You Are What You Share: Why Videos Go Viral
For more on how to go viral, don't miss Gary's session on the All About Direct Marketing Virtual Conference, on May 4! Click here to register.
What makes a video go viral? Is it because it includes kids, kittens or puppies? Or is it because there’s something much deeper? If you want your articles or videos to be shared, you must understand why and how your content will reflect on the individual sharing it.
Why Shares Go Viral
Neuroscience and other research studies suggest that for a video to go viral, there are several deep-seated ingredients that must come together.
A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania neuroscience research lab team recorded brain activity from participants about how they reacted to New York Times health articles. Brain activity suggests that people have a two-part process to decide what to share on social media, and it all points to how shared articles or videos shape their identity:
- Social relationships: How sharing an article or video will reflect on you
- Developing self-image: Will friends be interested in the article or video?
In other words, people share things that they believe will improve their relationships, make them appear smart or, in one way or another, look favorable.
You Are What You Share
The deep dive, on a simple sharing impulse, is that your brain looks for information to share with others. It’s how we’re wired. Additional reasons for shares:
- To express who we really are
- To convey a sense of our ideal self and aspirations
- To nurture relationships
In a New York Times study titled “The Psychology of Sharing: Why Do People Share Online?” six sharing personality types where described:
- Altruists: Motivated to bring valuable content to those they care about
- Careerists: Focused on developing a strong network of personal and professional contacts.
- Hipsters: They like to start a conversation, debate or controversy. They are always looking to connect with like-minded people.
- Boomerangs: Motivated primarily by reactions; they like to start a debate and generate comments.
- Connectors: For them, they share mutual experiences and including others.
- Selectives: Shares information they feel will be of value to a specific person.
This same study found that 68 percent share to define themselves. Eighty-four percent share to support causes or brands that they care about.
In other words, you are what you share. You share to express who you are, deep inside.
Last November, I had the unexpected good fortune of being involved with a video that went viral and was viewed 8.5 million times. The video live stream was of the Vocal Majority chorus singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as a tribute upon learning of his passing. Cohen was a great singer, songwriter, musician, poet, novelist and painter with fans worldwide. The decision to sing on a live stream wasn’t preplanned, but rather, made in the moment during a VM rehearsal. You can read my column about that experience here.
The viral effect for this video was magnified because it was shared by 188,000 people. With an average of 338 friends per Facebook user, the sharing of this video put it in front of potentially 63 million people.
Where to Learn More
While creating viral content — articles or videos — is often good luck and good timing, the fact is that when you understand why people share content, you can better position yourself for that good fortune.
During the All About Direct Marketing Virtual Conference on May 4, I will present 10 Ingredients for Your Video to Go Viral. During this session, you better understand the neuroscience behind why people share content. Additionally, I’ll discuss the case study of the Vocal Majority viral video and you’ll better understand of how you can set yourself up for success in case the unexpected good fortune of a viral video happens to you. Register for the All About Direct Marketing Virtual Conference here.
Gary Hennerberg latest book is “Crack the Customer Mind Code: Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!,” available from the DirectMarketingIQ Bookstore. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways, and access to Gary’s videos where he presents them, go to CustomerMindCode.com.
Reinventing Direct is for the direct marketer seeking guidance in the evolving world of online marketing. Gary Hennerberg is a mind code marketing strategist, based on the template from his new book, "Crack the Customer Mind Code." He is recognized as a leading direct marketing consultant and copywriter. He weaves in how to identify a unique selling proposition to position, or reposition, products and services using online and offline marketing approaches, and copywriting sales techniques. He is sought-after for his integration of direct mail, catalogs, email marketing, websites, content marketing, search marketing, retargeting and more. His identification of USPs and copywriting for clients has resulted in sales increases of 15 percent, 35 percent, and even as high as 60 percent. Today he integrates both online and offline media strategies, and proven copywriting techniques, to get clients results. Email him or follow Gary on LinkedIn. Co-authoring this blog is Perry Alexander of ACM Initiatives. Follow Perry on LinkedIn.