The Network Laws of Viral Marketing

J. L. Iribarren and E. Moro 
Enviado (2007) [pdf

Proliferation of online media has made word-of-mouth message propagation easier than ever and brought plenty of attention to the Viral Marketing tactics using it. However, current understanding of how online word-of-mouth spreads is superficial at best. Here we report the results of research conducted on viral messages propagation data collected from real market tactics involving more than 31,000 participants in eleven European countries. Through empirical observation of the topology and structural properties of the social network paths followed by those messages we gained valuable insights on their diffusion dynamics. Analysis of their interactions network led us to identify four basic features of their diffusion process which are summarized here as the “Network Laws of Viral Marketing.”  Those properties are fundamentally different from the ones found in human diseases or computer viruses propagation which have been widely used until now as proxy models of viral marketing processes. The laws cover aspects such as the large heterogeneity of viral spreading behaviour, the correlation between viral propagation parameters, the shape and size distribution of virally infected cascades or the offering adoption growth triggered by the viral activity. All the laws are formulated quantitatively and their predictions closely match empirical measures. Therefore, the “Network Laws of Viral Marketing” constitute a valuable toolkit for viral tactics planning, optimization and prediction which will allow marketers to expand their campaigns reach at low cost and to use viral marketing strategically rather than as a simple tactical add-on.

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