In anticipation of his new book Viral Loop about “the interconnectedness of today’s socially networked society” and the way things grow online, Adam Penenberg (Fast Company, Wired) has commissioned the design of an eponymous Facebook application to test his thesis. Described as part “infographic, game, and research project” Viral Loop estimates what slice of Facebook’s billions are all thanks to you, based on your friends list and site activity. But in a meta twist, the application also functions as an advertisement for Penenberg’s upcoming tech book.
Almost everything seems to be slagging right now (except Joe Wilson‘s Twitter followers!) and book sales are no exception. With advertising budgets down along with all else, many publishers are looking to a book’s author to be its primary salesman, creatively stretching what funds they’re allotted into some sort of viral marketing campaign, including websites, hashtags, and YouTube videos.
The Viral Loop application for Facebook takes a sci-fi aesthetic and proceeds to plot and value your friends on a futuristic web (check out the screenshot below), in a self-described attempt to illustrate how members of social networks participate with and “create value” for the networks they use.
But what makes Penenberg’s take interesting is that while promoting the book, it is also entirely topical. It would be the equivalent writing a book about eBay and marketing the book through a series of online auctions. It’s not unlike another creative (if circular) book advertising technique used by the creators of This Is Why You’re Fat — a Tumblr of “food porn” that scored a book deal, only to again turn to Tumblr to market the bound version of the site. What a world!
Check out Viral Loop here and if your worth is high enough, please email Mark Zuckerberg requesting, at the very least, a thank you note.
Full Disclosure: Penenberg was a professor of mine at New York University.
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