Miller, I. D. (2012). The Social Transmission of User-Generated Memes. (MA Thesis, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, CA). doi:1807/67214
The popular concept of viral media is like the flu: once unleashed, it naturally infects all your friends. This work suggests that viral impact may not be determined by the content alone but also by the content’s creator as part of the Viral Feedback Loop. Participants interacted with a type of online meme called an image macro which has historically been shared virally. Participants made their own User-Generated Content (UGC) with Memelab, an image macro builder written for this experiment. Participants then shared their UGC online, which was longitudinally monitored to create a behavioural measure of viral impact. When sharing with a friend, participants’ predictions of how much their UGC would be liked was positively associated with viral impact. Intent to Share was modelled as a function of image macro content features and participant responses, which was then modelled with an Agent-based computer simulation.