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Viral Loop: The Power of Pass-it-on Paperback – 12 Nov 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (12 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340918675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340918678
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 21.5 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 679,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adam L. Penenberg is a journalism professor at New York University who has written for Fast Company, Forbes, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Wired, Slate, Playboy, and the Economist. A former senior editor at Forbes and a reporter for Forbes.com, Penenberg garnered national attention in 1998 for unmasking serial fabricator Stephen Glass of the New Republic. Penenberg's story was a watershed for online investigative journalism and portrayed in the film Shattered Glass (Steve Zahn plays Penenberg).

Penenberg has published several books that have been optioned for film and serialized in the New York Times Magazine, Wired UK, and the Financial Times, and won a Deadline Club Award for feature reporting for his Fast Company story "Revenge of the Nerds," which looked at the future of movie-making. He has appeared on NBC's The Today Show as well as on CNN and all the major news networks, and has been quoted about media and technology in the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Wired News, Ad Age, Marketwatch, Politico, and many others.

Product Description

Review

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. Recommended! (Chris Anderson, bestselling author of The Long Tail and Free)

In tight, engaging prose, Adam captures the essence of the ever-scaling power of the virus. It's not just for geeks any more. (Seth Godin, author of Tribes)

Penenberg has unlocked the secret to the most successful digital businesses. An indispensable read. (Robert Safian, Editor-in-Chief, Fast Company)

If you want to understand all things viral, this is the place to start. Penenberg's reporting gives us a ringside seat for some of the biggest viral success stories in history, from Tupperware to Ning. (Dan Heath, co-author of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die)

Book Description

A ground-breaking, agenda-setting book that reveals the business model that has propelled the likes of YouTube, Google, Facebook and MySpace to global success.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. W. Hatfield VINE VOICE on 21 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What do Tupperware, HotorNot and ebay have in common? Answer- they are all proponents of " Viral marketing"- companies that have succeeded through word of mouth alone. There's a real interesting story here- and this book tells half of it.
Neatly and efficiently, it relates the stories of several of these companies that have succeeded through clever use of the public. And fascinating stories they are.
And yet..and yet..
There's something missing here. The book is fun and interesting. But it could have been so much more. it could have been much more analytical, letting the reader see behind the business.
I enjoyed it, but I didn't get the feeling I got reading Freakanomics, for example, that I was seeing what goes on behind the magician's curtain. Just a set of anecdotes. Good anecdotes, mind you- but there could have been so much more...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alison TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Dec 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I spend an inordinate amount of time on the internet so I was drawn to this book for its insight into well known internet businesses including Facebook, MySpace, eBay, PayPal, Flickr and so on. It's not a book that intends to teach about how to create a successful viral business it's more of a biography of the development of viral businesses.

The book starts with a section on "Viral Businesses" with an interesting first chapter about early viral businesses such as Tupperware and the illegal Ponzi scheme. The second chapter looks at the first online viral loop with Mosaic and Netscape. From thereon the history of the internet and its viral loops is biographically covered in sections called "Viral Marketing" and "Viral Networks". The books ends with a short epilogue about the viral nature of human development.

If you are interested in the internet and the businesses that are so prominent in today's web then you will enjoy the detail and insights that this book provides. The writing is clear and easy to read and there are plenty of interesting nuggets about the internet as well as the overall theme of viral networks.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a very interesting survey of the development of "virality" online.

It is enlightening, and accurate, to think of early party-plan selling, like Tupperware, as a type of viral communication. The author follows the development of familiar online facilities, organisations, and networking. The background information on the development of now-famous online resources is very interesting, and the writing style has an enjoyable pace. The internet as a mass medium has only had an existence for about 15 years, and it is fascinating to retrace, and get the background information on, things we have become very well-acquainted with.

A discussion of this topic is highly relevant, for currently the internet has reached the stage of drastically challenging 'traditional' media, including newspapers and commerical television. Those media depend on advertising revenue, and if advertisers find cheaper and more effective ways to market virally online, then the traditional media may cease to exist. And in retail, consider, for example, the success, after slow beginnings, of online retailers like Amazon! Last month, Borders ceased trading in the UK, and the only remaining bookstore chain, Waterstones (owned by HMV) looks to be on shaky ground. Most independent bookstores have closed in the last decade, due to the demise of the Net Book Agreement. So it may be that retail bookstores simply die out on the UK high street, and online retailing continues to increase. It will be most interesting to see what the next year or two brings.

The book naturally focusses on developments in the USA, but for UK readers it might have been nice to have a chapter on friendsreunited, as the intial virality of that site's use, and its subsequent evolution and chges of ownership, have been highly relevant to the UK reader and connstitute an interesting social phenomenon, and an illustration of certain legal complexities.
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By A. Skudder TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First of all, this is not quite what I was expecting: having not read the description properly I thought it was going to be about companies using viral marketing techniques to advertise their products. It is actually about companies that that are themselves viral and which 'sell' themselves as much as their products, and mostly through word-of-mouth rather than any normal advertising.

For the most part this is a series of case studies of what the author calls viral companies - mostly internet-based businesses, but it starts with the story of Tupperware to show that the concept can, and has, worked for traditional companies albeit at a slower pace.

The style is quite straightforward, verging on the folksy at times, but very readable. After a while you feel that the stories fall into the same sort of structure: one or two people start a website for amusement or a niche activity, the userbase grows exponentially, the servers fall over with the weight of traffic, it gets fixed and gets bigger, then a few years after it all started the founders sell up for tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.

Fortunately there are some exceptions, some notable failures are also covered and there are some theories about what a company needs to 'go viral' and take off. Nothing too specific of course - if the author knew how to create a website he could sell for millions in a year he wouldn't be s[pending his time writing a book instead - but nonetheless the concepts seem sound.

So the book won't make you rich, but for anybody who has used Flickr, eBay, PayPal, Ning or Facebook it puts a human face to the familiar websites, and the short history of the browser wars is a nice trip down memory lane. It wasn't that long ago really, but in internet terms it is delving into ancient history.

Certainly worth a read.
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