January 17, 2016


Some stories are better than others, of course. And some videos are more viral than others. But what makes the difference? Media experts around the globe try to crack the code "how to become viral". We know it´s a matter of timing (the first 3 days are key!) and a matter of communities (find the "Super Sharers", who are responsible for 80% of shares. 9 % of all internetuser share a video everyday. Go straight to this folks!). But all overall it´s a matter of the story (ok, or call it "content") and the feelings and emotions which come with this story.

Emotional Creative Brief
Have you ever gotten a Creative Brief which was precise and specific about the emotions a marketing or corporate story should address? I can not recall a single one. Most Client Briefings are clear and in detail about key messages and product benefits but vague when it comes to feelings and emotions. Marketing and Corporate Comms Managers as well as spokespeople started their career to inform customers and key audiences about their corporations, brands and products. They don´t see their job in getting people to laugh or move them to tears. 

But that´s where a story really gets interesting - and successful. Have a look into the a story made by doog food brand Purina called "Puppyhood" - produced by Buzzfeed, which got 5 Million downloads in six weeks in May 2015. The ad tech company Unruly analized data of 430 Billion views and 100.000 users to understand why this story became such a hype. 

Stop: First you have to watch it: Puppyhood.
Cute? Absolutely. But it´s more than just "Cute". Unruly got feedback from the audience on more than just one emotion. They found a minimum of 4 different emotions: Heartiness (58%), happiness (56%), hilariousness (31%) and surprise (10%). 

Key Learning
it´s not only one emotion why an audience sticks on a story. Its the mix which attracts us. A successful viral video is an emotional roller coaster with ups and downs - a speed dating platform with different kind of emotions. And thats also the reason why the structure of a online video is quite different to Aristotle´s classic triangular and Gustav Freytag´s drama structure of 5 acts. Great videos do have a exposition like every story, but they kick off super quick - in 2 to 3 seconds and string together a couple of story highlights before everything comes to a surprising twist at the end. 

Images from Petra Sammer "Storytelling", O´Reilly, 2014.