An Ideavirus is a concept in marketing and technology that refers to a contagious idea or trend that spreads rapidly within a community or market, often through the internet or other communication channels. It is an analogy to a biological virus since it has the ability to self-replicate and gain momentum among people. Ideaviruses are usually driven by online influencers and social networks, promoting the sharing and dissemination of captivating ideas or products.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Ideavirus” is: /ˈaɪdiəˌvaɪrəs/

Key Takeaways

  1. Ideavirus is a marketing concept by Seth Godin, highlighting the power of sharing ideas that spread like a virus through a target audience.
  2. It focuses on creating remarkable content, turning customers into advocates who voluntarily share and spread the idea or product because of its inherent value.
  3. The success of an Ideavirus relies on finding the right “sneezers” or influencers to amplify the message and on creating a strong “velocity” for the idea to reach critical mass and self-sustain its growth.


The term “Ideavirus” is important in the technology world because it encapsulates the concept of a contagious idea or innovation that spreads rapidly through various channels of communication, particularly digital and social media platforms.

Coined by marketing expert Seth Godin, the term highlights the transformative power of influential ideas in spurring change, shaping cultural values, and driving market trends.

By understanding the mechanics of ideaviruses, individuals, businesses, and organizations can strategically leverage their ideas’ virality potential, allowing them to optimize their marketing efforts, foster brand awareness, and ultimately, achieve better growth and success in today’s interconnected and fast-paced digital landscape.


Ideavirus, a term coined by marketing expert Seth Godin, is a modern approach to the concept of viral marketing and refers to the purposeful spreading of ideas, concepts, and messages through online communities and social networks. The ultimate goal of an ideavirus is to create a buzz around a product, service, or concept, ultimately driving engagement and conversion rates.

Much like a biological virus, an ideavirus spreads exponentially, taking advantage of the digital landscape’s interconnectedness to quickly reach vast audiences. By leveraging the power of influencers, online discussion forums, and engaging content, an ideavirus is intended to gain momentum and capture the attention of target audiences in a way that traditional advertising may not achieve.

Focusing on organic and shareable content, businesses and individuals use the ideavirus concept to convey their marketing message in more of an engaging story format. This narrative approach captures the audience’s attention, leading to higher engagement and shareability.

Ideaviruses thrive on their ability to spawn conversations, stimulate curiosity, and be emotionally provocative – attributes that inspire people not only to absorb the information, but also to share and disseminate it. The success of an ideavirus, therefore, relies heavily upon the collective behavior of its target audience, underscoring the importance of generating content that is both easily digestible and sharable – ultimately allowing the digital world to spread the ideavirus like wildfire.

Examples of Ideavirus

The term “Ideavirus” was coined by Seth Godin in his book Unleashing the Ideavirus. It refers to an idea or piece of content that spreads rapidly, like a virus, and helps promote a product, service, or brand. Here are three real-world examples of successful ideaviruses:

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: In the summer of 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on social media. It involved people dumping a bucket of ice water over their head and then nominating three friends to do the same. Participants also donated to the ALS Association, a non-profit organization that works to find treatments for Lou Gehrig’s disease. This Ideavirus was so effective that it raised $115 million in just eight weeks and significantly increased awareness about ALS.

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign: Launched in 2004, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign aimed at promoting self-esteem and challenging beauty standards by featuring real women of different shapes and sizes in their advertisements instead of professional models. This Ideavirus greatly benefited Dove’s brand image and increased sales, as more women could relate to the brand and its messaging. In 2013, Dove also released a video called “Real Beauty Sketches,” which went viral and solidified the campaign as an Ideavirus.

Old Spice’s The Man Your Man Could Smell Like: In 2010, Old Spice launched a unique marketing campaign featuring the now-famous tagline, “The man your man could smell like.” The initial ad featured former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa, who rapidly gained fame, and the Ideavirus spread quickly across the internet. The humorous, tongue-in-cheek approach of the videos resonated with viewers and led to a significant increase in Old Spice sales. Old Spice continued this campaign with several more ads starring Mustafa, as well as interactive responses to fans on social media.

FAQ: Ideavirus

1. What is an Ideavirus?

An Ideavirus is a term coined by marketing expert Seth Godin, referring to an idea that spreads rapidly through a population like a virus. It’s a form of marketing that relies on creating compelling ideas that move quickly among the target audience, sparking conversations and influencing them to act.

2. How does an Ideavirus work?

An Ideavirus works by tapping into people’s emotions, interests, and desires, creating a compelling narrative that people feel compelled to share with others. The idea then spreads within a community, like a virus, as more people talk about it, share it on social media, and discuss it with others.

3. What are the key elements of an Ideavirus?

The key elements of an Ideavirus include a strong central idea, an easily shareable format, a target audience, and effective amplifiers, such as influential people or platforms that help spread the message. By understanding these elements, marketers create an Ideavirus that captures attention and drives engagement.

4. What is the difference between traditional marketing and Ideavirus marketing?

Traditional marketing typically relies on mass advertising techniques, such as television commercials, print ads, and billboards, while Ideavirus marketing focuses on creating and distributing share-worthy content that naturally spreads through organic engagement and word of mouth. Ideavirus marketing often has a viral effect, resulting in a much wider reach than traditional marketing campaigns.

5. How can I create an Ideavirus for my business?

To create an Ideavirus for your business, start by identifying a unique idea that aligns with your brand values, resonates with your target audience, and has the potential for viral growth. Next, produce content that tells an engaging story around your idea and present it in an easily shareable format. Finally, collaborate with influencers or utilize social media platforms to amplify your message as it spreads among your target audience.

Related Technology Terms

  • Viral Marketing
  • Word-of-mouth Advertising
  • Network Effect
  • Content Sharing
  • Online Influence

Sources for More Information


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