Article

Viral Marketing and Exposure to Health and Risk Messages

Helena Sofia Rodrigues and Manuel José Fonseca

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication


Published online July 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780190228613 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.013.337

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In the context of epidemiology, an epidemic is defined as the spread of an infectious disease to a large number of people, in a given population, within a short period of time. When we refer to the marketing field, a message is viral when it is broadly sent and received by the target market through person-to-person transmission. This marketing communication strategy is currently assumed to be an evolution by word of mouth, with the influence of information technologies, and called Viral Marketing. This stated similarity between an epidemic and the viral marketing process is notable yet the critical factors to this communication strategy’s effectiveness remain largely unknown. A literature review specifying some techniques and examples to optimize the use of viral marketing is therefore useful.

Advantages and disadvantages exist to using social networks for the reproduction of viral information. It is very hard to predict whether a campaign becomes viral. However, there are some techniques to improve advertising/marketing communication, which viral campaigns have in common and can be used for producing a better communication campaign overall. It is believed that the mathematical models used in epidemiology could be a good way to model a marketing communication in a specific field. Indeed, an epidemiological model SIR (Susceptible-Infected-Recovered) helps to reveal the effects of a viral marketing strategy. A comparison between the disease parameters and the marketing application, as well as simulations using Matlab software explores the parallelism between a virus and the viral marketing approach.

Keywords: viral marketing; word of mouth; epidemiological model; mathematical models; consumer behavior; marketing strategy; numerical simulations; seed population; marketing communication effectiveness

Article.  9730 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Communication Studies

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