Why videos go viral? via @Pulsar_Social #LDNSMC

Today is the day I went to my first London Social Media meetup, just to get the feel of the industry and meet some like-minded professionals (which I did, thanks for the welcome everyone!). The topic was not too bad either, given the fact that the Pulsar people delivered an interesting presentation on viral videos. They based their conclusions on data drawn from their digital listening platform and created so interesting patterns.

The Social Media Cafe – May edition was kindly hosted by Timberyard, who serve great Cappuccinos!

Why stuff goes viral

The presentation started pretty straight-forward. They studied the evolution of Captain Hatfield, Ryan Gosling’s cereal video, Dove, Gangnam style, the Turkish Taksim protests and other viral videos that went viral and searched for patterns. Used pulsar to track the URLs.

Apparently, there are two types of viral videos. A Spiker viral video gets 80% of its shares in the first 2 days, driven by a group of KOLs. However, the Grower viral videos, like the Dove one, gets its views slower, over a longer period of time. So even if your video doesn’t spike in the first few hours or days, there’s still hope.

The most share-able video was the Turkish protest one, thanks to the fact that it had a unique news item in it. It contained a lot of emotion and the interest for the topic was shared by a lot of people from all over the world.

Questions to consider: How long does it take for a video to peak? How long is it share-able? How constant is the spread, how volatile?

The Turkish and the Hatfield video went very fast (spikers), but Dove went slower (grower), with a more consistent momentum. The key question here was why that happened to both categories of videos. They looked at the fact that audiences influence the virality and found that there was no correlation between demographics and virality. But the connections and micro-networks had a big influence. Groups of people picked up the videos and shared them according to the type of audience within the group. The Turkish and Hatfield videos got inside groups & audiences with common connections, so people jumped on the sharing wagon more easily, but Dove entered a less connected group of networks with a more diverse audience, so its momentum was shaped in a more less ample way, which leads us to the next characteristic:

Modularity – how much is the group made up of subgroups/fragmented and how much is modular(political affiliation). That also influences the virality – Turkish videos were shared by a highly modular community. The Dove one was more fragmented, having to make more jumps. Look at trends and ride one. If you don’t, you have no chance of viralizing your content.

Hatfield Groups – 30, male, into tech – shared by influencers first
Dove Groups – a mixture of teen girls, marketing professional women, and Saudi Arabia women – very diverse crowd

They concluded that a high demographic diversity leads to slower movement of the video, due to the number of jumps the content material has to make from one community to another. In the end, you need a trigger and a validator, then you need community connectors and emotion – funny, sad, astonishing. No emotion, no virality.

Validation in a community is done by the tone of voice of the biggest community KOLs that put the video out there. They are the gatekeepers that push the content in their groups and apparently one can detect them through Pulsar and engage them in a targeted way.

All in all, it was a very interesting meeting, with loads of conversations afterwards regarding the future of social media, on how kids interact with it and how education has to evolve and encapsulate it in the teaching methodology.

Photos via @JamesBougourd and @Fcancerproject

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