Dandelion

We’ve all seen it before, a small company comes out of nowhere and takes the world by storm. Within days everyone seems to know about them. How is this possible? Many times this happens by accident, but other times, it has been carefully planned out to go viral — spreading the news like wildfire.

Ten Ways to go Viral

  1. Automate – Let the machine do the work for you. It allows a small staff to accommodate a large number of users and this allows high scalability.
  2. Low Barrier To Entry – Let users use it right away, good examples of this are Google, YouTube, MySpace. You can browse and use it, and for more options you can always register.
  3. Stickiness – Something that causes users to keep coming back. Obviously, quality content is the most important factor, but presentation and layout are also factors.
  4. Network Effects – Additional features complement existing features – in other words, a platform.
  5. Hype – Then deliver the goods.
  6. Share This – Spread content to others. This includes invites, e-mailing to a friend, and submitting content to social sites. Without good content no one will spread the news, but if nobody knows about it you can’t be successful.
  7. Popular – Show the top content. The most popular content has staying power.
  8. Related – Show related content. The likelihood that a user will read, look at, or listen to related content is high.
  9. Search – Provide a way for users to find what they are looking for.
  10. Simple – Make it easy and intuitive to navigate and use.


Firefox

There are many examples of viral marketing and advertising. Below are a few successful examples. All of these examples have a loyal following and fan-base.

In particular, note that Google has all 10 of the viral numbers; however, Apple does not. This does not mean that Apple is not as valuable as Google, it just means that they have not utilized all the available viral marketing techniques. What this does not take into account is that Apple’s number 7 — hype — is extremely powerful, especially with Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field (RDF) in full-effect. Which major products within these organizations are we considering? For Apple iTunes, it may have different viral numbers than, say, the Apple iPhone. I have not considered the impact of each of these viral numbers on an organization, but which ones the organization utilizes.

You may also consider Mozilla, they have pulled out most of the stops to really push recognition of their Firefox browser in the media in both the online and offline worlds. They have websites dedicated to specifically Spread Firefox. In the offline world they have put full-page ads in the NYTimes, there are buttons, stickers, T-Shirts.

Examples of Viral Phenomenon

  • Apple
    • 1 – iTunes
    • 2 – iTunes on Win/Mac, Switch to x86, Safari on Win/Mac, Unix-certified
    • 3 – Mac OS X, OS X, iLife, iTunes, Security
    • 4 – Mac OS X, OS X, Macintosh, iLife, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, AppleTV, etc.
    • 5 – Steve Jobs RDF, Branding
    • 7 – iTunes Top Content
    • 9 – Spotlight
    • 10 – “It just works”
  • Craigslist
    • 1 – Web-based applications
    • 2 – Registration not necessary to use
    • 3 – Classifieds
    • 7 – Best of Craigslist
    • 9 – Search box
  • Digg
    • 1 – Web-based applications, automated people voting
    • 2 – Registration not necessary to use
    • 3 – Links
    • 4 – Links to every site out there
    • 6 – Digg Button
    • 7 – Frontpage
    • 9 – Search box
  • eBay
    • 1 – Web-based applications, automated auctions
    • 2 – Registration not necessary to use
    • 3 – Auction items
    • 4 – Skype, PayPal
    • 6 – eBay widgets
    • 7 – Popular auction items
    • 9 – Search box
  • Google
    • 1 – Web-based applications, Pagerank
    • 2 – Registration not necessary to use
    • 3 – Index
    • 4 – Search, AdSense/AdWords, Apps, Maps, GMail, Orkut, OpenSocial, YouTube, etc.
    • 5 – Branding
    • 6 – Invite, AdSense
    • 7 – Zeitgeist, Analytics, Search Rankings
    • 8 – Search, Did you mean, language translation
    • 9 – Search
    • 10 – Simplified index of the Web, bare minimum interface
  • Mozilla
    • 2 – Compatible with W3C standards
    • 3 – Security
    • 4 – Plugin architecture
    • 5 – Branding
    • 6 – Spread Firefox
    • 9 – Search box integrated with other search engines
  • MySpace
    • 1 – Web-based applications
    • 2 – Registration not necessary to use
    • 3 – Profiles
    • 4 – Pictures, Music, Videos
    • 5 – Branding
    • 6 – Invite, Add Friend, Widget Platform
    • 7 – Popular Profiles, Music, Videos
    • 9 – Search box
  • TechMeme
    • 1 – Web-based applications, automated linking
    • 2 – Registration not necessary to use
    • 3 – Links
    • 7 – Frontpage
    • 8 – WeSmirch, Memeorandum, Ballbug
    • 9 – Search box
    • 10 – Simplify hot news
  • Wikipedia
    • 1 – Web-based applications, automated wiki
    • 2 – Registration not necessary to use
    • 3 – User generated articles
    • 8 – Wiki Commons – Audio, Images, Video
    • 9 – Search box
    • 10 – Simplify encyclopedia



Can You Think Of Any More?

I’m sure you can come up with even better examples. Leave us a comment with a viral phenomena along with the viral numbers used to achieve its rapid growth.