This research aimed to find out more about virality as a whole, the sharing motivations of social media users, and what this means for viral marketing. Current literature has not yet discussed virality in combination with sharing motivations and popular content in the current online environment. Most of the literature discussed either one aspect of virality and viral marketing, such as memes or influencer marketing, while a general idea of why and what people share was not yet discussed. This research wanted to explore this topic further in an inductive manner, based on the following research question: How do social media users decide on sharing content in relation to perceived branded viral content? A starting point was based on the literature surrounding WoM and eWoM, specifically as these topics are closely related to virality and viral marketing. This helped in structuring the research and developing questions for the focus groups. Focus groups were used to emphasize the social aspect of online sharing, as it was expected that the social setting of the focus groups would help to get more elaborate findings. The research found that the content of a message is less important than the motivations for sharing something. The interactions people have on social media are very similar to the ones they have offline, which means that the same cultural and societal rules matter. Participants of the focus groups made it clear how viral content helps them connect with other people and express themselves. Brands have to be careful with trying to involve themselves too much as this could lead to annoyance amongst the consumers. However, there are some ways in which brands can interact that will help them blend in in viral culture. The focus for brands should mostly lie on creating a good fit between the message they are sending out and the brand identity, and not trying to appeal too much to viral culture.

Additional Metadata
Keywords media, business, viral marketing, virality, online sharing, sharing motivations
Thesis Advisor J. Pridmore
Persistent URL
Series Media & Business
Q. Brouwer. (2019, February 10). “We already think of the marketing behind it.”. Media & Business. Retrieved from