Ideal Viruses

Riffing off Seth Godin’s idea virus concept and adding to the literature surrounding viral marketing, Rebecca Weeks recently considered whether online viral marketing was a friend — or a foe. Seemingly deciding that it’s a good — yet an old — idea, she offers that viral marketing campaigns are held back by two things: a community of influencers and adequate incentives to spread the word.

While I’d argue that the Raging Cow campaign is not a good example of viral marketing that works, I agree that there are rarely good reasons to participate in viral campaigns — even some of the better efforts. I’m going to tell friends and colleagues about something because it’s cool and it meets a need, not because I can win a red wagon.

As a followup this week, Weeks turns to how marketers can better design and deploy viral marketing campaigns. As I reread the two pieces, they strike me as somewhat light. Does Weeks add anything to the growing practice of viral marketing? Or is she merely an apologist for spam?