Even though so much seems to left to chance, we do know quite a lot about human behavior, which can help to tip luck in our favor when creating marketing content. Recent research tells us that there are six psychological traits that can be incorporated into videos that encourage people to hit the share button.
The best way to better understand how these traits work is by looking at some examples. To get a clear view of virality, I present the top ten videos on YouTube’s 2013 Rewind page…
- Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)
- Harlem Shake (Original Army Edition)
- How Animals Eat Their Food | MisterEpicMann
- Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball (Chatroulette Version)
- evian baby&me
- Volvo Trucks – The Epic Split feat. Van Damme
- YOLO (feat. Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar)
- Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise
- “THE NFL : A Bad Lip Reading”
- Mozart vs Skrillex. Epic Rap Battles of History Season 2
Of the six known psychology traits, here is what I see in the above:
- All but two (Harlem Shake and Epic Splits) are funny. In this set, Humor far outpaces any of the other psychology traits that we can bake into creative content.
- Six of them (What does the Fox say?, Harlem Shake, Wrecking Ball, Baby & Me, YOLO, and Epic Rap Battle) are based on Catchy Tunes. As viewers, we can sing along, which further penetrates our brains.
- All of them contain an element of Unexpectedness, but Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise lets us in on the action as it happens.
- Four of them (Epic Splits, YOLO, Bad Lip Reading, and Epic Rap Battle) utilize Celebrity, but only one (YOLO) can use that celebrity as a Tastemaker.
So while it is highly unlikely that you will beat out Ylvis or Psy to the top of the virality charts, you can do yourself a favor by including traits that appeal to people on a psychological level. Done right, these traits will hopefully boost reach. So if you’re like most of us, and you don’t necessarily care about hundreds of millions of views (several thousand would be great!), psychology traits can certainly help.
To increase your chances of getting more shares from your next video, consider including the following shareability traits in your next video…
- Sing it!
- Scientists believe music energizes the entire brain, puts the entire brain into overdrive
- Scientists also believe listening to music releases dopamine, the same stuff that athletes call a “runner’s high”
- When we can sing along, the entire concept, people, and brand stick to our brains
- Add humor and you’ve got yourself a blockbuster
- Be funny
- Just ask any comedian, this is way easier said than done
- Consider a completely different character or setting to make it ironic
- Self-deprecation always works, but only if you know you’re not the only one with the situation or condition
- Deadpan also works well, ie. DollarShaveClub.com
- Be awesome and unexpected
- Show something novel, completely new or a new way to solve an age-old problem
- Creating curiosity will keep their attention
- Get out of your comfort zone, people will love you for it
- Provide Social Currency
- We feel better about ourselves when we share things that make us look smart, funny, clever, etc. to others
- People also love to be helpful so they share things that provide practical value
- Tell a story
- People lean forward when they are entertained
- We experience personal journeys, not merely watch or read them, so they are remembered better than simply describing a product or concept
- Leverage others (known as Influencers or Tastemakers)
- Alignment with your brand is critical
- Consider not the volume of their followers but the quality and applicability to your target audience
In all of these cases, production value is not nearly as important as the content itself. Something is better than nothing. And you may need to dig really deep to find the right story, the right way of telling it and the right people to show it. Perhaps a few beers would help get the creative juices flowing. And it may not come the first time so be willing to experiment. Some top viral celebrities get by on nothing more than their creativity, drive, and a webcam. What I’m getting at is, you don’t need a big Hollywood budget to get more shares, what you need is a little brainpower applied in the right way. Hopefully these tips will get you going in the right direction. If you’re still stuck, we would be more than happy to help.