Groundbreaking study identifies how a process called ‘mentalizing’ can help predict which messages go viral on social media


<Sept. 17, 2013>

Small business marketing expert Rhondalynn Korolak explains how a recent scientific discovery which proves which brain regions are associated with the spread of ideas, can help advertisers and media executives to design ads that have more potential to go viral.

The number of social network users around the world will rise from 1.47 billion in 2012 to 1.73 billion by the end of 2013, a reach of nearly one in four people and an increase of 18%. By 2017, this number will total 2.55 billion (1). Social media is now the number 1 activity on the web with 300 million pictures uploaded to Facebook every day (2) and an astonishing 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute (3).

For the very first time, businesses can now successfully capitalize on these staggering numbers by predicting which messages may go viral on social media with the help of a research study carried out by UCLA psychologists Matthew Lieberman and Emily Faulk. They have identified the brain regions associated with the successful spread of ideas, or viral “buzz,” a scientific first.

Rhondalynn Korolak, author of the critically acclaimed book Sales Seduction which explains why neuroscience has an impact on how you create, buy, sell, and experience everything, commented on the study, “The positive implications of this research for marketing executives and advertisers is substantial. Significant company resources are allocated to the production and launch of TV, video and social media campaigns every year but so many fail to produce a return on investment. Being able to predict which messages may go viral has major implications for brands, allowing them to successfully tap into the enormous global social media audience”.

The study titled “Creating Buzz: The Neural Correlates of Effective Message Propagation” mapped the brain centers associated with ideas that are likely to be contagious and in the future these brain maps could be used to forecast which ideas should be successful and who is likely to be effective at spreading them. The scientists found that increased activity in the Temporoparietal Junction or TPJ, part of the brains “mentalizing network”, was associated with an increased ability to convince others to get on board with their favorite ideas. The network also includes the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, located in the middle of the brain.

Korolak goes on to say that “With billions of video views, likes and comments at stake for brands the rewards are invaluable when campaigns are successful. The potential scale of online video can be seen with the International smash hit Gangnam Style amassing over 1.73 billion views from July 2012 to July of this year (4) and Samsung’s Galaxy S III campaign ‘The next big thing is already here’, generating over 71.8 million views just 3 months after its launch. Thanks to this new brain research, being able to understand how ideas spread will help marketers to address questions about what makes videos and campaigns such as these successful, who is likely to be effective at spreading them and how their impact can be improved”.

Korolak’s book Sales Seduction explains how to use the latest insights from brain science to create more impactful branding, marketing campaigns, sales presentations and promotions. The simple, step-by-step processes helps brands to captivate attention, accelerate the sales process, trigger decisions and close more business.

Sources: The study findings are published in the online edition of the journal Psychological Science, with print publication to follow later this summer. (1) eMarketer Report: Worldwide Social Network Use (2) Business Insider: Facebook Stats (3) YouTube: YouTube Stats (4) Wikipedia: Gangnam Style Stats (5) PC Mag: Samsung Stats

About Rhondalynn Korolak

Korolak is a Melbourne-based lawyer, chartered accountant, business coach, speaker, best-selling author and small business marketing expert. She has been featured in/on Yahoo, CNN ireport, Skynews, 3AW, Channel 9, Kochie’s Business Builders, bNet, Fast Thinking, MYOB, Dynamic Business, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire. Her recent books also include Financial Foreplay® and On The Shoulders of Giants.

To book her for an interview or find out more, contact her at:

61 404 907 768 (in Australia)