Forward - viraler i sociale netværk

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Jais Holm Christensen
  • Allan Dalkjær Johansen
4. term, Communication, Master (Master Programme)
In this thesis we investigate viral marketing as a phenomenon. We seek to understand why people willingly spread commercialized communication to peers within their social networks. Furthermore we examine how viral marketing spread exponentially through these networks. Spurred by an ambition to answer these questions, we set out to grasp the phenomenon of successful viral marketing. This thesis investigates the questions in the following thesis statement: What characterizes viral marketing as a means for communication and how does the viral content entice its receiver to pass it on? Which role do social networks and actors play in relation to the spreading of viral marketing? During our preliminary research, we found that this form of marketing was yet to be properly analyzed in order to convey a holistic perspective of its means and potentials as well as its drawbacks. The purpose of the thesis is therefore to gain a theoretical and empirically founded understanding of viral marketing and how it spreads through social networks. Furthermore, we underline the significance of giving the reader(s) an understanding of the means and appeals that this marketing tool utilizes in the process of motivating consumers to pass on viral commercials. In order to fully understand the area of viral marketing, we draw on theories from different areas. From our point of view, this should be understood in the context that a pure communication perspective does not constitute a thorough analysis. Thus, we illuminate different points of interest in terms of this research project by using theories of sociological, cultural, dramaturgical and semiotic character. Moreover, we apply relevant marketing strategies and theories from marketing practitioners, i.e. experts within the area of viral marketing. We do this to provide the reader(s) with an in-depth explanation of the phenomenon. Based on theoretical discussions, we emphasize that viral marketing being passed on between actors in social networks is highly effective in terms of reaching many people in an optimal way given. This should be seen on the premise that consumers identify with personal and social values in their social networks. We conclude that various social or professional networks differ in what their actor’s value, for what reason an understanding of segmentation is important when using viral marketing. Additionally, we find that a wide spread is better attained through people that you know fairly well (weak ties), rather than your close relations (strong ties), as new information is seldom introduced through close relations. Focusing on opinion leaders and diffusion of innovations, we found that diffusion of viral marketing happens via diverse people. In consequence, we stressed the fact that certain people have more connections than others and hence they are able to create wider diffusion than others. We also highlighted another type of network actor, who has influent powers. Therefore, they are able to persuade others due to the fact that they are more revered in their respective networks. In addition to network status and viral messages, we also found that forwarding messages unrestrained and without considering the potential social and personal values, which the receiver may attain, ultimately can result in the sender losing status concerning his/her social estimation. Consequently, we concluded that spamming is not an option if a person wants to increase his/her status in terms of estimation within a network. Grounded in our case analyses, we suggested that one of the main means of viral marketing is branding. The analyzed viral commercials appeal to specific lifestyle choices. In that regard, the way of communication mainly appealed to people’s dreams, wishes and hopes. As a consequence of that, viral commercials are easy to utilize when pursuing to portray a person’s self to others, which can be a reason for forwarding viral marketing. Through our analyses, our findings suggested that other incitements to forwarding include that the viral commercial is subject for discussion given the fact that the commercial is innovative and controversial. By staging an experience (or matter to discuss), the sender is supplying social 'currency'. This 'currency' can be used to “buy” social recognition in the eyes of the peers of the receivers as well as in the sender’s mind. Thus, by ensuring that the viral 'text' has some social values, the sender can facilitate further spreading of a viral ‘text’.
Publication date2008
Number of pages183
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet
ID: 14689952