Valuable Virality

E. Akpinar, Jonah Berger

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Given recent interest in social media, many brands now create content that they hope consumers will view and share with peers. While some campaigns indeed go “viral,” their value to the brand is limited if they do not boost brand evaluation or increase purchase. Consequently, a key question is how to create valuable virality, or content that is not only shared but also beneficial to the brand. Share data from hundreds of real online ads, as well as controlled laboratory experiments, demonstrate that compared with informative appeals (which focus on product features), emotional appeals (which use drama, mood, music, and other emotion-eliciting strategies) are more likely to be shared. Informative appeals, in contrast, boost brand evaluations and purchase because the brand is an integral part of the ad content. By combining the benefits of both approaches, emotional brand-integral ads boost sharing while also bolstering brand-related outcomes. The authors’ framework sheds light on how companies can generate valuable virality and the mechanisms underlying these effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-330
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


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