Understanding online message dissemination: An analysis of Send-this-story-to-your-friend data

Sandeep Krishnamurthy


Our goal in this paper was to analyze "send-this-story-to-a-friend" data. Encouraging consumers to send stories to friends is an application of viral marketing which envisions message dissemination through customer-to-customer communication rather than firm-to-customer communication. It makes sense for a publisher to include this feature since individuals are more likely to accept the recommendations of their friends and this may increase theit probability of reading the story by making it more salient. We collected publicly available data from ESPN.com over an 11-day period. Using this data, our findings are: first, the number of times stories are sent out represent a miniscule proportion of visits to the site; second, if the top story is very influential, it may increase the total visits to the site and there may be spillover effect; third, there is an interesting weekend effect with a drop in the number of stories sent out; and, finally we observe an interesting floor effect when we analyze the ratio of the top and bottom stories.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v6i5.856

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