Successful brands know that effective viral video campaigns harness two components: the emotional power of video and targeted interactivity of the internet.
If brand videos are going to make a huge splash online, they need to be shared by millions of viewers. But how can brands get their videos shared? It’s all about sharability and the ability to engage the viewer. Marketers need to distribute meaningful videos that interest and motivate their audience to want to share what they’ve seen. Word of mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising and people love to have something to talk about. People love seeing something new or trendy, then sharing it with others. To be widely shared, videos need to be real, believable, and memorable — or even notorious, if it is done correctly.
The Science of Shareability
Guaranteed shareable content requires creative thinking. Cultivate an out-of-the-box mentality designed to upstage the competition. Marketers must know their target audience intimately, something that requires thorough research and data mining. Know the audience almost better than they know themselves.
It’s all about resonating with a viewer’s beliefs and passions, says Michael Baliber, senior vice president and director of digital media strategy at IPG Media Agency. It’s about knowing when to strike at the heart strings and when to pull back.
“Online video can be much more engaging than other digital media. Ensure that the ad’s creative connects with viewers on an emotional level — instilling laughter, tears, or sentimentality — to increase its shareability profile,” Baliber explains. “Think outside the social media box. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are proven boons on shareability, but consider sharing video on other social media. Think creatively. If the brand is making a business-to- business play, consider sharing it on LinkedIn. If it’s more long-form, push it out over Vimeo’s art-friendly platform. Even Pinterest allows marketers to share online video across its platform.”
Attach a brand’s online video to editorial content, Baliber recommends. Native advertising has proven effective when it complements the right type of editorial. This adds credibility to an ad or video.
Seven Tips for Viral Sharing
According to New York City-based Unruly Media, there are over 100 viral variables that go into shareability. Unruly Labs helps brands understand, measure, and increase ROI of their online video ad campaigns. When it comes to online commercials, two of the most important drivers are psychological responses to an ad and the social motivations to share it, says Unruly Labs. An extremely funny ad has a high chance of being shared, but it must be extremely funny. This is where restraint and extensive audience research comes in.
Follow these seven steps to ensure social video success, recommends Richard Kozinski, U.S. president with Unruly:
1. Make it emotional
Creating highly shareable content is all about eliciting the strongest possible emotional responses from an audience. Videos that elicit strong emotions are twice as likely to be shared.
2. Be positive
Videos that draw a strong, positive emotional response are 30 percent more likely to be shared than those that elicit strong negative emotions. Strong negative emotions, such as anger or shock, can prompt viewers to share, but are tough to get right. Marketers risks alienating consumers with the wrong message. It is a safer bet to focus on positive emotions.
3. Forget cute cats and celebs — focus on personal triumphs and the weather
It’s a myth that all one needs to do to make a video go viral is stick a cute cat in it. Such creative devices are useless if the video does not elicit strong emotions from the audience. There are, however, some creative devices that are highly likely to attract large amounts of sharing and are underused by marketers.
One is personal triumph, used by ads such as P&G’s “Best Job” from the 2012 Olympics. A safer bet is science, weather, or nature-orientated videos. If there is such a thing as a sure-fire approach to viral marketing these would come the closest.
4. Using poorly branded advertising is like throwing away the marketing budget
There is no relationship between how much sharing a video achieves and the level of branding used. Overt branding doesn’t make a video less emotionally impactful. Marketers need to realize that the average social video has only one-third the branding of the average TV commercial.
5. Exhilaration can make a lasting impression
Eliciting a strong, positive emotional reaction not only gives a video campaign additional reach, but also helps the audience remember the brand. Exhilaration is the most successful positive emotion to help branding recall, with hilarity second.
6. Don’t underinvest in distribution and over-invest in creative
It’s all well to be the best violinist in the world, but if one is playing in the bathroom no one else will hear the music. The same goes for creating videos. Even the most shareable video in the world won’t go viral without good content distribution and promotion. A video campaign needs to be seeded across a variety of platforms. This makes it easier to deliver good sharing metrics over a shorter period of time.
7. Quality reach is key
Reach is important, but quality achieves maintenance and growth. There’s no point in only placing videos on Facebook or Twitter accounts. These viewers have already been converted.Build a brand’s market share by reaching out to light and medium buyers outside of owned social media channels.
Getting brand videos shared is a skill, and effective sharing requires insight into the target audience, along with creativity and a basic understanding of what motivates people to share. Choose appropriate platforms and a smart distribution strategy to guarantee viewership and stimulate pass-along.