Storytelling – The art of the viral video

Posted on Friday, June 27th, 2014 by

Brands are now expected to engage and connect with consumers in a more social way than ever. The importance of online engagement is particularly relevant considering there is now a plethora of marketing channels; brands don’t automatically opt for a TV campaign.

The growth in access and popularity of YouTube, Vine, Instagram and even Snapchat has meant that viral videos, along with the selfie and other social media zeitgeists, are now what are becoming known as marketing’s ‘new frontier’. YouTube alone has more than 4 billion views per day, and it’s the second largest search engine, right after Google. 78 per cent of people watch YouTube videos at least once a week and 55 per cent watch every day. But creating a successful viral video is not a science, it’s an art.

Traditional brands are now maverick storytellers 

Online videos should prompt people to engage with a brand in an authentic and genuine way. Essentially people share videos for the same reason that people stand at the water cooler talking about the latest Asda advert featuring a gnome in a thong. It’s shareable and worth talking about (if you like that kind of thing).

If done well a brand can essentially sit back, relax and watch the views rack up. Viral videos spread for the same reason as successful TV advertisements: through compelling and shareable content.

And that is the key. Video is shared so easily and frequently that the advantage of creating a viral video is huge. More than 500 years’ worth of YouTube videos are watched daily on Facebook. More than 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute. The more shares and views a video can garner equals more engagement and awareness for the brand.

What makes a successful viral video?

Marketers must consider multiple issues, including distribution and timing. But they must remember that like all media, old and new, content is king.

The reason videos are so shareable is, if done right, they can more successfully evoke emotion from the viewer. Be it heartfelt emotion or humour, the spectrum is large. One of the biggest obstacles for brands to overcome is recognising that a video should not only be relevant to their brand identity, but resonate with their consumer on an emotional level.

Some of the most exceptional content leans more toward lightly branded videos; Evian and Dove are two brands who excel at achieving this. Videos that conjure deeper emotions generate greater engagement. But let’s face it, their purpose is lost if your audience only remembers the content and forgets the brand. Consumer memorability reports regularly find that while consumers remember engaging content, they can’t always remember the brand that created it. If brand recognition is achieved, then that brand recall will last (hopefully longer than the videos of furry kittens playing with string).

How Outlook can help

There are a number of strategies brands can utilise when it comes to approaching the minefield that is branded viral videos. Yes, forking out to make a video can potentially be costly and there is always the risk that even after all those hours spent on pre-production and editing, a viral video will in the end just be a video. Or it may go viral but those views won’t quite convert into the results the brand was hoping for, which at the very least video allows for real-time feedback and interaction between consumers and a brand.

Visual storytelling can help an organisation stay relevant to their consumers, and like many of the social trends that people dismissed to be fads, the viral video isn’t going anywhere soon.

Take a look at some of our video work. For more information, please get in touch.