Josh Elman has a terrific article The Five Types of Virality and choosing the right one for your product to grow on the Greylock Partners site. (Greylock funded two of my companies, Course Technology, Inc. and Mainspring Communications) back in the last century.
I posted about the need to build virality into B2C products as the cost of customer acquisition in consumer markets is so high relative to the lifetime value of a customer that traditional customer acquisition techniques are cost-prohibitive. B2C – build in virality or bust.
But what Josh does is explain the different approaches to building virality into your products. He outlines five types of virality:
- Word-of-mouth – this is what we all tend to think of when we think of virality.It’s simply a product being so good that people can’t help telling their friends about it.
- Incentivized word-of-mouth virality – paid word of mouth. PayPal and Uber have employed this technique.
- Demonstration virality – seeing is believing! For example, friends watching you use your phone to get a car to pick you up – Uber.
- Infectious virality – Infectious virality is when a product is designed in a way that people will work to get other people using it because it will make it better for both of them.
- Outbreak virality – things that spread because they’re fun to share.
I recommend reading the comments on Josh’s post as well, some good insights there.
If you are developing a consumer product this post is must reading.