What Makes a Video Go Viral? 3 Unruly Tips for Social Video Success

What Makes a Video Go Viral? 3 Unruly Tips for Social Video Success

Unruly Media announced the world's first social video lab last Wednesday and we were able to ask Dan Best, Unruly's Planning Director, some questions about it.  It's a lab that was created to turn the virality of a video from a question to a science, to give brands an insane amount of data that will ensure that their video is likely to be shared.  But what makes a video viral?  Ahh...we've seen a lot of discussion about that, haven't we?  Well, let's talk to one of the experts.  Dan Best is the Planning Director at Unruly, and he told us a few things about Unruly's new lab and what makes a video viral.

What Makes A Video Something People Want to Share?

What Makes a Video Go Viral? 3 Unruly Tips for Social Video SuccessBest says of the new lab, "This is the first lab to focus on the science behind what makes content shareable. It's also the first lab to offer brands a full social video health check. This health check includes the brands' SOV against their competitive set, benchmarking their performance against category and audience, creative pre-testing plus insight from taste-makers, bloggers and sharers. This arms brands with insight they need to make their video content truly social."

ReelSEO: Have you found that there is a formula for a video going viral?  Can you go into any detail about what makes a video successful?

Dan Best: Here are three tips for social video success:

1) Get under the skin of your audience

What Makes a Video Go Viral? 3 Unruly Tips for Social Video SuccessThink about the type of viewers you're hoping to reach and find out what they like to talk about with their friends.  Online videos are a valuable social currency, increasingly used as conversation starters, social lubricants, props for self-expression and as a means of winning validation and approbation within a peer group.  If the video you've produced is perceived to have a high value within your target peer group - because it's particularly entertaining/relevant/meaningful to this group - it's much more likely to get passed on.

2) Choose appropriate triggers

What Makes a Video Go Viral? 3 Unruly Tips for Social Video SuccessOnce you've got an understanding of what makes your audience tick, you'll be better placed to identify the content triggers most likely to hit your target audience's sweet spot.

When we're evaluating content at Unruly, we find the concept of triggers extremely helpful for predicting levels of social video success. Lots of the triggers will already be on your radar: Funny, Sexy, Random and Surprising are some of the well-established reasons that people pass on videos, though Illuminating, Shocking, Spectacular and Hyper-relevant have the power to activate equally high levels of sharing.

3) Turn the volume up to “11”

What Makes a Video Go Viral? 3 Unruly Tips for Social Video SuccessOnce you've decided on your social triggers, focus on making them as strong as possible. There's no point being quite funny, quite illuminating and quite spectacular. Better to go for one or two triggers and work them to the max. For instance if humor is your trigger, you'll need a pay-off that's worthy of a belly laugh. If sexy is your trigger, you should be aiming for steam-up-the-windows sexy: a lukewarm bath will not cut the mustard.

As a general rule, if your video is to have a chance of social success, it should be arresting enough to elicit a physical reaction from the viewer (tears, laughter, goosebumps & gasps are all good).

Know The Basics: Focus And Social Triggers

Best's tips come down to honing what your message is, finding who your target audience is, and not trying to go for every possible social trigger in the book.  What Unruly's lab is attempting is to narrow down what it is that a brand's campaign needs to become successfully shareable.  When I asked Best how a brand or an agency benefited from Unruly Labs, he said:

Underpinned by our in-house team of 20 world class engineers, the social video lab will give Unruly clients a real edge over their competition

  • Using groundbreaking biometric technology, Unruly’s clients will have a scientific understanding of why people share content
  • Using big-data analytics, Unruly’s clients will be in a position to predict the social success of their own branded content
  • Most important of all, Unruly’s clients will be able to quantify the ROI of their social marketing activities as we track the extent to which earned media and social advocacy affect brand metrics and product sales

Marketing has always been an art, now it's also becoming a science, so we deliberately chose the “Laboratory” paradigm for this facility because we believe that technology (both our own and that of the 3rd parties we’ve invited to be our lab partners) has evolved to the point at which marketers can have, should have -- and indeed deserve – verifiable, predictive insights, learning and solutions based on hard data and rigorous application of scientific research methodology.

So it's really cool that "what makes a video viral" is being narrowed down into a science: looking at the data, not leaving things to chance.  It's easy to say, "Great content is what people go for," but you might not know exactly how to best create that content without the facts.  Hopefully we'll be seeing a whole lot more great content in the future with studies like this leading the way.

Thanks to David Waterhouse at Unruly for his help on this article.

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Posted in Social Video, Viral Video Marketing
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About the Author -
Chris Atkinson joined ReelSEO in 2011. He is a longtime film and television reviewer, and has almost two decades of experience in the theater industry. He also writes on his personal blog - http://nymoviereviews.com. View All Posts By -

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