Today In Twitterverse: Viral Expansion Loops

Jackie Huba is a word of mouth marketing specialist and one half of Church of the Customer.
Here’s the Fast Company article she references.

Andrew Chen, a blogger and former advertising executive who worked with MySpace, calls a viral loop the “most advanced direct-marketing strategy being developed in the world right now.”

It’s an interesting piece, but it can be boiled down to this: create something good, something people really want, need, or enjoy. If you do, people will adopt it and share it—the act of which can make you filthy rich.
[UPDATE] Marc Canter has some rough commentary on Ning and Fast Company’s puff piece.

I create software to better the world – to provide mechanisms to connect people together. Ning sees social networking as the latest fad – and they exploit that notion to better themselves. Now the Libertarians and Republicans out there are now saying: “what’s wrong with that? Isn’t that what it’s all about – money?” I can just visualize Jason Calacanis rubbing his grubby hands together saying “money – money – money” And since this is a free country Ning certainly has the right to do whatever they want – sort of like how the Gun lobby and Military industrial complex has the right to build arms that kill people. Only this time- the weapons are social networks.

Canter also claims that Ning “copied” his ideas.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. The article almost put me in a coma. As you said it boils down to finding people who agree with you on a subject and get them to buy something from you.
    I think in reading it it was a stretch to call it viral, just normal word of mouth marketing, maybe blogging.
    A viral effect occurs if the product is in high demand and a shortage is implied.
    haloIII got it’s legs based on the prior experience of poor distribution of other games during the holidays. Most marketing efforts don’t happen that way without massive paid promotion, thus the anti-viral marketing.

  2. I liked the article myself. Sure it was a little bit of fluff, but the basic concept is sound, and I liek the term, “viral expansion loop”.
    It’s an interesting piece, but it can NOT be boiled down to “create something good, something people really want, need, or enjoy. If you do, people will adopt it and share it—the act of which can make you filthy rich.”
    The beauty of ning (but a better examples are youtube, ebay and craigslist) is that the users create the content! The company doesn’t have to do much of anything except provide the forum. Creativity takes hold after that. Putting it this way, the Internet is one huge viral loop, forums are viral loops and so is email.
    Companies that create content, products, etc. that are to be consumed must constantly create new products and tweak old ones to stay relavent. Their creation machine must never stop. A viral loop company on the otherhand is self marketing, self sustaining, self feeding, and if healthy it grows.