October 30, 2006

The Real Viral Curve

For so long marketers have associated viral marketing with the classic exponential curve – oh how they dream!
Having analysed the performance of over 30 past viral campaigns, we’ve come up with what the viral curve really looks like:

This basically breaks viral activity into 3 distinct stages (as shown below): the initial viral surge as early adopters get hold of a campaign, followed by a period of community buzz as conversations are lit within blogs and communities, followed by a long tail in which the campaign carries on being active around cyberspace.

Possibly the most interesting aspect of the viral curve is the long tail, as this is an aspect of viral marketing that is conceptually new to the advertising world. In traditional media, a campaign runs it’s course once the media budget has been spent. With the free nature of social media, campaigns run and run for as long as the campaign is useful to the social capital of these networks.

To check out thoughts on this in greater detail, check out the research docs in