I have previously written about Fixed and flexible networks.
By “flexible networks” I mean the kind of networks we have around us where we chose who will be included depending on the situation. For example, if we want to know something about a product we are thinking of buying, we ask people we will be able to contribute with information to make us make a better decision. The situation and what we want to achieve determines who we communicate with.
On the other hand, “fixed networks” are the kind of networks where we don’t determine who is included depending on the situation. These are the networks where information, independently of the content, are passed along to the same network. With the digitalization of media, and the more and more common “status updates” we make on Twitter, Jaiku, Facebook and more, it becomes more and more common to communicate with everybody in our network, independently of exactly what we are communicating.
At first I thought people would hold back a bit on what they published this way, that they would filter it more. Now it seems more and more obvious to me that this is not the case – people don’t filter very much at all. Status updates are about pretty much anything, private and not. Stuff is recommended, questions are asked about problems with products and services, and warnings about stuff that doesn’t live up to expectations are issued.
When the masses started communicating digitally, for example with email, marketers started talking about viral marketing and the possibility to spread word of mouth digitally, and get a lot more leverage that way.
These past few years it seems we have reached the next level of viral marketing. If someone previously passed something on to five or ten of their closer friends, the same thing is now published to 100 or more contacts on for example Facebook. This way, messages are relayed, and get spread even further, to new networks, through the strength of weak ties.
This effect gets even more power through different aggregation services which makes it possible to publish a status update on several sites at once, reaching different networks where we have different profiles.
Seems like viral marketing has reached the next level.