What is a viral video? What are the social triggers that make us share the content online? Join us as we uncover the mechanism of the creation and distribution of viral content [Video]

To understand how content becomes viral we must start with understanding the amount of information constantly published online.

Every minute:

  • Google receives over 4,000,000 search queries
  • Blog writers post 1400 new blog posts
  • Facebook users share 2,460,000 pieces of content
  • Twitter users tweet 277,000 times
  • Instagram users post 216,000 new photos
  • Vine users share 8,333 videos
  • Youtube users upload 72 hours of new video

How to survive this fierce competition and stand out in this constant data buzz is a million dollar question that content marketers continue to ask themselves. Actually, there is no recipe, it’s all about three simple ideas: right timing, usefulness and emotions.

Happiness & Sharing

Let’s start with the basics: what is a viral video? We can define it as a video clip that is spreading rapidly online trough websites, blogs and social media, with great number of views and shares, often over a million. Techopedia helps us distinguish three broad categories:

  • Unintentional Viral Videos: their creators never intended to go viral, these videos may have been posted by the creator or shared with friends, who then spread the content
  • Humorous Viral Videos: Videos that have been created specifically to entertain people, and if a video is funny enough, it will spread
  • Promotional Viral videos: Videos that are designed to go viral with a marketing message to raise brand awareness, and they are created with viral marketing practices

What they all have in common is that they trigger a strong response from the emotional, cognitive or primal areas of the brain. The recent research by Unruly shows that of all the videos on YouTube 50% are seen by fewer than 1,000 people and only 0.06 percent actually have more than a million views. These triggers are what makes them stand out.

The research also determined 18 psychological responses that are most effective at driving social sharing:

  1. happiness
  2. exhilaration
  3. amazement
  4. inspiration
  5. hilarity
  6. contempt
  7. disgust
  8. sadness
  9. warmth
  10. pride
  11. nostalgia
  12. surprise
  13. knowledge
  14. shock
  15. confusion
  16. arousal
  17. fear
  18. anger

According to Devra Prywes, VP of marketing and insight for Unruly, “Emotional content is really content that connects with the viewer,”. “They have to feel something really strongly because you have to own a share. People have to stop what they’re doing and just be compelled to share this content with either close friends or more broadly with their entire Facebook network.”

The social motivators and the emotions they create have the fundamental role in viral content. We connect with people based on shared interest or passion, we share an idea or product that we feel might be useful to someone, we like to share a video that promotes a good cause or the idea we strongly believe in. When a content taps our fundamental emotions there is a big chance we will share it – and this is how it becomes viral.