Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

Seeding Strategies for Viral Marketing: An Empirical Comparison

Barrot, Christian
Becker, Jan
Volume: 75
Number: 6
Pages: 55 - 71
Month: November
ISSN-Print: 0022-2429
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2011
Keywords: Viral marketing; Seeding strategy; Word-of-mouth; Social contagion; Targeting

Seeding strategies have strong influences on the success of viral marketing campaigns, but previous studies using computer simulations and analytical models have produced conflicting recommendations about the optimal seeding strategy. This study therefore compares four seeding strategies in two complementary small-scale field experiments, as well as in one real-life viral marketing campaign involving more than 200,000 customers of a mobile phone service provider. The empirical results show that the best seeding strategies can be up to eight times more successful than other seeding strategies. Seeding to wellconnected individuals is the most successful approach because these attractive seeding points are more likely to participate in viral marketing campaigns. This finding contradicts a common assumption in other studies. Well-connected individuals also actively use their higher reach but do not have more influence on their peers than do less well-connected individuals.