Unruly Labs, The Science of Sharing and the Crucial Need for Crowd Pleasing Emotion

Advertising creatives love the new. We love irony, offbeat humor and unexpected tones in our entertainment choices. Unfortunately, that can be the exact opposite of what it takes to make the work we create shared across the internet.

A couple of weeks ago, the statistic eggheads at Unruly Labs released a white paper regarding shareability of online video. It can be tough sledding plowing through twenty pages peppered with all sorts of charts and statements like “The psychological response of hilarity can be incredibly effective when done well or combined with another trigger“, but their findings about the viral response to last year’s Super Bowl commercials are well worth reviewing and, well, sharing.

Five of their most interesting points?

  1. You have to commit. If your work doesn’t make viewers feel strongly or give them reasons to share, nothing will happen. Ads simply must trigger a powerful emotional response like Surprise, Warmth, Happiness or Pride if they aim to be shared. If you’re middle of the road you’ll get stuck in traffic.
  2. Viral sharing maxes quickly. The peak happens two to three days after a video launches, so creating critical mass quickly is key. To get trends started, you have to reach the right audience fast, which would encourage front-loading your media.
  3.  Hit them on Hump Day. Launching content on a Wednesday takes advantage of the maximum sharing days at the end of the work week when 48% of weekly shares happen. Sharing really drops on weekends.
  4. Choose your audience and speak directly to them. The trailer for  Fast and Furious 6 might not have resonated with everybody, but young guys loved it and passed it around. A lot.
  5. People need a reason to share. Unruly calls these social motivations and lists things like “Shared Passion”, “Social Utility” and “Reaction Seeking.” The same things that drive conversation in real life power community sharing on line.

Shareworthy content matters more than ever today. Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey from last year shows consumer trust in traditional advertising has dropped 23% since 2009. It also showed that 95% of consumers trust recommendations from peers. So getting content into the hands of people who will share it, and thus advocate it, is critical.

By the way, the spot that won the shareability battle on the Superbowl? Budweiser’s “Brotherhood”–a slow moving, emotional Clydesdale-centered tale of separation and reunion. And nary a “psychological response of hilarity” in sight.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

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