Viral Video Ads: Emotional Triggers and Social Media Virality

Psychology and  Marketing

Abstract: Previous studies have found that emotional arousal and emotional valence are important for video ads to be shared. As marketers are exploring new strategies to increase their viral effectiveness in social media, there is a need to provide guidelines on how to elicit emotional engagement that can trigger advertising virality. Drawing on recent findings on the behavioral effects of discrete positive emotions, this research examines how specific positive emotions may influence viral sharing. An online experiment was conducted with millennial participants, employing real viral video ads, in order to observe the viral effects of two positive emotions, awe and affection. Awe and affection emotions experienced in relation to online ads may prompt viral sharing  by activating specific types of sharing expressions that relate to expressing emotional connection and emotional generosity in social media. Managerial implications for applying positive emotions as triggers to the content of video ads in order to elicit virality in social media are included.

Karen Whitehill King 

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