IN this business book meant especially for marketing personnel who want to grow their business fast, Penenberg writes about some of the most spectacular success stories in business history, all of which grew incredibly by incorporating what he calls a ‘viral loop’. He says companies such as Skype, Facebook, PayPal and eBay have grown because their users spread their product for them with no need for a marketing budget.
Though business information can be boring for the layperson, but this book is informative while being entertaining, mostly for PR and marketing, as it provides a window to the new world of social marketing with anecdotal stories that stay for long in the mind even after you’ve completed reading the book.
Though it may sound like some get-rich-quick scheme but it is a fact that James Hong and Jim Young demonstrated that it is possible to build a multi-million or even a billion-dollar business simply by designing a product the right way. The trick is they created something people really wanted, so much so that their customers happily spread their product for them through their own social networks of friend, family, colleagues and peers. That is what Web 2.0 did. Such successful companies are powered by what is called a ‘viral expansion loop’ which is accomplished by incorporating virality into the functionality of a product.
The book tells the story of viral referral companies like Tupperware and Hotmail and of the Mosaic browsers which transformed the Internet from a playground for geeks into a mass market phenomenon. It explores the use of double viral loop and demonstrates viral marketing to get at the concept of ‘collective curation’ when the audience decides what’s good and passes it on to others.
Over the last decade and half, some of the world’s most successful businesses have started from scratch and ridden a viral loop. The book also introduces the architects of the viral loop and the companies which profit from its mechanics. It features a multitude of examples as well as occasional theories on virality measures. It shows that there is potential to create wealth fast and on a large scale by starting with so little and how the successful entrepreneurs have done it so far.
(Hachette, an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton, 338 Euston Road, London NW 13 BH. www.hodder.co.uk)