Viral Videos and Twitter: A New Study

On Monday, Twitter’s UK research team published a blog post that focuses on three different videos and their rise to virality. Author and Editorial Manager of @TwitterUK Gordon MacMillan discusses a series on Vine entitled “Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal”; astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield singing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” while orbiting earth aboard the International Space Station; and Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches marketing campaign.

As you know, there is no secret formula that can guarantee virality. Twitter’s UK research team reiterated that fact: “There are no rules to ‘virality,’” wrote MacMillan. “While some ignite, and spread like wildfire across the web, the growth of others is much more measured, like ripples spreading across a lake.”

To complement its findings and research, Twitter also created videos that display the growth of these viral hits (shown below the viral videos in this story). The blue dots represent Tweets (the bigger the dot, the larger the potential reach), and the yellow dots represent retweets.

The first viral example, “Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal,” is a series of Vine videos created by @RyanWMcHenry. By seeding his Vines with key influencers like @BestVinesEver and @VineLoops, McHenry paved a quick and easy path to virality. The insight here: if you can effectively seed your content with top influencers (even just a few), your video may generate viral potential.

Next up is Commander Chris Hadfield’s cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Since its release on May 12, the video has received over 17 million YouTube views and 1.8 million social shares. Ninety percent of these shares happened within the first three days. In this case, global influencers drove the video to virality. The unique nature of this video also encouraged sharing and discussions.

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches #WeAreBeautiful campaign owes its viral status to positive audience sentiment and the resulting shares. Though this video didn’t gain momentum as fast as the Hadfield video, it ultimately earned more views—55.6 million to be exact. Conversations developed among communities around the world and generated 2.3 million social shares.

“This video showed less burnout than the others, and there were also fewer influencer-induced spikes,” MacMillan said. “Instead, conversation existed in clusters of communities spread around the world—showing the value of local engagement.”

Additional Twitter Insights:

1. Twitter users love video

Tweets containing video have strong engagement rates, with 42% likely to retweet, reply, or mention brand Tweets that contain a fun or interesting video.

2. Videos are easily shareable

Videos integrate seamlessly into a Tweet, and every Tweet is instantly shareable. Make sure you devise a hashtag to organize the conversations around the video campaign and messages.

3. Promoted products amplify your reach

Use Promoted Tweets and Trends to help surface and amplify your message. Combine with interest and keyword targeting to hit the right audience.

4. Get creative with Vine

Vine lets you create six-second looping videos that are instantly shareable on Twitter. And if you really love it you can Re-vine!

If you have questions about their findings, reach out to the researchers directly,@jakesteadman and @lougirlie.

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