What is the Critical Mass in Marketing and Why is the Individual so Important in Creating a Virus?

Achieving critical mass is one of the biggest mysteries of marketing. You have to understand the concept behind to take a step in the right direction.

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Achieving a critical mass is one of the biggest mysteries of marketing. You have to understand the concept behind to take a step in the right direction.

The critical mass is one of the mysteries of marketing. We would like to have a formula with which we could calculate the number of followers, likes, subscribers or active users that a project needs to get really started.

Nobody can predict about it because it depends on too many factors.

These can be some of them without necessarily being the most appropriate or complete:

  • Level of interaction with the created contents (it is more important to have comments than just many “like” on a Facebook page).
  • Degree of interaction of the brand with the users (are messages answered by mail, Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc. and how long does it take? Is the tone close and are the relationships worked?).
  • Satisfaction of users with the offer (price-quality ratio and overall satisfaction with a product).
  • Market, country, niche and other external factors (markets are different, some more conservative and others more open, also influencing the culture of the country in which you move).
  • Events that have influenced people (the selfie of Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscars reached 43 million people and has an estimated value of more than 1,000 million dollars).

What is the concept behind critical mass and why does it matter?

We all know how much it costs to start a blog, an online store, a start-up, learn a new language, etc.

When we have reached the turning point everything is much easier. It also has to do with the theory of contact points. That explains why in multinational companies many people have to work badly in order to sink them. Size and existing stable billing can forgive many errors for a while without anything happening. In a start-up is totally different. An error can jeopardize the entire project.

Malcolm Gladwell speaks in this context about the “Tipping Point”. The main idea that is for any project or idea is this point of inflection where a diffusion like a virus arises. Obviously it is also related to viral marketing but it goes beyond that concept. I recommend you also read his book in Spanish “The key to success” which is probably one of the most famous.

What to do to reach a critical mass?

Reaching the masses means spending a lot of time with individuals beforehand. This is also confirmed by a recent article in the Wall Street Journal mentioning well-known companies such as Facebook, Pinterest, Airbnb and others. In the beginning the founders have focused on small groups. It could be compared with the elaboration of the virus. For this they have sought the continuous feedback of the first power user that have helped to improve the first version of the product.

You have to change your mindset in this sense to think about how I can do viral marketing in order to maximize the interaction and satisfaction of the first users even if they are very few. They have the potential to be the virus that spreads throughout the network. It is not necessary to look for the ways of diffusion but the first carriers to “infect” the rest.