Last week, Social Media Week London played host to worldwide influencers on the social scene. Notably, what emerged this time around was the heavy onus on video content marketing, online video strategy, and in particular the psychology behind it. Why do videos go viral? What technical boosters can give a video that initial push into going viral? What inspires virality? Is virality an actual word? Web psychologist Nathalie Nahai and video strategist Phil Nottingham gave the key address at Social Media Week London, during which they shared their very simple equation in how to evoke an audience reaction – the key to creating video content. When creating a video, say to yourself:

“The purpose of this video is to [transitive verb] the audience into a [minimal viable conversion].”

So, this could be:

“The purpose of this video is to entertain and humour the audience into subscribing to my blog.”

With that simple strategy in mind here’s a rundown of their take-home messages.

1 – Customer insight drives shares

The most shareable brand videos are based on customer insights. Sounds obvious, but it’s so easily forgotten when you’re wrapped up in trying to be creative, and your customer pain points (not your product’s features) should be your number one source of inspiration. It’s basically a lesson in how best to repurpose user-generated content, by pressing that emotional trigger shared by your audience. The example they gave was American Greetings and Card Store’s #worldstoughestjob viral videos – a series of brand videos based on the ideal that people do not appreciate how tough a mother’s job can be. Which is a fairly easy sell.

2 – Amplify, then analyse

Publishing and distribution of videos content marketing is quite an art, and a few pointers emerged that can elevate your online video content. An initial push amplified by paid advertising in the first week is advisable, followed by a review of how your money was spent and whether that proved successful. After that, use of standard analytics should provide an easier-to-measure figure, given the benchmark set. Use of Twitter Cards to display your content and hosting your video content on a reliable third party service (such as Viddler, Vimeo Pro, or Brightcove) are also recommended.

3 – Video content SEO

SEO strategy and your online video strategy must go hand-in-hand. Addressing customer insight and interest feeds your SEO karma, but on the technical side video SEO addresses search engine psychology. A video sitemap (see link below) tells Google or a search engine bot about the presence of your videos and video-hosting pages will instruct it to index those pages as such. Taking steps to ensure that anyone embedding your video content links back to you also earns you extra SEO brownie points, as does including text transcriptions as copy on the page, which provides unique text-content which aids the user experience. For more information on building a sitemap for video content, visit Google Webmaster support here.

4 – Don’t duplicate, embed

Your video SEO will be eroded if you duplicate video content. Just as with duplicate content anywhere else, it’s confusing for a search engine bot to find the same content replicated on multiple pages, and so your ranking will diminish as a result. Host your video in one place; embed it in many.

5 – Address your audience personas

It’s a point about content marketing we advocate fully here at Southerly, and the same is true for video content – targeting your content starts with identifying your audience personas. When creating video content, take into account their age, gender, personality traits, country of origin or the peer group they belong to, and what their motivation for watching might be

6 – Using actors can damage trust

Don’t hire actors for a conversion video. Authenticity is more important than portraying professionalism. OK this might not always apply, but the theory is sound. The purpose of a conversion video is that someone will follow the call-to-action and convert at the end of it. You can’t make someone convert if they don’t trust in your brand, and using real people as genuine case studies, for example, has more power than hiring a set of gleaming teeth in a suit.

7 – Context is king

The sharing paradigm has shifted on content marketing, even since last year. According to Unruly, in 2014:

  • 18% of shares occur on day two (viral peak); compared with 10% last year.
  • 42% of shares happen in the first three days; compared with 25% last year.
  • 65% of shares happen in the first week; compared with 37% last year.

Context is king. Content is king, too, but content must be actively watched and shared to gain the traction that you want, and addressing the user’s journey is to give context to the video you’re presenting. The psychological process of conversion with video content echoes that of the content marketing funnel. The presenters reminded the audience that we share because we care. We want to communicate our identity and information. Users make a rational and emotional journey from being unaware of your brand, to being aware, into a phase of consideration and advocacy, and then converting. The way to follow this journey successfully and get your content shared is to Always Be Valuable. Video content can be the most mutually valuable content there is – to you and to your audience.