- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Hyperion; First Edition edition (October 13, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1401323499
- ISBN-13: 978-1401323493
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 58 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #632,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves First Edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
In this clear-eyed collection of case studies, Fast Company contributing writer and NYU journalism professor Penenberg examines the engine driving the growth of web 2.0 businesses like Flickr, YouTube and eBay to Facebook and Twitter: the viral loop. The concept behind a viral loop is simple-in order to use the product, you have to spread it, thus creating massive, user-driven growth cycles-after all, Penenberg explains, social networks like Facebook are worthless to a user if one's friends aren't also using the products. Viral loops are nothing new, of course, and Penenberg has certainly done his homework, tracing the concept back through its analog roots via entertaining and enlightening anecdotes about companies like Tupperware, which used "parties" to turn ordinary housewives into an army of sales reps, to Charles Ponzi-yes, he of the Ponzi scheme, a viral scam recently taken to historic levels by Bernie Madoff. Penenberg truly succeeds, however, in showing how the viral loop has found its groove on the Internet, fueling a wave of billion-dollar companies all built on word of mouth-and, of course, user clicks. Solidly researched and briskly-written, Penenberg at once captures a great business and tech story, as well as a defining moment in our online culture.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Penenberg has unlocked the secret to the most successful digital businesses. An indispensable read."―Robert Safian, Editor-in-Chief, Fast Company
"Instead of entrusting your business to a guru with an agenda and a ghostwriter, you should be turning to a pro journalist like Adam Penenberg, who understands the way media and money interact, has the critical faculty to engage with these phenomena in an unbiased fashion, and the technical facility to explain them to you in an entirely engaging, informative, and actionable way."―Douglas Rushkoff, author of Media Virus and Life Inc: How the world became a corporation and how to take it back
"Penenberg discovers the perpetual motion machine for business and marketing. . . . Buy this book. Catch a virus. Make a fortune."―Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?
"If you want to understand all things viral, this is the place to start. Penenberg's reporting gives us a ringside seat to some of the biggest viral success stories in history, from Tupperware to Ning."―Dan Heath, coauthor of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
"One of the most astounding things about the Web age is how the best advertising is often no advertising at all. Penenberg masterfully explains how this works with case studies of products that were designed to spread. Every product can use a dose of this technique; this is the book to get to learn how."―Chris Anderson, author of Free: The Future of a Radical Price
"Adam Penenberg's lively book opens a window to all of our futures."―Ken Auletta, author of Googled: The End of the World as We Know It
"In tight engaging prode, Penenberg captures the essence of the ever-scaling power of the virus. It's not just for geeks anymore."―Seth Godin, author of Tribes
Top customer reviews
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The book provides some interesting insight into many of the products and services we know well, such as Netscape and EBay, that have grow from humble beginnings into multi billion dollar businesses. The book does contain examples of how viral growth was seeded by things such as the Hotmail email signature tag.
What the book probably best illustrates is how simple ideas can catch on and grow beyond the wildest dreams of their inventors. All you need is an idea and then some strategy to allow it to be shared. The Internet now makes such a strategy much easier but is does not however guarantee success by any means.
The book is easy to read and is very entertaining. Inside it does contain the reasons why some products go viral but these by by no means can applies to other products. However, the book does demonstrate how very simply ideas, with virtually no formal marketing or advertising can grow astronomically with no investment except for networking people.
This is a near painless view of what's happening all around us old timers in the post 9/11 period of American history. You probably need to do this if you were born in the pre-Korean "conflict" era.
The author, interestingly, starts with Tupperware, a company that has nothing to do with the internet. Tupperware, however, was the first company to use social groups to sell. All pyramid schemes(Amway, Quickstar), operate using the same mechanisms.
Some of the companies covered in the book are: hotmail, flickr, facebook, ebay, myspace, paypal, bebo, netscape, friendster, twitter, more. What's interesting is that all these companies grew virally with no advertising costs(payal was the exception, offering users 10$ to join). Most of them not only grew virally, but could not be displaced by newer companies who had deeper pockets and invested in advertising as well as financial lures. According to the book - once a viral network achieves a viral loop and a point on non displacement it cannot be stopped. That's debatable. Specially considering orkut had a huge user base and was quickly replaced by facebook in almost all countries. Similarly for email, even though yahoo and hotmail had a huge user base, users quickly switched to gmail. Facebook too is now on the email bandwagon. Companies need to stay current and offer fresh services to ensure that users see value.
The way I see it, all these social networks will converge at some point. Or will stay separate but feed into the others' user base ensuring that the overall social ecosystem gets more robust.
There is an interesting formula in the book related to viral co-efficient. Companies would require a viral co-efficient of over 1 to get into viral growth mode.
Viral co-efficient = x*y>1 gives you viral growth
Eg: If you invite 10 friends and 15% join
Viral co-efficient = 10*.15= 1.5 > 1
If you invite 10 friends and 5% join
Viral co-efficient = 10*.05= 0.5 < 1 and this network will not grow virally.
The book is more about history than anything else and doesn't offer any real insight into the future or even the present (considering the book was written in 2009 when facebook was at 200 mill versus 500 mill today). That is a big failing since in terms of insights the book has nothing to offer. The stories keep you hooked and its fascinating to rewind to how some of today's titans started. And that by itself is a really good reason to read this book.
Most recent customer reviews
Big hits are there, but lacks deept in the examples.