In 2007 I wrote a post titled, Stop Saying The Word ‘Viral’, (“Seriously, just stop. It’s not hip; it just makes you sound antiquated. This is not the 90′s. It’s over. Deal with it.”) Last year I co-authored a presentation titled, The Ugly Truth About Viral Marketing (“Stop trying to spread viruses. In fact, go wash your hands right now.”) But comic as my crusade against the word may be, it belies a deep-seated distaste for a certain type of attitude that runs rampant among marketers: a penchant for referring to content as “viral” simply by virtue of it being on the internet at all, an inability to comprehend the fact that just because they make it share-able does not mean it will be shared, and a general arrogant disregard for the underlying mechanics of human behavior that drive sharing.
So you can imagine my joy when I discovered The New York Times Consumer Insight Group, in association with Latitude Research, had published the results of a study on The Psychology of Sharing. As the New York Times Insights Group writes:
There has been an abundance of research on social media, but to date, no one has asked in a comprehensive way: why do people share? The Psychology of Sharing reveals groundbreaking research that fills this knowledge gap.
So stick this in your “we have to make it go viral” pipe and smoke it:
Download The Psychology of Sharing study here.