Christian Science Monitor has long provided a counterpoint to mainstream media’s “If it bleeds, it leads” approach to providing shocking, scandalous, depressing, or scary news.
Wharton’s Jonah Berger and Katharine Milkman found that the Christian Science Monitor might have a savvy business model: they found that good news spreads more widely than bad.
Members of the Word of Mouth Marketing Organization: Take note…
Berger and Milkman evaluated a random sample of 3,000 of more than 7,500 articles published in the New York Times online from August 2008 to February 2009.
They judged each article’s “popularity” based on number of times it was forwarded to others, after controlling for online publication time, section, and degree of promotion on the home page.
Independent readers rated each article for practical value or surprise, and ratio of positive vs negative emotion words in each news item.
Most-forwarded posts were positive, funny, exciting and featuring intellectually challenging topics, like science, that “inspire awe” (“admiration and elevation in the face of something greater than the self”).
Readers shared articles that typically provoke negative emotions like anger and anxiety, but not sadness.
-*Why this bias against sending “downer” messages?
Michigan’s Emily Falk, with UCLA colleagues Sylvia Morelli, B. Locke Welborn, Karl Dambacher,and Matthew Lieberman found that people consider what appeals to others, possibly as a means of building relationships, indicated by increased activation in brain regions (temporoparietal junction, or TPJ and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex) associated with “social cognition,” or thoughts about other people, measured by fMRI.
When those regions were activated, people were more likely to talk about the idea with enthusiasm, and the idea would spread by word-of-mouth.
Falk noted that the team mapped brain regions “associated with ideas that are likely to be contagious and are associated with being a good ‘idea salesperson.’”
She plans to use these brain maps “to forecast what ideas are likely to be successful and who is likely to be effective at spreading them.”
People also like to spread good news about themselves.
Diana Tamir and Jason Mitchell, then of Harvard, illustrated that brain regions associated with reward (mesolimbic dopamine system, including the nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area) are activated when people share information about themselves.
Self-disclosure is so pleasurable that people will sacrifice monetary rewards for this opportunity.
In fact, Rutgers’ Mor Naaman with Jeffrey Boase, now at Ryerson University and Chih-Hui Lai, now of University of Akron found that 80 percent of Twitter users tweet primarily about themselves.
One reason may be that people say more positive things when they’re talking to a bigger audience, like Twitter followers, according to Berger’s research suggests. As a result, social media users are likely to convey positive information about themselves.
However, this positive self-presentation may not result in a positive mood if communicators spend longer on social media platforms like Facebook.
Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge of Utah Valley University found that those with longer visits to Facebook say they are less happy than their Facebook Friends.
They found that Facebook users tend to form biased judgment based on easily-recalled examples (availability heuristic) and erroneously attribute positive Facebook content to others’ personality, rather than situational factors (correspondence bias), especially for those they do not know personally.
Corroborated by Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin’s Hanna Krasnova and her team from Technische Universität Darmstadt, these researchers observed “invidious emotions” and “envy” among people who spend longer time on Facebook.
These findings have relevance to members of the Word of Mouth Marketing Organization: Spread the good word – or at least the emotional word – and spend less time on Facebook and other social media that might invite social comparison and the potential for envious dissatisfaction.
-*How you build “buzz” via “Word of Mouth”?
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