A new study reveals that social content receives additional positive votes when conversations are started by one positive response.

The key to reaching new audiences with social content may be loyalty, according to a report on the social influence bias by Lev Muchnik, Sinan Aral and Sean J. Taylor. The experiment, published in The American Association for the Advancement of Science, revealed social media posts that earn initial positive votes have a 32 percent higher likelihood of receiving additional favorable responses from followers.

Based on these findings, marketers may need to foster a loyal following that will provide immediate positive feedback in order to improve brand sentiment and increase engagement with a wider audience.

This ‘herding effect’ ultimately inspires social media users to provide 25 percent more positive ratings for shared content. Posts that first received negative responses did not see the same results. While some social media participants sought to correct negative votes they perceived to be incorrect, the conversation was unlikely to sway toward an influx of affirmative replies.

As data reveals the key to social media virality, brands will need to adjust their content marketing strategies accordingly. Brafton recently reported that marketers rely on social networks to drive results on the web. Fifty-one percent say custom content shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like are the most effective vessels for their internet marketing. It’s crucial marketers build a following comprised of fans and loyal customers who will give the feedback to fuel further positive sharing.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.