The Top 5 Viral Video Lessons GoPro Has Taught Us
There’s a large lion charging a man through tall grass. He’s not frightened, doesn’t take any steps back, and holds his ground. We see it as he does – from his perspective, except behind a screen. Another lion charges, jumps in his arms and knocks him down. The man is laughing, the lions don’t stop.
We watch, transfixed, expecting the worst to happen – it doesn’t. And as we continue to watch for another 15 minutes, we are all struck by the same critical question we all hold in our minds: “Is this guy crazy?”
GoPro’s video “GoPro: Lions – The New Endangered Species?” Features Kevin Richardson as he wrestles, nestles and meddles with lions and hyenas in South Africa. The video is part National Geographic documentary and part public service announcement (PSA) with a goal to generate awareness of these animals’ disappearing in their native habitat.
The 15 minute video is 30x longer than your average television spot is (at the time of this writing) trending at #11 on the Viral Video Global Ads Chart (last 30 days). As marketers we’ve always been told to keep videos under 5 minutes for virality – have the rules been rewritten? Perhaps, but let’s allow Devra Prywes of Unruly to help us analyze further.
Stats: GoPro’s “GoPro: Lions – The New Endangered Species?”
Launched November 20, 2013
Total Shares: 600,251
Analysis of GoPro’s Social Video Engagements March 2013-March 2014
Source: Unruly Analytics(™), tracking social sharing reactions (Facebook shares, likes and comments; Tweets and Blog shares)
Five key best practices in GoPro’s viral video strategy
1. GoPro is constantly creating and releasing online video, and often quite lengthy pieces. Having an always-on content strategy keeps a brand at the forefront of the conversation and creates an elevated baseline for social video share of voice. By having steady stream of content, and providing distribution support behind the stronger pieces, each new release will encourage sharing of recent releases and eke more value from the available content. The more content a brand has available and in the market, the harder that content works to deliver ROI.
2. GoPro does a great job in getting people to share their videos by eliciting strong psychological responses of exhilaration, knowledge, awe and warmth. Viewers feel these reactions with intensity – which drives sharing activity. We are moved to share because the video triggers the following social motivations: shared emotional experience (we share so our with our friends and family can have a similar reaction), shared passion (we think fellow animal lovers, people who love lions and African wildlife, and animal conservationists will enjoy this video), social good (this is where the PSA angle comes in handy to drive sharing – people love to share to promote a cause) and for social utility (viewers will send to people in the market for an adventure camera).
3. Most marketers would be worried about distributing an online video that is 14:42 long. But according to Prywes, it’s a myth that video needs to be short to be shared. So long as video content packs an emotional punch and elicits intense psychological responses and social motivations, run time does not affect sharing; as demonstrated by GoPro’s high 5.4% share rate (shares as a percentage of views).
4. Social video lives forever, and as zeitgeist events take place, video sharing can resurge. Note that “Lions – An Endangered Species?” was released around Thanksgiving last year, and is trending again in March. We often see additional paid media campaigns creating bumps in activity on the Viral Video Chart. “Lions” also benefitted from a zeitgeist bump, when National Geographic published information on the Lion Safari Project in February.
5. GoPro isn’t afraid to include their branding in their video. Research has shown that along with runtime, prevalence of branding has no correlation with shareability. Some of the most highly shared videos are heavily branded (e.g. check out Coca-Cola KO +0.81%’s videos – often with a big red vending machine). GoPro bookends their spot with the camera and logo, includes their name in the title of the video, and includes an overlay of their camera to make it very clear which company created the video for viewers to enjoy.
The Social Diffusion Curve
According to Prywes and Unruly, when distributing content, launch to a large base early. Their research demonstrates that 200 of the most shared videos has shown that success happens early in a campaign and that the first few days’ worth of shares are a percentage of the success of the overall campaign. The viral peak of a video occurs on day 2 after launch, and the video achieves 25% of its total shares within the first three days after launch. Therefore, a strong video launch will result in both short-term and long-term success.