In order for an idea to spread, someone has to do the spreading.
In the dark ages (ten years ago), the only way to spread your idea on a large scale was to do it yourself. Lots and lots of ads.
Today, marketers get all sweaty thinking about how this happens magically, virally, for free. If it were only that easy.
What's interesting to me is that different products and ideas are spread by different groups of people. There isn't just one professional association of idea spreaders, with everyone else being passive.
If your authentic little Welsh restaurant gets hot, it's going to be because the chowhounds, the folks who love to talk about the next great place, are buzzing about it. On the other hand, if your blog gets a lot of traffic, it might just be because a few of the digerati are going on about it, spreading the idea.
This is obvious, of course.
But what you are you doing about it? Have you figured out which portion of your user base are the talkers? Is it possible to focus your development efforts on actually making something that they like? Or, are you confusing the people who talk about your competition or about other industries with the people you need to reach? Might not be the same tribe…
The #1 cause of an idea that's not spreading or a business that's not growing is that they don't have a committed group of people spreading the word about them. If you treat everyone the same, you're not increasing the odds that some people will step up on your behalf.
This is the first question to ask someone who is frustrated at the rate their idea is spreading. "Who are you hoping will talk about you?" If you don't know, it's unlikely to happen all by itself. On the other hand, if a marketer is smart about finding, courting and delighting the group most likely to spread the idea, it's time well spent.