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.