5 Tactics Brands are Using to Drive Online Video Virality

According to Talent Partners, 30% of senior advertising executives predict that viral video will have the most commercial production growth in 2014. It makes sense when you consider that 44% of smartphone users, 43% of computer users and 37% of tablet users watch viral videos on these devices (Vubiquity). Last month alone, 186.9 million Americans watched online video content—that’s 58% of the country’s entire population.

Any number of executives can tell you that they’re going to make viral videos, but virality is never guaranteed. However, certain types of content tend to perform better than others. Here are 5 tactics brands are using to drive online video virality:

1. Strategic Product Placements

Bear Naked, an all natural whole grain granola brand, has teamed up with YouTuber devinsupertramp to produce two viral videos, both with obvious product placement. However, this isn’t deterring people from watching and engaging with the clips. Why? Because they each feature extreme activities most people can only ever dream about.

Example A: Human Bowling

1.8 million YouTube views; 56,000 social shares

Example B: Urban Surfing

1.6 million YouTube views; 64,000 social shares

2. User-Generated Content

Coca-Cola is known for its extensive portfolio of viral video ads. Most of the company’s videos feature hidden camera social experiments, but in May of this year Coca-Cola released its first ad made entirely out of user-generated content. The spot aired on TV and was also uploaded to the company’s YouTube channel where it earned more 600,000 views.

3. Influencer Videos

Brands that partner with popular YouTube personalities are able to capitalize on this influencer’s audience, oftentimes driving significant viewership and engagement as a result. For example, game developer Ubisoft partnered with Smosh, a YouTube group with more than 18 million subscribers and three billion total video views, to promote Assassin’s Creed III.

This video has racked up almost 53 million YouTube views and 1.2 million social shares.

4. Stunts/Pranks

Over the last couple of years, prankvertising has exploded. Brands pull stunts or play pranks on unsuspecting victims, and online audiences eat it up. Pepsi has become famous for its pranks. In fact, its top three most popular YouTube videos feature these kinds of stunts.

“Test Drive”

46.6 million YouTube views; 2.6 million social shares

“Uncle Drew”

34.2 million YouTube views; 941,000 social shares

“Test Drive 2”

16.5 million YouTube views; 667,000 social shares

5. Participant Reactions

Capturing sincere reactions from average Joes is currently the hottest trend in online video advertising. The most famous example, “Dove Beauty Sketches,” has more than 64 million views on YouTube.

In the past few months, a slew of brands have produced reaction-based videos.

American Well “World’s Toughest Job”

21.3 million YouTube views; 2 million social shares

Wren “First Kiss”

87.8 million YouTube views; 2.1 million social shares

Always “#LikeAGirl”

41.3 million YouTube views; 1.1 million social shares

See the common denominator here? It’s regular people. Brands are moving away from overly promotional online videos and are using bystanders, influencers and candid actors to appeal to online audiences. Obviously, this strategy is working pretty well. Consumers don’t want to watch irrelevant, in-your-face ads—they come online to watch entertaining, relatable videos. In order for virality to be an attainable goal, it’s essential that brands keep this in mind throughout the entire video production process.

About Hannah Brenzel

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