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How to ensure a Successful Viral Marketing Campaign – Mathematically

In Viral Marketing For the Real World (HBR, May 2007), Duncan Watts and Jonah Peretti described a simply way to make viral campaigns successful, even when they do not go past the ‘tipping point’.

This concept was first described in the book ‘Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwel. It basically describes how ideas spread, in a fashion similar to epidemics, with each person exposed to the idea sharing it with others, which turns into an ever-expanding circle of ‘infected’ people who become aware of the idea. The concept ‘Tipping Point’ itself ‘tipped’ among marketeers worldwide., albeit with the help of some good old-fashioned marketing techniques.

They Described the mathematics of the Tipping Point concept. The picture below shows how ideas ‘tip’ when the number of people exposed to it, also known as ‘seeds’, go on to infect another person with it.

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However, if each seed fails to share it with at least two more people on the average, the Idea is doomed to never tip, making it a failure.

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However, this problem can be solved by maximizing the numbers of ‘seeds’ which are reached at the initial stage.

The picture below illustrates the value of a high-seed campaign with the rate of reproduction below the Tipping Point – start with lots of seeds and the total number of people reached is still pretty high.

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Source : HowDesign Magazine, June 2007

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