Viral marketing has been widely studied, and research indicates such efforts to be considered necessary in successful promotional crusades (Digital Strategy Consulting, 2013). Epidemiology is the scientific study of those biological progressions which encompass the patterns, causes, and effects of infectious disease models in an effort to determine their transmission (Wikipedia, 2013). Epidemiological processes may be related to viral marketing campaigns when seeking greater understanding of preferred product and service promotional methodology and development.
Epidemiology is a science, and thus is objective in nature. Marketing, though deliberated and applied scientifically, is largely an art in application, and as such subjective. Therefore, certain epidemiological concepts must be examined in terms of marketing diligence. The following are attempts to fulfill this goal.
Hosts and vectors (Yahoo! Answers, 2013)
Hosts – Potential clients in the targeted demographic whose behavioral profile anticipates willingness for content sharing via word-of-keyboard.
Vectors – Channels which allow message/information communication infectivity broadcast through diffusion and conduction to hosts. Most specifically these will be included in the social Web, but also incorporate eMail, television, direct marketing efforts, and other interactions.
Virulence and infectivity
Virulence (Wikipedia, 2013) – Pathogenicity, or ability to infect; in the case of marketing, this refers to the notice and remembrance by hosts of desired message/information via penetration, adhesion, and colonization within targeted demographics.
Infectivity (Wikipedia, 2013) – Capacity for horizontal message/information transmission (within non-relational groups, e.g. dissociated and individual social graphs, varying social media and other marketing channels, etc.). Infectivity in a population is called incidence.
Another important concept that should be comprehended is word-of-keyboard. This updates the concept of word-of-mouth; globalized communication is conducted over the Internet via computers and smartphones (Internet World Stats, 2013). Thus, the term “word-of-keyboard” is more apt as a description of the way information is interactively transmitted and received in a contemporary fashion.
Attention is now given to how the epidemiological process relates to established marketing procedure, and how this process can be applied to viral efforts:
Epidemiological process (Wikipedia, 2013)
- Establish existence – Determine the existence of marketing message/information virulence and transference through monitored channels.
- Confirm homogeneity – Establish consistency of preferred marketing message/information across monitored channels.
- Collect events – Data mining of metrics.
- Characterize events as to factors
- Predisposing (non-environmental) – Events unaffected by environmental factors (time of day, channel selection, etc.).
- Enabling/disabling (environmental) – Events affected by environmental factors.
- Precipitation (source agents) – Identification of alpha users and other trend influencers.
- Reinforcing (enablers) – Events empowering message/information transmission.
- Note patterns & trends – Ascertain dynamics of commonality.
- Formulate hypothesis – Develop a working theory based on gathered metrics.
- Test hypothesis – Apply the theory under tightly controlled conditions to determine viability.
- Report – Curate and aggregate gathered intelligence for reference.
Much study is left to be conducted to ascertain and establish the efficacy of these theories presented here. Yet this should serve as a starting point for intelligence gathering, and indeed may provide scaffolding for the ambitious marketer to initiate a structured viral marketing campaign. Epidemiological processes may be related to viral marketing campaigns when seeking greater understanding of preferred product and service promotional methodology and development.
Digital Strategy Consulting. (2013, October 8th). Viral video marketing case studies – the best virals of 2012 – Digital Intelligence. Retrieved from Dgital Strategy Consulting: http://www.digitalstrategyconsulting.com/intelligence/2012/11/viral_video_marketing_case_studies_the_best_virals_of_2012.php
Internet World Stats. (2013, October 8th). Internet Growth Statistics – the Global Village Online. Retrieved from Internet World Stats: http://www.internetworldstats.com/emarketing.htm
Wikipedia. (2013, October 8th). Epidemiological method – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidemiological_method
Wikipedia. (2013, October 8th). Epidemiology – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidemiology
Wikipedia. (2013, October 8th). Infectivity – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infectivity
Wikipedia. (2013, October 8th). Virulence – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virulence
Yahoo! Answers. (2013, October 8th). What is a vector? A host? Retrieved from Yahoo! Answers: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100323103736AAnmmQK