The e-Flu: Are you infected?

When did the common cold become such a welcomed phenomena? With the constant evolution of the Internet, Web marketing has rapidly transformed the term “viral” from a universally fearful term associated with disease into a welcomed – sought after – marketing strategy.

Since the beginning, Web services which excelled in building interactive, dynamic and social applications have been able to gain the interest (and visits) of the Internet-savvy crowd. Following that, the term “viral”- previously perceived as a word with one meaning: a contagious disease – now takes on a new meaning with more and more people aiming to be a part of it! May it be eBay, MySpace, Facebook and moving on to other highly ranked social networks such as Twitter, Digg and del.icio.us, we are clearly able to notice the trend of viral marketing’s expansion as a desired tool that is intentionally allowed to enter into private lives through searches, emails, video and picture sharing services.

YouTube, for instance, went from a few thousand users during 2005, and climbed to the top 10 most visited websites on the Web in less than 6 months. In my opinion, it’s all about filling a need and providing a useful, scalable service. YouTube did that by allowing people to freely host and publish videos on their platform, without the need to worry about bandwidth costs.

According to Dr. Ralph Wilson, E-Commerce Consultant, viral marketing “describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence“. He then goes on to mention the six basic principles of viral marketing, which our example, YouTube, is utilizing so well in its most basic concept. Simply, they offer their users a valuable service for free, as well as encourage them to socialize and share experiences. Doesn’t that by itself shout “Success!”?

Seth Godin (article), a thought leader in the principle of permission marketing, states that “viral marketing is a compounding function”. He gives the example of Numa Numa video, and how it “spread like a toxic waste spill because it was so transparent, reasonably funny and easy to share”. Godin said it, and I can’t agree more: It is of great importance that people understand, like, adopt and spread an idea in order for it to be amongst the list of effective viral infections! In laymen’s terms, if you have the ability to create a story worth telling, that makes people feel good about themselves, you can be the next infection to hit the Web!

Nothing in this life is of one plain color; there are no absolutes! As we can learn from this article, throughout every single day of our lives, new concepts are made and old ones are modified to help change our perception of the world and expand our horizons of thinking and methods of doing things!

Finally, and just as ants have been role models for hard work and dedication in many wisdom books, today viruses as well have proved their ability to teach us the importance of being viral to gain the most of your hard work!

Further readings and links:

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