Red Bull and Go-Pro have both achieved huge viewer numbers. But how have they done it? Read on to find out more.
Writing hilarious scripts, interesting content, shareable mother-baiting baby videos or documenting high-octane stunts is a little bit more difficult than some brands make it seem. What I’ll show you in this post is how two brand masters of viral create successful video after successful video. Then I’ll be offering a few statistics so that you can plan your own viral marketing video – this later content will actually feature in a long-form whitepaper that we are currently in the process of writing.
Go-Pro’s YouTube strategy
In a recent post Econsultancy laid out Go-Pro’s strategy for video distribution using the world’s number one video distribution platform, YouTube. The salient points centre on Go-Pro’s large and swelling YouTube subscriber base. Currently standing at 1,846,512 subscribers across 4 channels it is an important distribution point for Go-Pro to get their videos out there, increasing the chance of their video content shooting into viral orbit.
The question is asked, how do they do it? The answer comes back as a two-forked prong: on the one prong, engaging, exhilarating content that interests and captivates the viewer, forcing her onto the very edge of the seat as if she were to take off herself. This prong massively increases the chance of sharing the video and therefore driving further views. The second prong, the prong most easily missed and dismissed, is the prong of audience engagement; Go-Pro actively participate in YouTube comments, answering questions, driving discussion and posting further links to other content. This strategy, Econsultancy tell us, increases their subscriber base. The simple formula, they say, is ‘REGULAR CONTENT + ENGAGEMENT = SUBSCRIBERS’.
For Go-Pro, this formula seems not only natural, but very powerful.
GoPro HERO3: Almost as Epic as the HERO3+
Red Bull’s content strategy has wings
For Red Bull, strategy lies in brand awareness. Exposing the brand to as wide an audience as possible increases people buying the product, as well as opening up avenues for further product lines – such as media content, like films or documentaries.
Dietrich Mateschitz, the creator of Red Bull, expresses the Red Bull attitude towards content marketing as so:[as] a major content provider, it is our goal to communicate and distribute the ‘World of Red Bull’ in all major media segments, from TV to print to new media to our music record label.
It’s all about maximum penetration in areas linked to the products focus for the Red Bull drink, which is “about improving endurance, concentration, reaction time, speed, vigilance, and emotional status.” Therefore the strategy focuses on that, targeting young males, thrill-seekers, extreme sports fans and other related demographics. In doing so, Red Bull’s content is about “making content that its audience will want to see”. Interestingly, and this will be something I focus on later, it includes figuring out “how to remove as much branding as possible.”
This last phrase is key. Red Bull’s marketing strategists believe that removing branding accelerates, or at least does not inhibit, the virality of their content. It’s an interesting assumption and plays on some contrary research we have found. Whatever the reality though, one can’t deny the virality of Red Bull video content. Their highest viewed video is the dramatic Felix Baumgartner Stratos jump, which currently has 36,124,210 views. Wow!
Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall from 128k’ – Mission Highlights
The science behind viral video
The science behind viral video
Looking at the two brands simultaneously, we can see similarities in their approach. Both have large YouTube subscriber bases, both use exciting, thrilling and electrifying live-action content to appeal to audiences and both reduce branding to a minimum. How does this fit in with what we know about the way audiences respond to video?
Using data from Karen Nelson-Field’s The Science of Sharing we can see the right and wrong of their approach. First, let’s focus on the creative aspects of their video. According to Nelson-Field, the best way to engage audiences is to use high-arousal, positive valence content – to you and me that means a complete LOLocaust of a video. But actually, exhilarating, edge-of-your-seat content works even better. Ever notice all those people posting high-octane, insane videos of people flying in-between natural gaps carved out of mountain sides – well, that’d be because us humans absolutely love danger, especially if we can watch at a distance.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the major stumbling block for brands to get traction on their video is poor distribution channels – Red Bull and Go-Pro have this in abundance. A large distribution channel means a greater chance to improve the reach of your content. And if they’re subscribers as well, they’re probably more likely to share this content, improving on what’s called the ‘reproduction rate’ of content. For more information on reproduction rate look at Duncan Watt’s superb Viral Marketing for the Real World.
In terms of the previous two aspects of virality, Red Bull and Go-Pro seem to be doing it right. But Nelson-Field does take umbrage with one particular view – that online advertising is somehow different to TV advertising, and therefore, that branding does not have to appear, either at all, or very little. According to Nelson-Field there is no data to show any difference between the two mediums whatsoever. A viewer will consume, share and engage with the video in exactly the same way.
How do you tap into that knowledge?
So, what can you do to increase the chances of your content going viral? The best suggestion is to start by making video content; make it interesting, funny, engaging, anything really – just remember that you’re making it for an audience and not for yourselves. The best type of viral content focuses on similar things to Red Bull and Go-Pro (crazy exciting videos), or genuinely hilarious videos. Creative devices like babies or cats generally make little difference, so really it’s about making your story appealing in an hilarious, exciting, amazing kind of way.
Viral marketing is part of what we do here at Tanglewood, so if you want your video content to be seen from space take a look our viral platform V-AMP. We can’t promise that you’ll be the next Red Bull but we’d love to throw you from a helium balloon in the name of 36 Million views.
For more talk on viral, video marketing or VSEO be sure to join us at this blog, you can add it as a RSS feed here, or connect with us on Twitter here. If you’d like to speak about your viral videos email in for a direct response.