The Science Behind Sharable Video

Opinion: Finding a viral topic is the foundation on which your video will be built

This doesn't happen for every video DragonImages/iStock

We live in an age where everyone wants their social video content to be as shared and viewed as much as possible. Social videos have secured a constant place in our daily lives, and engaging content fills up our social feeds and conversations.

While most think finding internet stardom is a stroke of luck (remember Chewbacca Mom?), smart marketers and brands shouldn’t leave it up to chance.

There is a science behind the art of creating videos that capture our attention. Using these tools, you, too, can create social videos with the right chemistry.

Spend time on finding the viral topic

When you were taking an exam in school, you didn’t walk in and wing it (unless you were a genius). Most of us had to study, practice-test and study some more.

The same goes for creating social videos. You need to study those that have succeeded and failed, but, most important, analyze the why: Why did it get so many likes? Why did people share?

Not all topics are viral. If they were, every single video on the internet would have millions of views.

Cats rule the internet instead of dogs. Why? Cats are more compelling to watch because they are mysterious, they rarely acknowledge the viewer and their nonchalant attitudes are funny.

Finding a viral topic is the foundation on which your video will be built. Viral trends are often counterintuitive, which is why it’s important to use data and analytics as a starting point for creating content.

Using trend detectors, you can see which topics are viral and begin to develop your video’s concept. Your findings may surprise you. Nothing is off-limits, and trending topics can be anything from body painting to smart furniture.

Adapt content to the correct platform

So, you’ve done your research, strategized and created a video. Quick question: Has it been adapted to each social platform you’re targeting, and not the other way around?

Social platforms are unique. They are distributed and engaged with differently, and they require specific strategies when creating content for them.

Instagram and Snapchat, for example, require short-form videos. According to Hootsuite, 60 percent of Snapchat users are under the age of 25, with 23 percent in high school. A very long Snapchat Story will be unsuccessful with users who have short attention spans and expect content that is quick and immediately gets to the point.

In contrast, Facebook videos can be longer, but it’s important to catch users’ attention within the first three seconds while they’re scrolling their News Feed.

Additionally, publishers know that the majority of people watch Facebook videos without sound. Understanding this, if you post a video on Facebook without subtitles, you’re going to lose viewers within those crucial first three seconds.

Tap into emotions and community connections

Psy’s Gangnam Style and See You Again by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth are two of the three most-watched videos on YouTube, each with approximately 3 billion views. How did these two make it to the head of the video-sharing class, and what can we learn from their success? Both tap into key human emotions—humor and nostalgia—to engage large numbers of people.

Gangnam Style is a zany video full of slapstick humor, sleek outfits and fun dance moves. Psy targeted a specific community: Korean youth and young adults who are typically less traditional than their parents. His humor resonated with them, they shared on social and it soon crossed over to Western media. From there, it boomed.

See You Again is a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker, who died prior to the release of Furious 7. It was featured in an emotional scene in the film, and fans of the franchise flocked to the video to pay their respects and reminisce about the actor’s character, Brian O’Conner. With flashbacks to older movies in the franchise, the video plays into themes of family and memories of the actor, capturing this close community of moviegoers’ hearts.

Test-market and promote

You wouldn’t sell a product without getting the feedback of your friends or those who are knowledgeable about (or interested in) your industry, would you? The same goes with a viral video.

Creating focus groups to watch multiple videos on the same subject will allow you to observe the best-performing videos. The people in your test-market pool should represent the demographics you’re targeting, and they will give you insight into what they find engaging.

Social distribution is all about algorithms. Once you understand how they work, you can promote your video on the appropriate channels at the appropriate times. Making use of an influencer database to distribute your video will drum up interest and views. With more views comes more shares, and with more shares comes more followers, which leads to organic views, and the cycle continues.

Creating a shareable piece of content requires strategic planning and execution. The next time you want to create a social video, keep these tips in mind. Sure, there will be a random viral cat video here and there (everyone loves kittens), but if marketers want to succeed, they’ll have to do a lot more than wish they strike gold.

Class dismissed.

Michael Philippe is co-founder and CEO at social channel creator Keli Network.