In 2013, the stand-out champion in the race to create the most viral part of branded content was Dove, with its three-minute Real Beauty Sketches film.
Of which is according to Visible Measures, a US-based company that tracks the web performance of branded videos and collects metrics about how audiences participate with them and promote them with others.
By past due December 2013, when Noticeable Measures’ analysts sat right down to compile their set of the year’s top 10 virus-like videos, Real Beauty Sketches had scored almost 136m views since its mid-April launch online.
The motion picture, which shows FBI-trained forensic artist Gil Zamora drawing portraits of ladies from their own descriptions, and from the descriptions of other people, plainly struck a chord with global audiences who recognised that, as it pertains to personal appearance, women are often their own most detrimental critics.
Second place visited Turkish Airlines, with The Selfie Shootout, which represented sports stars Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi sending the other person self-portraits from a variety of exotic locations to which the flight flies. Third and fourth places, meanwhile, visited Volvo Trucks (with the Legendary Split ad, featuring Jean-Claude van Damme) and Search engines (with its Chrome Regarding campaign).
So what is the big secret that these brands share? Just what does it take for a piece of content to go viral?
The particular fact is that there is no easy answer to those questions, says James Whatley, social mass media director at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising London, part of the international advertising, advertising public relations huge that created Dove’s Genuine Beauty Sketches.
“You may as well read an instruction manual about how to win the lottery, inches he says. “Yes, you might pick up a few tips, but any major success will be solely accidental. ”
Generating the greatest content is a good start, of course , and promoting that content should be the next step.
“Viral hits trip the zeitgeist, they get the imagination, ” states Whatley – nonetheless they also “have significant investment at the rear of them to ensure that enough eyes turn into enough clicks and enough shares. ”
In other words, Real Beauty Paintings did not succeed on emotional resonance alone. It absolutely was also backed up by a rock-solid media planning, distribution and public relations strategy.
At top digital agencies Tribal Worldwide London, head of strategy Allan Blair is inclined to agree. “It’s rare that content (especially branded content) gets grip without a huge media spend behind it, or at least a big amount of money to kickstart initial interest, ” he says
Understanding that, smaller brands with more limited budgets should perhaps define “viral” on their own terms.
“Big budget campaigns by big brands achieve big results, certainly – but that’s not achievable for each business, inches says Kate Cooper, handling director at social press agency Bloom Worldwide. No brand should be putting together online content purely with the goal of “going viral” whatever the case, she claims. “It’s too hit and miss. ”
Instead, the aim should be powerful, timely storytelling that gets to as wide an audience as you possibly can, she says, and this can be provided by smaller pieces of “micro content” – such as videos, photos, forms, games and quizzes – that do not cost as much to make and can therefore be produced at greater volume level.
Take, for example, Dollar Shave Club, a US-based start-up that gives razor blades to customers on a subscription basis: it first made waves with a low-budget comedic start video that quickly went viral online back in March 2012 and was the speak of that year’s SXSW technology conference in Austin tx, Texas. Later that 12 months, the fledgling company pinned down almost $10m (? 6m) in venture money funding therefore of the attention – and increased sales – its video clip had attracted.
For more established brands, an existing network of fans and followers on social media networks such as Myspace and Twitter can be powerful, as can links with the blogger community. After all, it is the people already loyal to a brand that are more likely to discuss branded content with their own friends, followers and readers.
Micro content typically takes three forms, says Cooper:
– Planned content around a specific event, such as Valentine’s Day or a large sporting fixture.
– Real-time content, which is more spontaneous and trend-driven developed in response to an event or issue being talked about online. “You may only have a matter of hours to turn content around but, if you can capture the moment, you can achieve real and rapid traction, ” she says.
– User-generated content: brands can often build convincing campaigns around the content produced by buyers, such as Instagram photographs of a favourite outfit or recommended holiday destination.
The easy rule is this: no brand should be intimidated by the megabucks costs and sky-high production values of big-brand viral promotions. There is still huge value to be gained from more modest tries to engage with online audiences, as long as they’re timely, relevant and compelling