I’ve got some bad news. Sticking a baby or a cat in your video won’t automatically make it go viral.
However, the strategies you can adopt to make people want to watch and share your video are at your fingertips, and contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a big budget, celebrity endorsement or a bouncing baby to make it work.
This post will take you through the basics of creating shareworthy video content.
So what drives contagious content?
Tapping into human need
We all have innate wants and needs.
Identify the human needs and emotions your product fulfils or reinforces. For example, a jeweller could create content around gratitude. A kitchen table manufacturer could create content around the concept of family.
Remember the T-Mobile ‘Life’s for Sharing’ videos from five years ago? T-Mobile created a series of videos to reinforce the importance of capturing special moments and our need to be sharing positive experiences with others.
On the back of this, shop footfall increased by 16%. Online sales increased by 20%.
Keep it simple
What’s the most important message you want to communicate to your audience?
Don’t water down the value by filling your video with fluff. Don’t include lots of ideas. Don’t overwhelm your viewer. Just stick to one idea or emotion.
This GoPro video sticks to one concept: Jaw-dropping content that makes you want to get your own GoPro, grab your skis and head to the slopes.
Create social currency
Social currency means creating video that reinforces sharers as funny, clever, prestigious or helpful etc.
People share content to help drive others perceptions of them as funny, helpful, witty or as an in the know early adopter – there is always a rush to be the first so share some great content with the people that you feel it will interest as it buys you social credits.
This follow-up to the famous Pepsi Test Drive video makes great fuel for a water cooler conversation, cementing the viewer as current and cool.
You don’t even need to include celebrities. Research from Unruly, found that ‘despite many brands using celebrities for their adverts, only 13% of the most shared ads of all time (Top 100) feature stars’ (Social Video Report Q1 2014)
Triggers to thought processes
This refers to a product or brand that triggers our thought process, so we associate it with something else. This can be done naturally, for example, thoughts of battered fish will also evoke thoughts of chips. Or it could be achieved through smart advertising campaigns, such as Diet Coke being synonymous with a break at 11am (Diet Coke break).
Certain feelings can also be triggered by brands, for example, Cadbury’s Roses being associated with gratefulness.
The idea behind creating a video to trigger an emotion in the brain is so that these thoughts will be brought to the front of their mind and will influence behaviour.
So when you’re in a supermarket and looking for a thank you gift, Cadbury’s Roses may well pop into your head, as well as that annoying jingle.
Emotions must be planned for and impacted
Video that elicits certain strong feelings has a good chance of being shared.
This shocking video of American wealth distribution evoked strong feeling amongst viewers, encouraging them to share it among their peers. http://mashable.com/2013/05/15/viral-video-factors/
But not all content that inspires strong emotions is likely to be shared. It is emotionally active content that is more likely to be shared. Inspiring and hilarious content is more likely to be shared than content that just fills us with a warm glow. A video that makes us angry is more likely to be shared than a sad video.
This emotion wheel has been overlaid with the results of Fractl’s Anatomy of Viral Research.
Content that evokes anticipation, surprise, trust and joy are the most likely videos to be shared.
A word of warning: Be careful about trying to appear to be funny. Humour is subjective, so what you find hilarious could be seen as trying too hard.
When everyone is doing something, or talking about something, it’s human nature to want to get involved.
Public spirit videos refer to something that is in the public eye at the moment.
In 2012, T-Mobile released a spoof of the Royal Wedding. The fact that this was something in the news and a topic of conversation increased its share rate.
Is there anything trending that your brand could jump on-board with? Think about celebrity stories, sports scandals or news events that you can create content around.
Adding practical value to others lives
Two words: Life hacks. We all want to learn new ways of doing everyday tasks. That’s why ‘how-to’ videos are popular sharing choices.
Give a little of your secrets away and share how-to videos with your audience. In turn, these will be shared and your brand will be exposed to more people.
Jamie Oliver’s Food YouTube channel has over one million subscribers. Every time one of these useful tutorials is shared, he is reinforcing the power of his brand and establishing himself as a key influencer.
Big brands vs you
Don’t think that just because your marketing budget isn’t as big as Pepsi or Jamie Oliver’s, you can’t create content that people are passionate about sharing. Plenty of small and up and coming companies have created contagious content.
Wren Studio’s First Kiss video achieved over 82 million views in the first two months. The video was created to promote the LA clothing brand’s Fall 2014 collection.
The video was created for less than $1,300, demonstrating that you can produce shareable content on a budget.
The video doesn’t explicitly advertise clothing. But it does reinforce human need to want to connect with other humans in a positive way.
People wanted to share the video as it reflected their own values, whether that’s belief in the magic of a first kiss, or reinforcing non-judgmental beliefs.
Fact: Your video doesn’t have to be short to be shared.
By choosing to create a longer video, you have time to craft a story and build emotion in your viewer.
This seventeen-minute animation from Lego goes back to 1932 to show us why Lego was created and what the brand values are.
Stories can be told much more succinctly as well. This Honda Hands video is less than two minutes long, but still weaves a creative tale documenting their 65 years. The almost wordless approach means it can be shared across country, without losing meaning.
Of course, not all principles have to be covered in every video. But next time you’re planning your video content; bear these points in mind to give your video the best chance of viral success.