Seeding Viral Content: The Role of Message and Network Factors

Yuping Liu-Thompkins

Old Dominion University

Management slant

  • A proper seeding strategy is critical to the success of a viral video.
  • The need for a "big-seed" strategy (i.e., using many consumers as initial targets) decreases as the quality of a viral message increases.
  • It is best to start a viral campaign with consumers who have a strong tie with the viral-message originator.
  • A moderately heterogeneous group of consumers with not too few (or too many) common interests can best increase the reach of a viral message and, therefore, is optimal for diffusion.
  • Somewhat counter-intuitively, this research finds that it is not ideal to use seed consumers with a large number of social connections, as such connections typically are weak and not sufficient to motivate the initial spreading of content.