People share videos of ads when doing so makes them look good, according to research by Harvard Business School assistant professor Thales S. Teixeira.
"People watch a lot of things online that they would never share with anyone," Teixeira tells Carmen Nobel.
After comparing the sharing behavior with the emotional responses and personality tests, Teixeira found that the main motivation for viral sharing was egocentricity—the viewer's desire to derive personal gain from sharing the video. In this case, the potential gain comes in the form of improving the viewer's reputation among friends and family, for example. Thus, it behooves advertisers to create videos that not only will make the product look good but, if shared, will make the viewer look good, too.That aligns with something Jeff Sonderman wrote for Poynter last year about why people share news: "A sharable story doesn’t have to be positive, it just has to be powerful," Sonderman wrote.
It has to create within the reader a deep, authentic human emotion — joy, fear, irony, disgust, wonder.Or narcissism, apparently. A New York Times marketing study of sharing identified several personality types predisposed toward sharing content, including what it called "Boomerangs": People who share stuff because it reflects well on them.