I must admit, I haven’t always been the most avid online video watcher. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them; I’ve just always been more of a reader or one to scroll through pictures. This isn’t to say I never watch videos or share them; I just only share the really funny ones, or videos that make a lasting impression.
This got me thinking; what do the most shared videos have in common and what elements of these videos resonate with the most people?
Let’s watch seven of the most shared videos of 2013 (so far), according to Viral Video Chart, powered by Unruly, to see the common elements that made them highly shared within the online community.
1. Dove Real Beauty Sketches
With 124,837,162 views and 4,205,803 shares through Facebook, Twitter and blog posts, this video tops the list as the most shared of the year.
2. baby & me / the new evian film
Of its 64,588,435 views, this video was shared 3,285,465 times since being discovered on April 19, 2013.
3. Kmart’s Ship My Pants
Viewed 29,583,384 times and shared 3,036,494 times, this ingenious commercial is the third most shared video of the year (to date).
4. Budweiser’s Super Bowl Ad 2013 – The Clydesdales Brotherhood
Boasting 15,392,524 views and 2,719,395 shares, this commercial debuted during the 2013 Super Bowl.
5. Pepsi MAX & Jeff Gordon Present: “Test Drive”
With 44,194,134 online views and 2,680,407 shares, Jeff Gordon took this car salesman on the ride of his life.
6. Official Ram Trucks’ Super Bowl Commercial “Farmer”
Viewed 20,509,202 times online, this touching Super Bowl 2013 ad was shared 1,873,236 times.
7. Harlem Shake Miami HEAT Edition
Their take on a popular internet meme, the Miami Heat’s Harlem Shake video was viewed 46,683,280 times and shared 1,653,403 times since March 1, 2013.
Common elements of the most shared videos of the year
After watching and analyzing these videos, three common elements stood out. These elements were apparent throughout all of the videos, with some being more obvious than the others.
As you watched each video, it made you feel something. Whether you found the Dove commercial to be inspirational, Kmart’s commercial to be hilarious or the Ram Trucks’ Super Bowl commercial to be touching, each video evoked some sort of emotion, which is what makes them highly shareable.
Think about the last video you shared. Did you share it because it was so touching you wanted all of your followers to feel what you felt? Or did you share it because you couldn’t stop watching it because it was just that funny?
Without stirring sentiment, the probability of your video being shared is unlikely. It doesn’t matter if you’re tugging on the heartstrings or if you want people to fall off their chairs in a fit of laughter, the key to a highly shared video is to make people feel.
Tells a story
Each of these videos tells us a story of someone or something. Although some of the stories are more abstract, like the Evian babies and the Miami Heat’s Harlem Shake, from the beginning to the end, we are taken on a journey.
The Pepsi Max and Budweiser commercials do an exceptional job of telling a story. Where the Pepsi Max commercial takes us through a celebrity prank, the Budweiser spot shows us the special bond between a horse and its owner, even after years of separation.
People enjoy stories, especially visual stories; we love to listen, watch and connect with others.
Creates brand awareness
Instead of traditional, in-your-face marketing, the most shared videos of the year are effective in creating brand awareness through telling stories and evoking emotion. While it’s clear these brands are trying to sell something, from water to beer, beauty products and sporting event tickets, they do it subtly.
These videos focus less on selling and more on creating a culture around the brand. They want people to identify with their brand first, and then because of their loyalty and awareness, they want people to buy their products.
Take the Ram Truck’s commercial, Ram has clearly identified their target audience as farmers and speaks directly to them. Not in a way to say every farmer needs a Ram, but more as an acknowledgement to their constant hard work and dedication to their choice of livelihood. Of course, the Ram is present in the commercial, but more as a symbol of its resilience and strength, just like the farmers.
With more than 100 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube each minute, it’s certainly an uphill battle to have a video go viral. However, it’s not impossible. Unquestionably some of the more popular brands, I am inclined to think that regardless of the brand, these videos would have been found and shared because of the content and the impact they left.