Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Eighmey's Viral Sharing Index

Susan Boyle's performance on Britain's Got Talent has become a viral video phenomenon. It is by far the most viewed video this year.

As of today, the Viral Video Chart reports over 88 million views and 8,500 blog postings of this video.

Why have so many sought and shared this video? What conceptual lessons can be learned about public response to viral communication?

Clearly there is a reversal of expectations. An unknown person stands alone and vulnerable on the great stage. The audience takes her measure, and then she takes them away.

Therein lies the basis for sharing. People want others to have that same feeling of unexpected joy.

A combination of psychological responses underlies the desire to share. The figure below identifies six factors commonly associated with how we respond to what we see in media.

Susan Boyle's viral video exemplifies high performance on all six factors in my Viral Sharing Index.

For further reading, see my article "Profiling User Responses to Commercial Websites" published in the May-June, 1997 issue of the Journal of Advertising Research. It has been cited by 230 articles and books about Internet advertising and provides the conceptual basis for thinking about information distributed on the Internet, whether by websites or viral sharing.

Copyright © 2009 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

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