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Journal of Marketing Insights in the Classroom

Seeding Strategies for Viral Marketing: An Empirical Comparison

Oliver Hinz, Bernd Skiera, Christian Barrot and Jan U. Becker

Journal of Marketing Insights in the Classroom

JM Insights in the Classroom

Full Citation: ​
Hinz, Oliver, Bernd Skiera, Christian Barrot and Jan U. Becker (2011), “Seeding Strategies for Viral Marketing: An Empirical Comparison,” Journal of Marketing, 75 (6), 55-71.

Abstract Article
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 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 well-connected people 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 people also actively use their greater reach but do not have more influence on their peers than do less well-connected people. 


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Topic Areas: ​
Customer Behavior, Consumer Behavior; Consumer Psychology; Digital Marketing; Marketing Metrics; Marketing Strategy; Social Media; Social Networks; and Word of Mouth, User-Generated Content, Text Analysis​​​​

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Marketing StrategyConsumer BehaviorDigital MarketingSocial Media MarketingMarketing Analytics​;Advertising & Promotions

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Oliver Hinz

Bernd Skiera

Bernd Skiera is Chaired Professor of Marketing, Goethe University.

Christian Barrot

Jan U. Becker