Video sharing is a great way to grow brand awareness. Barney Worfolk Smith of Unruly Media talks us through the 6 ways you can encourage video shares.

“I used to stand up here and explain what our company does, but since we’re a video company, our marketing and design department are very proud of the new video that they’ve created, which explains.

It explains what we do actually, but also rather helpfully shows you some of the type of videos our company spends its time distributing. It will give you a flavor into the area which we tend to play most of our time, which is B2C. What this chart is about is, put simply, the way in which video sharing has grown.

As you can see, it’s an exponential curve in 2012 when this chart refers back to. You’re looking at 18 million shares of the top three pieces of content in that year as measured by our viral video chart, compared to if we look back at ground zero for really just predating YouTube of 1.6 million shares being the number of top three videos shared in that year.

People hear me sometimes talk about Zuckerberg’s Law, which if any of you guys are into tech mirrors Moore’s Law, that the speed of computing will double each year. Zuckerberg’s Law holds that the amount of sharing of content will double each year, and that’s pretty much holding true for the last three or four years. And it’s not just cats, dogs on skateboards, etc. this is brands, that are gaining enormous amounts of earned media for this.

Anyway. A lot of what we do is offer insight into precisely what makes shareable content and if you have a thing called the viral video chart, as we have done since 2006. People instinctively want to be at the top that. Brands are keen to be at the top of that. For a long time we offered conjectural advice about what makes good content.

If you spend a day looking at video content you become quite adept at understanding what will work and what doesn’t, however there’s an awful lot of people in East London with beards and spectacles and checked shirts who’ve got an opinion about what makes good viral content. And the founders of our company, being academics themselves, are very keen for us to be able to deliver advice that was rooted in empirical research. So rather than me saying, I think that content is shareable, we think it’s not, the data says, based on empirical research, this is shareable or not.

This is the book (Viral Marketing The Science of Sharing) written by our academic partner, Dr. Karen Nelson-Field, who is based at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of Marketing Science in South Australia. If you’re interested in this it’s available on Amazon, it’s about 20 quid or something. It will take you an hour to get through it. It’s really interesting because Karen is actually an ex-marketeer. She used to be a marketeer for Diageo in Asia Pacific so it’s written in quite an interesting way. It’s very accessible for marketeers and it’s not too heavy an academic piece of work. Rather than me talking about that in a broad brush sense, we draw from this some key things, which we advise clients about when actually generating content, when they seek virality within that content.

So, number one, and as Gareth was saying, some of this might seem desperately obvious, but this is routed in stats, which gives it hopefully, inherently, more gravitas. So, number one, make it emotional. Specifically in that sense, videos which are emotional, highly emotional, be it either in a positive or negative way are twice as likely to be shared and here you can see for example, you may or may not spend much time looking at viral content on the web in this particular corner of marketing, but this was a Proctor and Gamble advert for the Olympics in 2012.

There’s been a recent remix of this, for the Winter Olympics showing some children trying really hard at skiing and then you see them go through their life and their mom is helping them and then they win at the Olympics and it’s a fabulous, beautiful thing and they hug and everyone cries and it’s deeply emotive, and as a result this video, during the Olympics, was the most shared video of that period and highly emotive.

I’ve mentioned positive and negative emotions can drive sharing, but for brands that we speak to it’s not always necessarily a good thing for your content to be shared with someone on Facebook going, “Oh my God look at this awful thing.” With negative emotions, such as disgust, sadness, shock, and anger you can imagine that, yes it’s applicable for perhaps a governmental organizations, charities, the classic 80’s horror film ‘Carrie’ has recently been remade and that had a viral video, which was genuinely hairs on the back of the neck shocking, but if you are reviewing a brand, let’s say for example a technology brand or sportswear, whatever it might be, going for these type of negative emotions, it’s probably wiser not to.

Next, cute cats and celebrities, which to the layman when they think about viral videos that’s what they always think of. The creative device, sorry this is a relatively technical term within the book. What the creative device means is it’s the thing in the video. A cat or dog or baby or celebrity or whatever else it might be. Statistically from the 1,900 videos which were studied in this book not one of those things statistically registered as more shareable than the other.

We’ve seen a lot of adverts with cats and Evian roller babies and the like, and we felt it was quite important in exploding that myth. Stuff that actually really counted and shifted the dial of whether people would share something or not was the actual emotions themselves. Apart from personal triumph, which was really interesting, and I suppose this is where we kind of stop, because after that you’re going into psychology, I suppose. But, personal triumph always seems to share very well and lots of brands have begun to find their way to this through testing.

For example Diageo, Nike, bizarrely a couple of other booze brands as well. The other interesting thing about personal triumph is that of all the various research and study that we do they tend to be focused by country, because, as you can imagine, what’s funny in France isn’t necessarily funny in China, but personal triumph cuts through that and works on an international basis, which is probably why a lot of brands have found their way there.

Be proud of your brand. I found this the most interesting and compelling thing from the book. The average TV advert of 30 seconds, since the 70’s, there’s an awful lot of research and it’s very well documented about how many times a brand can visually or verbally be referenced in 30 seconds. Social video, as we call it, rather than viral video, social video has been around for let say since 2006 and it’s almost as if it’s being delivered apologetically by brands. It could be an amazing piece of content, but at the end, they’re like ooh sorry. That was brand X.

The reality of the situation is a lot of brands are missing the opportunity to insert their brand into that more, because at the end of the day this is a marketing channel. It’s not just about titillation, it’s about altering people’s perceptions or ultimately right down the sales funnel of making them buy stuff. As a result some of the advice, which we’ll give to brands is to actually think about dialling down levels of virality and emotional intensity and start thinking about inserting the product in there, especially if it’s an FMCG advert, a brand you’ve personally been exposed to this piece of content will walk into a supermarket. It’s really important that brand recall has worked, because there’s soap powder X and soap powder Y and it’s at that point that they’ll make a decision based on that.

Don’t over invest in content and under invest in distribution. Obviously we are a company that profits from distribution of content. This is why this isn’t disingenuous. The simple fact, statistically from this book, is that if a video is only seen by a few people it can only be shared by a few people. It’s common sense.

We’ve got Malcom Gladwell who wrote Tipping Point to thank for this misunderstanding, people seem to think that you stick a video on YouTube and it’s somehow going to inexorably grow and turn into a viral sensation. It simply doesn’t happen, apart from the odd black swan event, like Gangnam Style or some other meme. The reality of the situation is that to get a large number of shares there needs to be a large viewer base to start. Now, this is a screen from our lab, we’ve got a lab based over in East London in the basement, and these things refer to different types of digital media. The basic story is distribute in as many places as possible, as quickly as possible to add oxygen to the fire over a short period of time to drive virality.

And then, exhilaration. We’ve actually undertaken quite a lot of study about exhilaration recently, almost accidentally, because of the World Cup coming to Brazil and creating a specific share program, and exhilaration looks, by the way this is Top Trend, is going to be what a lot of the content created for the World Cup is going to be all about. But, as I was eluding to a moment ago, exhilaration is the most successful trigger in terms of driving both virality, but at the same time making people remember stuff with 65% recall.

Second, incidentally is hilarity with 51% in terms of making people share and remember a thing. We’ve found from our studies hilarity is the trigger most often missed, unsurprisingly. It’s all about exhilaration and I think we’ve got another little video to show you, which you may or may not have been exposed to, which is all about hilarity.

Magnificent stuff. The seventh most shared video of last year. We’re showing this video because we’re often asked the questions about whether, would social video be right for my brand. Volvo trucks is something which is not necessarily immediately congruent with that. So it’s a good lesson to people, that you can play in that space if you want to.

Anyway, thank you very much you guys.”

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