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Virality as a paradigm of digital communication. Review of the concept and update of the theoretical framework

Abstract: Viral communication has experienced noticeable changes since its first definition by Rushkoff in 1994. Some changes have been of such a nature that they have rendered the notions employed at the end of the last century and at the start of the 21st century obsolete. This present article tries to update and synthesize the concept of virality as the backbone of the current forms of communication and, especially, those that are born and triggered in social networks. For this we will use a classic bibliographic review methodology, which will try to investigate the background, the elements and the foundations of the concept. As a result of this revision, we will extract a new concept of viral communication, as a form of integration between the media and their messages or, also, as a form of global hybridization. In this context, the article will try to establish the theoretical foundations of virality as a paradigm of digital and connected communication. Personal communication, originally developed from leader theory and personal influence starting with contacts in close proximity (word-of-mouth), is redefined by the Internet and by the application of marketing (which has developed it under the name of permission or relational). With its rapid expansion in the early 1990s, the phenomenon of personal influence took on a new dimension. This happened mainly because the Internet is essentially a decentralized structure, where the nodes and points of influence are crucial for the flow of information. So we must think of network-based communication as a collaborative process. These forms of communication stand out for requiring personal information and allowing segmentation of the public and personalization of communication related actions.

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