Viral Loop From Facebook to Twitter How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves by Adam Penenberg
This book is about the network effect. The idea is that for every person that is added to a communication platform like email, telephones, and the internet, the number of potential connections increases exponentially. In its earliest form, it was used by Tupperware to sell products, or people creating chain letters. The book basically says that the network effect is good. I disagree with the idea that popularity is necessarily good. It may be good for business, but not so good for society.
Because I am not a huge fan of advertising, I did not find some of the effects he was describing to be beneficial. It is just as easy to spread spam, unwanted popups, and products that have questionable effects at best, like pornography, online games, and fast food with viral marketing and networks. The tools are neutral; the content is not.
The best part of this book was the technical part. I liked the descriptions of how Facebook, Paypal, and Ning were created to scale based on people inviting others into a network. I also liked his description of how viral networks were challenging newspapers, and now film with their popular methodologies.
Whether or not this is beneficial remains to be seen. I see both positives and negatives with the new technologies. This book very much evangelizes for the point of view that new media is the best thing that is happening today. Things are changing very fast. Lots of people are losing their jobs without training to move with the changes. The digital divide between the technically capable and the not so capable is increasing, not decreasing
The descriptions of the growth of Ebay, Netscape, and tupperware are fascinating. Also the description on how to create a movie using a $10,000 digital videocamera was interesting. If you like web video or pictures, the story of the creation of Youtube and Flickr is written into this book.
The book is divided into three sections; Viral Business, Viral Marketing, and Viral Networks. If you want to learn how a social media company scales quickly, this book will help you tremendously.
This is an excellent overview of the process of building a viral business with a gushing, evangelizing web 2.0 viewpoint. There is a list of the companies which Adam Penenberg covers at the back of the book as well as notes and an index.