My Topics

6 May 2012

Viral Social Media Campaigns Most Effective When Forwarded by Close Friends

Keywords: games, marketing, viral, Western Europe, advergames, computer, experiment, internet, young adults,

The strength of online friendships determines the power of viral social media campaigns, according to a study in Tijdschrift voor Communicatiewetenschap. SNS users are more positive about campaigns when received from close friends, than when received from people they have no connection with. They are also more inclined to forward campaigns they received from close friends to others.

Take aways

  • Viral social media campaigns are most effective when the sender and receiver of the campaign are close friends.
  • The reason for this is that campaigns that are forwarded by close friends are perceived as being less commercial.
  • So, to increase the effectiveness of a viral social media campaign, advertisers should encourage social media users to forward the campaign to their closest online friends.

Study information

  • The question?

    Does the strength of online friendships affect the persuasive power of a viral social networking site (SNS) campaign?

  • Who?

    51 young adults (mean age: 24 years; 47% men, 53% women).

  • Where?

    The Netherlands.

  • How?

    A viral campaign for a popular entertainment brand was distributed among members of the Dutch social networking site Hyves. The campaign included a game of roulette in which players could insert photos of their online friends in order to win a night out with them. After participating in the campaign, participants were asked about their friendship with the sender of the campaign, their attitudes toward the campaign and the advertised brand and their intention to forward the campaign to their network.

Facts and findings

  • Social media users who received the viral marketing campaign from a close friend had more positive attitudes toward the campaign and the advertised brand and were more inclined to forward the campaign to others.
  • The reason for this is that viral social media campaigns forwarded by close friends are seen as less commercial, which means that the campaign is perceived less as a persuasive attempt by the advertiser.