Share and share alike: How marketers can exploit infectious sharing behavior

March 8, 2012, Inderscience Publishers

In the world of marketing, people who are thinking about sharing product information they find in online advertising are likely to first consider whether the information is relevant to friends and family in their social networks.

The notion of a piece of information, a video clip, amusing photo or informative email going "viral" was initially a purely organic concept where every consumers and users shared such an item to the point where few people would remain unaware of its existence. However, marketing and advertising executives quickly recognized the potential and now, it seems, spend a great deal of time and effort attempting to emulate the exponential awareness of this organic sharing. As such, there is a substantial body of research into what makes a natural digital entity "go viral" and how that process might be exploited by business for commercial gain. The not-for-profit and even government sectors are also keen to find success in this area.

James Coyle of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and colleagues point out that the old-school marketing techniques are not quite as sharp as they once were. "The effectiveness of the 'create once, run everywhere' traditional marketing method is blunted by the expansion of media options that now include consumer-controlled media online and on ," they explain in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Electronic Marketing and Retailing.

The researchers suggest that there are ways in which business and others can readily tap into "word-of-mouth" marketing and the so-called web 2.0 world of and sharing. Unfortunately, the team suggests, the reasons why some viral campaigns succeed where others fail remain a mystery. To gain new insights into the nature of online virality, the team conducted surveys of two audience types: high-tech business-to-business users and people seeking consumer health information.

The team was able to assess the degree to which people in each group was willing to share a given marketing item as well as looking at how much those people shared in general on the internet and offline. They also asked questions to gauge the degree of caution individuals revealed in choosing what to share with scant knowledge about its source or the validity of the content. The team also determined how much information filtering the users undertook as well as measuring their personal involvement in the item being shared.

"In our study, in two very different product categories increased product involvement was a significant predictor in increased likelihood of sharing information from an online ad, " the team says. Similarly, they add, involvement was "how much an ad made participants think of others in their social network also contributed to higher intentions for sharing."

Explore further: Research findings may help online marketing campaigns achieve more success

More information: "Click here to share with a friend: a uses and gratifications approach to word-of-mouth marketing effectiveness" in Int. J. Electronic Marketing and Retailing, vol 4, 225-247

Related Stories

P&G marketing layoffs new sign of the times, expert says

February 1, 2012

Consumer goods giant Proctor & Gamble’s move to lay off some 1,600 employees globally, many in the marketing area, foretells a trend in which more companies will move their advertising dollars from traditional to digital ...

3Qs: Is mobile marketing a trend or just trendy?

May 18, 2011

Smart phone users are constantly on the move, and advertisers are increasingly trying to catch them along the way. Groupon, for instance, has now launched a service pitching deals to users based on their current location. ...

Online ads can get too close for comfort says new study

June 14, 2010

Trying to have an impact in the brave new world of web advertising? You could match an ad to a web page's content - such as putting a car ad on an auto consumer website. Or, you could make it stand out with eye-catching pop-up ...

Recommended for you

A statistical look at the probability of future major wars

February 22, 2018

Aaron Clauset, an assistant professor and computer scientist at the University of Colorado, has taken a calculating look at the likelihood of a major war breaking out in the near future. In an article published on the open ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.