Six tips on how to make your video content more shareable

Budweiser: successful Super Bowl spot
Budweiser: successful Super Bowl spot

What makes a video become a social video sensation and why do some online ads spread like wildfire across the web while others flounder, asks Phil Townend, MD EMEA Unruly.

In its new report, Unruly delves into the science behind video sharing. It offers advertisers insights into what kind of content is likely to attract more shares, which emotional triggers are most likely to resonate and which day of the week is best to launch your video campaign.

Here are six tips on how brands and agencies can make their video campaigns contagious:

1. Make it emotional

Anyone who’s seen a tear-jerking video get bounced back and forth between their friends knows that strong emotions matter. A sentimental score, a riveting story, or a bit of old-fashioned inspiration: all these often collide to make highly shareable, branded content (just watch Budweiser’s hugely successful "Brotherhood" spot from the last Super Bowl to see what we mean).

(Click image to enlarge)

Charting the strength of an emotional response to an ad’s content is central to Unruly’s methodology, using 18 triggers like ‘Awe’, ‘Disgust’ and ‘Arousal’ to pick the winners from the losers. Their findings? Some emotions are better than others.

Ads which evoke intense, positive emotions such as ‘Exhilaration’ are 3x more likely to get shared than those with elicit weak and negative responses. Thus producing a campaign which creates positive feelings like ‘Happiness’ and ‘Pride’ is your first step towards your own internet phenomenon.

It’s also worth considering layered emotional response as a kind of ‘plan B’ reaction. Three’s adorable ad was no one-trick pony, eliciting primarily ‘Hilarity’ but also ‘Warmth’ and ‘Happiness’, pushing it to over a million shares. Kmart’s Ship My Pants is the rare ad that succeeds despite sticking to a single emotional response, but this is a risky choice. If the trigger fails to deliver, then the content has nothing to fall back on.

2. You don’t have to be funny

You might be thinking that something’s missing - what about the jokes? While a lot of brands think a funny ad is the only way to drive shares, humour is a surprisingly fickle trigger. First of all, the bar is set very high. A comedic ad needs to be exceptionally funny and instantly memorable, or the content risks falling flat.

A comedic ad needs to be exceptionally funny and instantly memorable, or the content risks falling flat.

For example, funny ads are as much a part of the Super Bowl Sundays as touchdowns and popcorn, but this year’s social video hits - Budweiser’s ‘Brotherhood’ and Ram Trucks’ ‘Farmer’, showed a more serious side. Unruly’s recommendation? Take the road less travelled and avoid only producing funny ads. Your content will break away from the attention-seeking pack and be more memorable and shareable as a result.

3. Give them a reason to share

Humans are complex social beings, and have all sorts of reasons for sharing a video with their friends. Understanding these social motivations is key to tapping into the widest audience possible for your campaign.

An ad can have a killer concept and direction by Steven Spielberg, but if viewers have no reason to share, it won’t be big on the social web. Some popular social motivations include ‘social good’ (think Kony 2012), ‘social utility’ (which film should we watch tonight?) and ‘reaction seeking’ (like Kmart’s Ship My Pants).

4. Launch on a Wednesday

The first 72 hours of a video’s lifecycle are its most vital as this is where social signalling decides the scale of success. Unruly’s research finds that almost half of shares occur between Wednesday and Friday (below), making a midweek launch the best way to reach consumers before the weekend drop-off. So circle all the Wednesdays in your calendar and give your campaign the best possible start with a smart distribution plan which says "look at me!"

5. Get onboard

Social video is exploding. Peer-to-peer recommendation is an incredibly potent tool, accounting for 20-50% of all purchase decisions (Source: McKinsey). Unruly knows this first-hand, as the top 500 adverts attracted over 113m shares in 2012. The only answer is to jump straight in, focusing on your goals, paying attention to zeitgeist and surprising viewers.

6. Use as many platforms as possible (think outside YouTube and Facebook)

With more than 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute alone, if a brand merely uploads a video on the site and expects viewers to flock to it without any kind of promotion they are unlikely to gather many shares at all. With so much content being released, much of it will never be seen, let alone become a global hit. One of the main drivers of sharing success is the amount of ‘social signalling’ created around a video.

With so much content being released, much of it will never be seen, let alone become a global hit.

This requires brands to take a ‘sniper’ approach, reaching their target audience on hyper-targeted blogs and through influencers, coupled with a ‘shotgun’ approach, reaching a mass audience through mainstream platforms to show that "this video is important". The social signalling created by the big seed approach causes consumers to share content because it’s omnipresent, sometimes regardless of the quality of the content. Get the video out there across as many platforms as possible across owned, earned and paid media.

Don’t hide it on your YouTube and Facebook pages with your fingers crossed in hope rather than expectation.  

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