Veiled Viral Marketing:Disseminating Information on Stigmatized Illnessesvia Social Networking SitesDerek L. HansenBrigham Young Universitydlhansen@byu.edu or @shakmattChristianne JohnsonOgilvy Public Relations Worldwidechristianne.firstname.lastname@example.org
What about Stigmatized Illnesses?
The Role of Online Anonymity Anonymous Notification Services Semi-Anonymous ForumsAnonymity also opens the door for sexual predators, trolls, and deviant behavior
Veiled Viral Marketing Sender ? Veil of Anonymity … … … Trusted Connection Receiver … … … Message ? Plausible DeniabilitySocially Bounded Anonymity “One of your friends who wishes to remain anonymous…”
Unveiled or Veiled Invites?
Unveiled (Facebook) Invite
Veiled (Email) Invite
Field Trial Recruitment Methods• Facebook Ad for women age 13-25 in U.S.***• University of Maryland, Michigan, & Michigan State • Fliers & emails to large courses in iSchool, Public Health, Business School, and Journalism ** • Posters in student union and health center of UMD * • Add in UMD student newspaper *• Health Advocacy Groups *
Study Participants• 1,022 people downloaded application• 90% women• Median age = 20• 40% Single, 34% In a Relationship, 25% Married• 16% actively looking for Dating or A Relationship• From 44 states & some international (NY, DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, & Michigan had most)
Invitations Accepted High Acceptance Rate (even via email) suggests potential of Veiled Viral Marketing
Summary• Veiled Viral Marketing = “trusted” source + veil of anonymity• Fact Check: HPV showed that some users have interest in sending veiled invitations and those who receive them have a relatively high acceptance rate
Potential Problems & Solutions• SPAM (due to indiscriminant friending) • Allow people to turn off veiled messages• Invitees can decipher veiled inviter • Careful checks • Require invitations to multiple people• Increased stress for feeling singled out • Require invitations to multiple people & tell invitee • Link to reputable sites that are targeted toward wide audience• Possibility of inappropriate messages from “friends” • Only allow pointers to authoritative content, not personal messages
Future Work• Cleaner implementation• Understand WHY there is a high acceptance rate via user studies, interviews, and focus groups• Try in other domains (e.g., mental health)• Implementation in directed social networks (e.g., Twitter)
Questions?Derek L. HansenBrigham Young Universitydlhansen@byu.eduTwitter: @shakmatt