothing more than massive spike in traffic followed by a sharp drop. There is no persistency needed to substain a long term business model with viral marketing. Many will try, and vast majority will fail with a few luck out.