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Viral marketing can be a cost-effective marketing tool to create awareness and reach many new customers. Viral marketing relies on word of mouth and leverages social networks of individuals to spread information. But, what is the optimal seeding strategy? Put differently: who should you target to initiate a viral marketing campaign?

Previous research suggests that companies should target well-connected individuals. These individuals have many friends, whose friends also have many friends. In this research we show that such seeding strategies are suboptimal. People with many connections receive more information and are therefore less likely to pay attention to a viral marketing campaign. Our empirical analysis shows that seeding viral marketing campaigns to individuals with many friends, who in turn have only few friends, can increase the reach of a viral marketing campaign by 70 percent.