Viral Marketing Communication

In marketing on December 1, 2009 by Magnolia Tagged:

In Boase and Wellman (2001) state that there are several similarities between biological virus and viral marketing. In both cases the diffusion depends on networks rather than growing in situ. They concluded that the spread of virus and viral marketing are shaped by the nature of interpersonal relationships and the structure and composition of the interpersonal networks.

Viral marketing as virus can be spread according to two archetypes: densely knit groups and ramified networks (Boase and Wellman 2001).

Viral Communication Model

In densely knit groups, most members know each other, are in frequent contact with each other, but they have little contact with outsiders. On the other hand, in ramified networks few members are in contact with each other and a large portion of interactions are with outsiders. Viral marketing messages can be spread across a small group of people, in which members are closely bounded, or several groups of people which maintain weak ties.


Boase, J., and Wellman, B., 2001. A Plague of Viruses: Biological, Computer and Marketing. Current Sociology. 49(6), pp. 39-55

2 Responses to “Viral Marketing Communication”

  1. Which model would you consider the most efficient? Which one do companies use for their marketing strategies?

    In my opinion, I would not consider anymore (keep in mind this theory was created in 2001, when internet was not the powerful tool we know nowadays) the density knit model as a viral marketing tool. Indeed, as it is a “closed model”, the destinataries of the message is limited. Given the possibilities internet offers to transmit a message (whatever its nature is, personal/profesional/adds,..), the density knit appears to me useless.

    Do you agree with that statement?

    Perhaps it has a specific application, and it is as efficient as the rest of the models; if it is the case I would like to know a bit further about this model,..

    By the way, very interesting and complete website, keep informing us about viral marketing!

  2. Thank you for your comment Guillaume. As you said the ramified network model describes precisely the spread of a viral marketing campaigns which are seen by thounds of people; however, the spread of other types of viral messages (personal infomation, photos, etc.)is limited to the members of closed groups such as relatives or friends. In this case, the model which explains better the diffusion of the viral message is Densely Knit.

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