When viral marketing takes off, it can expand your ad audience broadly and quickly, at no additional cost.
In the world of advertising and promotion, video is above all and likely to stay there for the foreseeable future.
A 2022 study of marketing professionals and online consumers shows that 88% of marketers call video an important part of their marketing strategy, while 69% of online consumers say they’d rather watch a video than read a product explanation.
In fact, digital video advertising spending in the US is projected to increase to $78.5 billion by 2023 — more than double the amount spent in 2019.
Video content with just the right mixture of value, appeal, and timing can generate excitement like nothing else in today’s media landscape can — making viral marketing videos the holy grail of modern advertising.
A company like HelloRache understands this well. The virtual administrative assistant services brand posted a TikTok video at the end of 2021 that received 1.1 million plays, 54,000 likes, and over 3,000 comments (and counting).
And the best part?
For consumers, discovering content this way can lead to feelings of authenticity and enthusiasm that are harder to create with traditional advertising methods.
For instance, you might be more receptive to an ad that a friend sent you, than one that forcibly interrupts your favorite show.
While brands feel motivated to capitalize on viral marketing strategies, determining what exactly causes certain videos to spread like wildfire can be difficult to understand.
That’s why understanding the psychology behind viral marketing videos is so important.
With that in mind, you might be thinking …
What should my video focus be?
Should I prioritize entertainment value?
Should I focus on providing solid information?
What makes people care enough about an ad to share it with others?
Even the best statistics software can’t tell you the probability of your video going viral. So today we’ll explore the answers to these questions by analyzing some recent ads that have enjoyed viral success.
Ready to look deeper to see what’s made these ads a hit?
Let’s get started!
Humor is one of the most easily identifiable reasons viral marketing videos get passed around.
But relying on laughs to fuel your marketing campaign can be tricky — what people find funny can be highly subjective.
Additionally, there are plenty of pitfalls concerning cultural sensitivities, current events, and other factors that could cause a video to seem tone-deaf or actively damage your brand.
Incorporating humor is valuable, but it’s best to study and practice ways to add other types of social significance to your promotional videos as well.
For instance, videos that provoke a range of thoughts and opinions from viewers can leave lasting impressions.
Heineken's, “The Closer” is a great example of marketing built around timely, socially-relevant messaging.
Released with a Bluetooth-enabled bottle opener that can power down work-related devices, this ad depicts the tool in use by people in desperate need of some work-life balance.
This video is successful because it taps into widely held feelings about the impact that increased accessibility has had on workplace culture. It positions its product and brand in a supportive role to those feeling the same pain while maintaining a light and hopeful tone.
The same model can be applied in many other ways.
For example, if you sell event tickets, consider why your customers attend your events — and find ways to make connections to them in your advertising.
Highlighting how your events can provide stress relief or help people build connections may help provide that viral spark your ad needs to take off.
Proper timing and meeting your audience where they are is also crucial.
For instance, if your audience lives on Instagram, dig deep to discover what kind of content they care about most. Then, conduct research to discover when to post on Instagram so you can make the most of their time online.
Entertainment isn’t the only reason audiences consume and share video content.
Videos that provide constructive, useful information make their value clear and can be a great fit for just about any industry.
For instance, demonstrating how your product or idea can contribute to someone’s sense of safety and security can help you create a memorable ad that can inspire users to click “share”.
Apple leans into this idea with its “911” ad.
The concept of this video is simple: Apple features actual 911 emergency call recordings made using Apple Watches.
The ad uses deceptively serene aerial footage as a visual backdrop, which emphasizes how remote each location is: A deserted bridge, a sprawling farm, and miles of open sea.
With this ad, viewers can imagine how long and terrifying waiting for help in these locations would be without a device.
The Apple Watch is now in its seventh generation.
While some Apple campaigns focused on the amusement and convenience it offers, this ad honed in on more serious reasons users might find it valuable — expanding its audience’s understanding of the product’s potential.
However, your ad campaign certainly doesn’t have to center around life and death subject matter to contain practical value.
Recipes, repair tutorials, and product user guides all appeal to the same sense of practicality.
Consider your industry and your audience’s needs — and then brainstorm how your video content can meet them.
For instance, let’s say you run a courier service and you want to make a viral video about how fast your service is.
In this case, you could create Reels or mini videos showcasing a “busy and quick delivery series”.
Each mini video could be an “episode” showcasing a different courier that drives and attends to their customers as quickly as possible. Add in some humor, storytelling, and a dab of emotion, and you’ve got a recipe for viral marketing goodness.
And speaking of emotion …
Stimulating an emotional reaction in your audience is necessary for anyone who wants to add social or practical value to their advertising. But it’s important to carefully consider which emotions you’d like your ad to activate and in what way.
As we mentioned before, humor for its own sake can be risky.
But poking fun at social phenomena like housing market trends can be a goldmine of funny, relatable content as this Rocket Mortgage ad shows.
This video connects with its viewers on an emotional level by touching on the frustration with real estate customer stereotypes, triggering some millennial nostalgia, and injecting some levity into the notoriously stressful process of buying a home.
Notice how crucial the visual aesthetic is to the overall impact of this ad?
You may or may not have the marketing budget to land a celebrity spokesperson. But attention to visual details can boost an ad campaign’s effectiveness, no matter the scope or size.
When brainstorming your visuals, consider using design templates to plan your storyboards in advance. Then, lock arms with an experienced documentary-style videographer to brainstorm creative ways to shoot your video to appeal to your ideal audience.
Finding a way to stand out might be the greatest challenge you face in your pursuit of viral video glory. Your audience’s browsers and social media feeds are already inundated with marketers who have similar goals.
When considering ways to set yourself apart, it’s important to remember the power of storytelling. Though it predates much of our modern technology, the ability to craft an engaging narrative is still a crucial skill to develop.
After all, stirring up your audience’s emotions won’t help your bottom line unless your ad helps connect those feelings to your brand. Luckily, modern tools like BIGVU’s AI rewrite for business help creators come up with ready-to-use scripts in seconds by just recording a few lines.
Well-executed storytelling can serve as the glue that holds all of the other important elements of your ad together — the value it offers, the product information it contains, and the emotions it activates.
Notice the way that this Samsung ad encourages viewers to gaze at Galaxy S22 design features from the main character’s point of view?
In a little over a minute, the ad introduces a character, develops a conflict, arrives at a climax, and delivers a resolution.
Storytelling touchpoints like these feel instantly familiar to viewers and can help them retain a stronger impression of your product than simple promotional copy can.
So think about it …
How's your business impacting your community and the world beyond?
What’s exciting about your newest products or services?
What do you want people to feel when they hear or think about your brand?
Telling great stories can help you permeate the answers to the above questions in your audience's mind.
Psst: Did you know that BIGVU offers a teleprompter tool, captioning, and video editing solutions that can give your content a seamless and professional feel?
Register today to create free videos anytime!
If you’ve been hard at work trying to come up with the next big idea to light up screens around the world with your message, you’re certainly not alone.
As the viral video field continues to evolve, we can expect trends to come and go. But the principles of what makes people care enough about an idea to pass it along will remain the same.
It’s important to remember that the concepts we’ve discussed here are meant to work together to support each other:
Remember, emotional videos also need useful information — and socially valuable ideas need great stories to bring them to life!
When in doubt, use the concepts we discussed today to take your video content to the next level and get more people talking about your brand.
That’s it for today, friends.
To your success!
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Content Solutions, a digital marketing agency. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.