In 1997, venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson first used the term “viral marketing” to describe network-assisted word of mouth. They’d seen its power first-hand with Hotmail, which included a vector for infection in every email—the now-famous link at the bottom of a message that invited recipients to get their own Hotmail account.
Years earlier, Frank Bass, an academic known as one of the “founders of marketing science”, described how messages propagated out in a marketplace. His 1969 paper, “A new product growth model for consumer durables” explained how messages trickle out into a market through word of mouth. At first, the spread starts slowly; but as more and more people start talking about it, spread accelerates. However, as the market becomes saturated with people who’ve heard the message, spread slows down again. This gives the Bass Diffusion Curve the characteristic S-shape shown in Figure 17-1.
Figure 17-1. Three certainties: death, taxes, and market saturation
When researchers compared the spread of Hotmail to the predictions from Bass’ model, they found an almost perfect fit.
In the Virality Stage, it’s time to focus on user acquisition and growth, but keep an eye on your stickiness too.
There’s a risk that you build virality and word of mouth at the expense of engagement. Perhaps you’re bringing in new users ...