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Wednesday, January 22, 2014


YouTube recently revealed the top ten viral videos of 2013. Since marketing videos are my business, here is a critique four of them to give you an idea of how the psychology of sharing helped them reach the top. 

#4 Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball (Chatroulette Version) by Steve Kardynal











Humor
This takes Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear in Risky Business to a whole new level. The scraggly beard and super tight tighty whities send us over the top as he gyrates on the couch and hangs from an inflatable wrecking ball. And singing along to Miley Cyrus is way funnier than to Bob Seger. Hilarious.
Public
The raw authenticity from the guy’s webcam makes us feel like we’ve accidentally dropped in on the wrong conference call – very wrong. And seeing real people in the left pane experiencing the video lends credibility; just like a sit-com laugh-track, their laughter causes us to laugh. 
Unexpectedness
Seeing a grown man dancing in his underwear, licking a hammer and swinging on a rubber ball hanging from a rope is shocking, to say the least.

#6 Volvo Trucks “Live test” 










Awe
A guy (an old guy at that!) doing the splits between two large semi trucks travelling backwards is highly unusual, dangerous, and awesome. While it may have been faked (even though the makers swear it isn’t), the drama that Volvo manufactured is real. Judging from the comments, it was faked but that didn’t seem to stop millions from sharing it.
Celebrity
Unfortunately for Volvo, I’m afraid using Jean-Claude Van Damme for this spectacle discounts the possibility that it’s real. How old is the guy anyway? Using someone more nimble, such as an acrobat from Cirque du Soleil, might have made it more believable. Plus, he’s been out of circulation for so long I don’t think his inclusion provides much of a boost. 
Unexpectedness
For those who think such a stunt is possible, this is truly mind-blowing. People might examine it for evidence of a green screen down the road. But the immediate impact is truly incredible. 

Additional note: Given that this video is from a major truck manufacturer, the virality was most likely boosted with advertising. The company doesn’t give any stats on how much money they spent to promote it so we don’t know for sure how viral it really was. Perhaps a small budget was devoted to get the word out then it took off on it’s own.

#7 YOLO (feat. Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar)










Celebrity
Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar are both serious A-list musical talent so we sit up and take notice. We wouldn’t love this video nearly as much as we do were it not for the performers who deliver it.
Humor
Wearing ear protection in a nightclub is just the beginning of a hysterical poke at trying to curb youthful indiscretion. Don’t ever travel, just live in a titanium bomb shelter. In fact, make a titanium suit in case a piano falls on you. Great stuff.
Tastemakers
Adam Levine, Kendrick Lamar, and Andy Samberg likely aided the initial distribution using their own social networks. And it originally aired on Saturday Night Live so millions saw it before it hit the web.
Unexpectedness
Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar advising young adults to be careful is just as unexpected (and funny) as Christopher Walken needing to hear more cowbell.

#8 Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise










Awe
Seeing a young woman slamming a grown man up against the wall using her telekinetic powers leaves a lasting impression. Even better, the awe we feel upon seeing the expressions on the uninformed is even more powerful.
Humor
Even though Candid Camera pioneered the concept more than 60 years ago, this clever video shows that hidden camera stunts can still work. We enjoy being in on the secret, and love to laugh at the poor sucker who isn’t.
Story
Even though the two are not perfectly intertwined, telling friends about the video easily parlays into a discussion about the sponsoring product, the movie Carrie.

Additional note: Given that this video is from a major movie studio, the virality was most likely boosted with advertising. The company doesn’t give any stats on how much money they spent to promote it so we don’t know for sure how viral it really was. Perhaps a small budget was devoted to get the word out then it took off on it’s own. 

Were these videos just lucky? Hardly. Thanks to groundbreaking research, we now know that getting something to go viral takes much more than mere luck. There are several traits that companies can bake into their marketing content to leverage the psychology of sharing. And we also know that socialized content can deliver far better customer engagement than advertising. To learn more about the psychology of sharing, visit InterplayAgency.com.

Special thanks to Dan Clark for today's post. Dan Clark is the owner and Creative Director of Interplay Agency, a leading content marketing consultancy based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Contact information below:

InterplayAgency.com  

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