Research findings may help online marketing campaigns achieve more success

Jan 22, 2010
Altruistic, yet image-conscious Internet users tend to share more online content, causing messages to go viral, says Melanie Dempsey, a professor at the Ted Rogers School of Business Management, and co-author of a study published on viral marketing.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Why do some online ad campaigns go viral while other online marketing messages gather "cyber-dust" on the information superhighway? The key may lie in the motivation of Internet users to email that content to their social network, say researchers from Ryerson University and Simon Fraser University.

"As more advertising dollars are shifted to viral marketing campaigns, little is known about the factors that contribute to their success, or the who voluntarily pass along this content," says Melanie Dempsey, an assistant professor of marketing in the Ted Rogers School of Business Management.

Dempsey has co-authored a study on viral marketing with Jason Ho of Simon Fraser University. Their paper, Viral Marketing: Motivations to Forward Online Content, has been published online in the Journal of Business Research.

The researchers' goal was to gain insight on the factors that prompted Internet users to forward online content to their friends and family. They studied what they call 'e-mavens', people who spend a lot of time online, know intuitively what the next big idea is and spread marketplace information via electronic platforms, such as email. They asked 582 e-mavens, who are undergraduate students at a major university in Toronto, to fill out an about their motivations for forwarding content, how often they share information electronically and how much time they spend on online activities (such as watching videos).

Dempsey and Ho identified four potential motivations that may guide an e-maven's behaviour. First, the need to be part of a group. Second, the need to be individualistic and stand out from a crowd. Third, the need to be altruistic and fourth, the need for personal growth.

The researchers discovered that Internet users who are more altruistic and/or more individualistic, tend to share more online content than others.

"While e-mavens want to help someone by forwarding online content that may interest them, at the same time, they want to be recognized as an expert," says Dempsey. "So although e-mavens carefully choose what will be forwarded, they are also trying to manage their self-image. E-mavens want to be unique."

The researchers also found that participants who spend more time online tend to share more information with others in their social network. Spending more time surfing the Web also may allow individuals to feel a sense of inclusion.

All of these results, according to Dempsey, may help campaigns achieve more success.

"Given the amount of clutter on the Internet, marketers must be able to cut through that chatter and give the e-mavens a reason to share a marketing message with their social network. If they can appeal to the altruistic nature of these Internet users and boost their image online, a will have a better chance of going viral."

Explore further: Fear of losing money, not spending habits, affects investor risk tolerance, study finds

Provided by Ryerson University

4 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Online Shopping Habits Studied

Dec 07, 2006

Millions of holiday shoppers are bypassing traditional brick and mortar stores by instead purchasing the newest gadgets, big ticket items and toys with simple clicks of the mouse. Earlier this year, academic researchers published ...

The Web: Math reshapes online marketing

May 17, 2006

A significant shift is under way in online marketing -- one that is finally enabling major brand advertisers to more accurately measure the value of their Internet traffic, and even cleverly customize content for specific ...

Study takes a look at social networking sites

Jan 05, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Online social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are now firmly implanted in the cultural mainstream. Yet in spite of their popularity - Facebook currently has 300 million ...

Recommended for you

F1000Research brings static research figures to life

17 hours ago

F1000Research today published new research from Bjorn Brembs, professor of neurogenetics at the Institute of Zoology, Universitaet Regensburg, in Germany, with a proof-of-concept figure allowing readers and reviewers to run ...

How science can beat the flawed metric that rules it

19 hours ago

In order to improve something, we need to be able to measure its quality. This is true in public policy, in commercial industries, and also in science. Like other fields, science has a growing need for quantitative ...

User comments : 0