Virality: What Gets Shared and Why

Jonah Berger, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Katy Milkman, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, USA
What makes things more viral? Interpersonal transmission plays an important role in social influence and social epidemics, but why are certain things more likely to be passed-on than others? Using six months of data on New York Times articles, we investigate characteristics that make content more likely to be shared. In contrast to theories driven by economic value, we show that characteristics linked to social bonding also drive transmission. Even controlling for the amount of relevance and advice, content which is more emotional or surprising, has a greater propensity to make the most emailed list.
[ to cite ]:
Jonah Berger and Katy Milkman (2010) ,"Virality: What Gets Shared and Why", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 118-121 .