ClickZ’s Sean Carton has come up with ‘10 Guidelines for Creating Great Social Media Content’.
Observing that “all” you have to do to make something go viral is “make it funny” or “focus on sports” is sort of like saying that “all” you have to do to become a famous standup comic is “get on stage” and “tell jokes.” Unfortunately for lots of would-be stand-up comics, it’s much more complicated than that…though the success of Larry The Cable Guy might be the exception that proves the rule.
If you’ve ever ventured into the wild world of viral media, you would know that creating successful viral content is tough. It’s not enough to create something that you think is funny…it has to appeal to enough people to get them to make the effort to pass it along to their friends. And that isn’t easy.
A Jupiter study from several years ago found that most viral media achieved a paltry 15 percent pass-along rate. Granted, the study is a few years old and came out before the explosion in social media over the past few years, but based on the detritus littering YouTube, it’s pretty obvious that making viral media that people pass around is really hard.
Sean Carton says there are 10 main characteristics we can pull out of the list that can serve as guidelines to creating great social media content:
1. Wow! Surprise us. Whether it’s the shock of seeing rollerskating babies (Live Young), mind-blowing new tech (Xbox Project Natal), pop stars as hot gladiators (Gladiator), an iPad getting ripped to shreds (Will it Blend), or even talking abs (Odor Blocker), great viral media shocks us with the unexpected.
2. Yowza! A cardinal rule of advertising is that sex sells. And many top videos use sex in one way or another to grab us and make us pay attention. There’s the obvious appeal of sexy singers grinding in skimpy gladiatorial garb (Gladiator) and the just as obvious appeal of handsome buff men talking to us from their showers (Responses, Odor Blocker). But it’s also hard to ignore a beautiful woman being made more beautiful (Evolution) or the raw sex appeal of hot cars (Gymkhana Two). Humor and sports are somewhat universal…sex touches everyone.
3. Pow! It also seems that destroying things touches all of us in some ways. Will It Blend is the obvious example (and it has got the views to prove it) and Gymkhana Two’s orgy of destruction makes it hard to look away. But even subtler (or campier) acts of destruction (Odor Blocker) or implied violence (the incongruous chain saw in the hand of the guy in the Responses spot) makes us keep watching.
4. Groove! Music, like sex, can be another way to broaden the appeal of a viral ad. While some spots have no music (Responses, Odor Blocker) and others use music for irony (Will it Blend), there’s no denying the power of well-known, catchy music to keep your audiences’ attention. Spots like Gladiator and particularly T-Mobile Dance show the power of great, universally-appealing music as a way to grab a hold of your attention and not let go.
5. Ooooh! Spots that include fantastic elements that astound us and stimulate our sense of wonder also work well. It can be of the “unh-uh…no he didn’t” variety (Will it Blend), the “holy schmoley!” variety (Project Natal), or the “hot da*n! That’s amazing!” variety demonstrated in the driving that’s the center of Gymkhana Two. Combine “astounding” with “babies” and you’ll pretty much always have a hit: just see “Live Young.”
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