Viral Marketing, Why Sites Get Huge.

Ever wonder how Myspace, friendster, facebook, Plentyoffish.com etc got so big?  It all comes down to viral marketing.   If you randomly ask 10 at some point in the day if they would use your product and 6 of them or more say yes then it will be highly viral.    Myspace took off because 6+/10 would say yes when you visit a high school.   Facebook was the same thing except in university.  Digg.com would get a yes answer if you asked people working in tech companies.  In summary you need a high concentration of people who need your product or service.   This is how large mainstream sites are born.

To many people in the “web 2.0” world are running around wondering why none of the products there ever go mainstream.   I think the answer is simple.    Techcrunch is the launching platform for new web 2.0 companies and is amplified by digg.com which reaches a few hundred thousand tech people.  Those 2 companies combined have created a “virtual world” that reaches 50%+ of tech people.  You can reach 50% of your target market in 24 hours, is there any other community on this planet where you can reach that many people that quickly?  Now if you launch a product like a news reader, or something that 6/10 people of that community will like, it will spread like fire.  The problem is that outside of this virtual world there is no point during the day where more then 6/10 people care, hence no viral adoption in the mainstream.

Now it seems some people want to push new age marketing crap like Pinko Marketing to get viral.   Companies like Riya got big  because they got featured on techcrunch a few times,  got on digg a few times and created some fake buyout rumors.    This allowed them to effectively reach hundreds of thousands of tech people, who were very interested in this Photos.  These users had flooded to fickr before and now they poured into Riya.   The whole concept of being part of the community etc etc is all bs.  Like in the offline world people will use your product because its cool and it will go viral, no amount of spamming community sites is going to help you.    As for listening to your community and implementing everything they ask for is a sure way of running your company into the ground.   99% of people who use your site are going to use only the most basic features or functions and they don’t want more stuff.  If you start adding features and functions to keep the extreme 1% happy  sure you will make them extremely happy but you will piss off a good 30% of your users because your product has now moved to far away from what the mainstream wants and as a result your word of mouth will die.    

 

So what is the different between marketing in 1999 and today?   In 1999 you spammed everyone,  in 2006 you spam communities with a high concentration of people that are interested in your product or service and you buy adwords for queries relating to your product or service.   If you are a A-list blogger  you can constantly blog about companies you own/work for and provide endless link bait for reporters trolling  techmeme.com, techcrunch and digg.com Myspace Killer……  If I had to come up with something I would say clone myspace and only allows High School bands on it.   That would so much more viral then what, made myspace big.

18 Responses to “Viral Marketing, Why Sites Get Huge.”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Myspace originally got popular because of it’s band’s, right?

  2. timethief Says:

    An excellent and timely article. I believe this is be a key point; “The whole concept of being part of the community etc etc is all bs. Like in the offline world people will use your product because its cool and it will go viral, no amount of spamming community sites is going to help you.”

  3. Markus Says:

    Kevin is being funny. Ya I think the 100 million email addresses at myspaces disposal from euniverse and having one of the largest spyware networks may have aided their growth.

  4. Vincent Chan Says:

    But isn’t viral marketing will eventually cool down one day? is that imply that using this method alone cannot help these sites to being cool forever?

  5. Rob Mayhew Says:

    Nothing lasts forever. Also Viral marketing has a lot to do with luck and timing. You need to be the right site, at the right time filling the right need. What is viral today may not be tomorrow.

  6. Dave Dash Says:

    Timing is everything. I submit on occasion stuff to digg, and reddit, and it always surprises me what things get picked up and what doesn’t, and some things just get noticed due to being on the front page at the right hour.

    Another thing that helps is sites need to be *IMMEDIATELY* useful. If they aren’t they won’t pick up.

  7. Viele Fische und Adsense Mäuse dank Viral Marketing » Peter’s Webmaster Blog Says:

    [...] Aufsehen erregt hat Markus im März, als Scoble in einem Beitrag über ihn geschrieben und die “Ugly-Design-Debatte” angerissen hat. Die Grundidee dabei ist, dass Sites mit amateurhaftem Design besser konvertieren, weil sie von den Besuchern als vertrauenswürdiger empfunden werden im Vergleich zu “big fancy corporate-style sites”. Im Mai wurde von 2webcrew ein vielbeachteter Podcast veröffentlicht mit einem Interview, in dem Markus einige seiner Geheimnisse preisgibt. Seit kurzem betreibt er nun ein eigenes Blog, The Paradigm Shift. In einem Beitrag von vorgestern beschreibt er, wie aus seiner Sicht Viral Marketing funktioniert und wie Sites wie plentyoffish.com davon profitieren. Es gibt seit dem Erfolg der MillionDollarHomepage viel Hype rund um Viral Marketing, wobei oft vergessen wird, dass das beste Viral Marketing langfristig nichts nutzt, wenn dem User nicht ein toller Service mit klarem Mehrwert geboten wird! [...]

  8. timethief Says:

    Markus, although I’m a proto-blogger (a cool euphemism for being a newbie). I’m not a shallow youth. I’m an experienced reporter.

    I was of two minds after reading the blog entry and the comment above. First I thought the statement could be real. Second I thought it could have been written tongue in cheek. You refer to “Kevin” – well, I understood the sarcasm embedded in his comment.

    The response I chose to make flowed from the thoughts I had when I first read the blog entry above. “Who the flip is this blogger and why does he/she not have and “about” page?” hmmmm. Why is he/she going on about a timeless topic as though it’s news?

    Ha, ha! I said to myself. This could indicate he/she is trying to make the point that an unknown blogger can provide endless link bait for reporters trolling on the subject of “viral marketing” by sucking them into commenting. But I’ll never know that unless I nibble the bait, will I?

    These are the basics successful journalists the world over followed prior to the creation of the internet. They haven’t changed.
    (1) Become a trendsetter as opposed to being a fashion follower. Anticipate the news, rather than waiting for “it” to happen.
    (2) Produce seductively titled fast food type articles with a hook in the first 250 characters so it will be “picked up” by syndicated news feeds.
    (3) Be astute when it comes to timing the release of what you are putting on the “menu”.

    Then I thought: Gee, I think I’ll flutter my eyelashes and fawn in agreement to uncover what’s up.

    You see that’s why I commented using the quote I did Markus. My aim was to draw him/her (the blogger) out. And you thought I missed the boat (rotflmao) I ask you isn’t this form of dialogue just a bloody hoot?

    I tried an experiment with my political blog which was originally supposed to be focused only on local happenings. I went “global” (I wrote on global warming/climate change) just as Al Gore’s movie was beginning to be viral marketed.

    I titled my product astutely and wrote a hook into the first 250 characters. Voila! the spiders found me and I watched my stats increase as the virus spread. Today I’m shaking my head as I look at my trackbacks and see who is chasing me.

    I know this run won’t last forever. Nothing “newsworthy” does, regardless of how large the “reporting community” may be. Moreover, it’s always been the leading reporters who create what’s news and that’s what this whole viral phenomenon is about. It’s not new. The technology simply spreads it faster.

    Some think we bloggers run the risk of becoming running dog types snapping at the heels of a few Scoble’s. In what way does that differ from the past? In the final analysis the readers who “buy” what we serve an if the same product is being vomited up by everyone and his dog it will rapidly become passe. Take the ordinary cup of coffee as an example. It’s now becoming vogue again to say “no – just coffee please” when offered latte or cappachino.

    P.S. Would our “host” blogger please introduce him or herself? And can anyone translate the German comment above?

  9. jop Says:

    dude- you are a fucking rockstar… i really think that you are on the verge of being a blog celebrity…amazing stuff…

  10. timethief Says:

    Hhmmm not even the link I gave him brought our host out of hiding? Why would a “fucking rockstar celebrity” have an apprehension about introducing himself to his readers?

  11. Paul Fabretti Says:

    They all got big because they were good. They all got big because they satisfied a need.

    Products and services do not become good just because they get mentioned by word of mouth or are mentioned on techcrunch.

    If a product or service is good, it WILL get spread.

    Viral is just another vehicle to spread the word, and what do you need to make viral work (apart from cool content)? Community.

    And THAT is what makes “web 2.0″ marketing different. Not Techcrunch.

    You quite rightly say that Techcrunch is the launching platform for many new companies, which it is, but what we don’t all see (as we can’t be all places all the time) is the communities that were involved to enable the startup to have generated ANY interest at all.

    The root of all successful modern marketing is community which is what Pinko Marketing is all about.

    Like timethief, part of me doesn’t want to waste time giving this guy any of MY TIME but if nothing else, hopefully he’ll learn something about how the internet DOES work.

  12. justthefacts Says:

    Markus I love reading your blog. It’s such a breath of fresh air to hear original thinking and real logic in this web 2.0 craze. As an x-intermix employee I rarely hear the real reason for MySpace’s success – which you nailed. They spammed the eUniverse list like crazy to seed the MySpace database. The founders actually come from the porn/spam industry.

  13. lester Says:

    good post – filled my coffee break

  14. Optin Accelerator Says:

    Speaking about myspace and facebook viral success…

  15. Epos Direct Says:

    its really very good information in your blog, its really helpful me. thanks dear

  16. zannc Says:

    Wow What great blog,I enjoyed reading this blog very much its answered some topics that, I was interested in knowing about.Thanks for a great blog, Markus.

  17. Grupo Musical Versatil Says:

    I belive some sites get huge, because are usefull and offers something to international people.

  18. yates en ibiza Says:

    Products and services do not become good just because they get mentioned by word of mouth or are mentioned on techcrunch.

    If a product or service is good, it WILL get spread.

    Viral is just another vehicle to spread the word, and what do you need to make viral work (apart from cool content)? Community.

    And THAT is what makes “web 2.0″ marketing different. Not Techcrunch.

    You quite rightly say that Techcrunch is the launching platform for many new companies, which it is, but what we don’t all see (as we can’t be all places all the time) is the communities that were involved to enable the startup to have generated ANY interest at all.

    The root of all successful modern marketing is community which is what Pinko Marketing is all about.

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