The term “viral marketing” was probably first coined by Jeffrey Rayport in an article “The Virus of Marketing” in the December ’96 issue of Fast Company. That’s not to say that there weren’t viral marketing campaigns before that, but as the Internet developed, so have the electronic tools for passing on information.

Word of mouth has existed as long as there have been words and mouths, but it is a fairly recent phenomenon in the world of marketing. Positive word of mouth can have a tremendous impact on a brand, and can take up little to nothing of the marketing department’s budget. However, planning for and measuring word of mouth can be tricky and unpredictable.

As the connected nature of the Internet has allowed for easier spreading and tracking of word of mouth information, it has become possible to see how this can be modelled on the spread of a virus in a population.