Viral Video: Every Marketer’s Dream (Via Harvard Business Review)

Last updated: 
December 23, 2020

In “Puppyhood,” a video for Purina Puppy Chow produced with BuzzFeed, a guy spontaneously adopts a puppy, and they bond in typical roommate fashion. A viral video is every marketer’s dream. It’s the surest way to cut through the noise of the internet. And studies show that social viewers—people who watch shared content rather than videos they’ve found by browsing—are far more likely to buy a product and recommend it to others.

Why do some videos catch fire and others just sputter out?

Unruly, a marketing technology company, offers an answer. Its analysis of some 430 billion video views and 100,000 consumer data points reveals the two most powerful drivers of viral success: psychological response (how the content makes you feel) and social motivation (why you want to share it).

The greater the intensity of feeling the content evokes, the more likely people are to share it—the web’s answer to word of mouth, the most effective form of advertising.

Here we explore what makes content sharable, using Unruly’s analysis of Purina’s “Puppyhood” video, which racked up five million views in the six weeks after its May launch. We also note Unruly’s findings that a minority of people are responsible for the vast majority of sharing and that most sharing occurs soon after a video’s debut.

Why People Share

Social Motivation

Unruly has identified 10 motivations for social sharing. The best videos elicit a broad range of motivations. Take a look at the social motivations that “Puppyhood” viewers reported. Opinion seeking was a big one, but three-quarters of viewers found other good reasons to share it.

Emotional Response

Most people think humor drives sharing, but it’s a hard response to nail and it’s also culturally sensitive. Companies should try to evoke multiple positive reposes to make sure that the content resonates—again, the more intense the reaction, the better.

Super Sharers Move The Needle

Nearly 18% of internet users share videos at least once a week—and almost 9% share daily. Companies should find ways to reach these “super sharers,” who are responsible for more than four-fifths of total shares.

Timing Counts

The more shares a video generates during the first two days after launch, the higher the viral peak and the greater the overall volume of shares. Marketers should consider front-loading campaigns to maximize visibility during this window.The launch day also makes a difference: Most sharing activity happens on Wednesday (the optimal day), Thursday, and Friday.

Credit: Harvard Business Review

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