According to Dr. Brent Coker, an internet consumer psychologist from the University of Melbourne, he has found that successful viral videos get 10,000 viewers per week on YouTube. Critically, it’s the speed in which it spreads that determines its success. The faster the video can spread, the more likely it will survive and be granted viral status.
But alas, so few videos make it to viral status.
In an interesting study report in Harvard Business Review in March 2012 titled “The New Science of Viral Ads” by Thales Teixeria, infra-red eye-tracking scanners were used to determine exactly what people are watching when looking at video ads. A system was also used to analyze facial expressions to discover what viewers were feeling. By combining both the results from these relatively new technologies, the researchers were able to pinpoint elements that contribute to people being engaged or bored. In the research, they were able to find out what types of people are likely to share video and what types of ads are likely to be passed around.
4 simple Steps to Creating Viral Videos
The subtle use of Branding
The first things viewers focus on, in the opening sequence of a video, are the actors’ mouths and eyes. But it is not in a good way. The more prominent the logo design, the more likely viewers are to stop watching (even if they recognize the brand and like it).
Falling in line with research by YouTube, you need to show people at the start of a video and only use minimal branding at the end (5 seconds tops). The first 15 seconds of an ad is crucial in getting attention and commitment to watch. While Dr. Coker’s research has also found that getting branded videos to go viral is a big challenge.
2. Keep People Surprised
To keep viewers involved with a video, you need to focus on two emotions: joy or surprise. And you need to generate this, fairly early on. In the past, ads used to escalate towards a dramatic climax or surprise ending. But this doesn’t work anymore (what does?). You need to hook people in during the few opening seconds. Buying views also make your video viral and help you to gain more views.
Build an Emotional Roller Coaster
But don’t make them laugh, too much! While it can work to get people to watch a video, if the joy delivered at a constant level is fairly stable, people stop watching. Yes, that’s right a video that produces a stable emotional state isn’t effective. Which means that us humans like an emotional roller-coaster ride because we just don’t have enough drama in our lives (okay – it’s more about human adaptability, but we won’t go into the research now).
Finding the Connectors
Not everyone shares. It’s more of a personality quirk than anything else.
What the research found was the people who are extroverted and egocentric like to share (yep, narcissists and other egocentric types) want to increase their status. So while they generally don’t like sharing, they do online when it makes them look good to show how savvy and with it they are.