There’s no denying the power of a viral video.
The Dollar Shave Club is now a legendary example. The company, which sells $1 razors, made a low-budget video that went so viral it crashed the company’s website almost immediately after its released. Currently with more than 9.6 million views, the ad’s deadpan humor put the company on the map and led to $10 million in venture Capital funding.
While Dollar Shave Club hit the jackpot, just being funny isn’t enough to guarantee going viral.
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Unruly Media tracks the most-shared videos on the internet — there’s a difference between watching a video because you’re bored and liking something so much you share it with a friend — and has come up with an algorithm that allows advertisers to know whether their ads will blow up.
We talked to Cat Jones, Unruly’s head of business, and she told us what advertisers have to do to make an ad go crazy on the internet.
Cat Jones of Unruly told us that no matter the sector, there are two things that are crucial to making a viral video:
“The intensity of the psychological response people feel when they see the ad,” Jones said, “and the strength of the social motivation — the reason that they have to share.”
If a brand can make someone feel something really strongly (whether that feeling is overwhelmingly positive or negative) then that will give them a good reason to pass it on.
There are a number of psychological responses a company can hit. The first is the most obvious and, also, the hardest: BE FUNNY.
Unfortunately, a lot of people want to be funny. And a lot of people who think they’re funny, aren’t.
“It’s hard for people to do well since it’s been so used,” Jones said. “That audience is quite discerning.”
But if you’re going to be funny, do it like this Unruly favorite. “Dumb Ways to Die” by McCann Melbourne has been viewed 43 million times and shared 3 million times:
Instead going for the funny bone, try to pull at the heart strings. Warmth is another viral factor.
“We’re seeing a shift to that really warm nostalgia,” Jones said.
She used the example of Budweiser’s “Brotherhood” ad, about a Clydesdale horse and his trainer, that swept the Super Bowl. “That was warmth and happiness … and it was the second most shared Super Bowl ad of all time,” she said.
“Brotherhood” by Anomaly has been viewed 14 million times and shared more than 2.6 million since February: