The Effect of Socialization and Maven Characteristics on Viral Advertising

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The purpose of this article is to study the social aspects of viral advertising, including differences related to social influencers analyzed in the Consumer Socialization Theory, such as family, the tie strength element from the Social Network Theory, as well as maven characteristics. The study uses a survey distributed to a national consumer sample from the U.S., that is analyzed in a multivariate regression procedure. The analysis shows the importance of social factors for consumers’ viral intentions, integrating the socialization theory and market maven theory in the viral research. The results support a positive relationship between consumers’ socialization and communication related to advertising with their family and their viral intentions, showing that reference groups are important for viral advertising. This underlines the effect that the close interpersonal circle has on consumers’ involvement in viral communication. The statistical analysis also found a psychosocial characteristic, such as consumers’ market maven traits, to be positively related to viral intentions. Attitude toward the ad is also a significant influencer of viral intentions, as expected, showing that a positive impression about the ad is positively related to its viral potential. Overall, different social factors are found to be essential antecedents of viral ads, and future research can further focus on this topic, to create a social profile of consumers prone to participate in viral advertising.

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