Here is a live example of the effect in progress.
Yesterday I wrote a somewhat controversial post on this blog. Here is the traffic that resulted:
Just to be sure, yes, it’s all traffic for one post (seen below)
The thing is — almost all of these people have never visited Green & White before. So how did they hear about the blog? Why did they choose to come?
The evidence is here:
Notice all of the gmail, yahoo, and lums squirrelmail accounts.
So what does this example have to do with marketing?
Doesn’t controversy sell? Ok seriously.
Everyone who read the post proabably forwarded it to their friends and their friends and their friends.
If this was a product, I would just have to market this to one person — and the news would spread across the social networks to where people will be diving over each other to buy the product.
Provided ofcourse, that the product is actually valuable. Scratch that .. that the story around the product is valuable.
So, the product is a blog post, but maybe the story in these emails was “This raving madman is shunning lums — all students: organize yourself in groups to march out and burn buildings until he stops because we will be destroyed unless we defend our university”
That’s a good story, and it certainly drove people here in hordes with pitchforks and silver stakes.
A good actual physical product can do the same thing: A good product will automatically create a good story around it that people would want to
- explore for themselves to make their own opinions about
- give them an incentive to participate in the story of the product (by either sharing with others, or refining it for themselves)
Did anyone hear about or use this software Napster? Did you know they only ever marketed that product to 50 people?
They called up 50 students in 50 fraternities in 50 universities in America. “Hey man, there’s a cool new software which lets you share music files with your buddies”. That was their total marketing cost.
How many users did they have when the illegal version was shut down — 5M? 50M?
So now you know what a network effect is — the challenge: How to make one for something not controversial.