Are you hesitant to provide entertaining content for fear of falling flat? In our countdown of the top ways to make your videos go viral, we demonstrate a wide range of humorous and other entertainment techniques that have stood the test of time.
In fact, if you follow these 5 tested techniques for applying “malicious joy” to your YouTube videos, you can be assured of boosting audience engagement with your content. The use of malicious joy comes in at number 8 on our top 10 ways to make your content funny.
5 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Malicious Joy
Malicious joy, or schadenfreude, refers to the pleasure we derive from seeing others fail or suffer misfortune. Rooted in the Theory of Superiority, this feeling of sudden glory can occur when we witness:
- Bungled Behaviors
- Unanticipated Spoilers
- Unfortunate Happenstances
- Deserved Repercussions
A common approach for entertaining audiences with malicious joy is to poke fun of someone notorious for clumsy or incompetent behaviors. The 1950’s sitcom, “I Love Lucy,” reached the highest popularity of any show at its time based on the bungling behaviors of Lucy. The naive and accident prone housewife had a knack for getting herself and her husband into trouble whenever she tried to make a name for herself.
In the following film clips, we see several viral YouTube videos based on characters prone to accidents or saying the wrong thing. This is often displayed through the eyes of someone drunk or oblivious to their surroundings.
Men, in particular, are often portrayed for their bungled behaviors resulting from their one track minds. Consider how we laugh when women make futile attempts to attract their husband’s attention when engrossed in their games or jobs. We are likely laughing at the husband’s obsessions and oblivion as well as the wife’s futile attempts to get their attention.
Another successful way to get laughter from malicious joy is through the portrayal of spoilers. For example, many of us laugh when witnessing the spoiling of romance. Just when the mood is set, attempts at seduction are foiled by some unexpected event.
The videos below show similar results in views and engagement when a storyline ends with unexpected damage, injuries or danger. This cause of laughter taps more into our emotional senses where a feeling of superiority is felt over those whose peace or excitement is snatched away.
Our third technique used in malicious joy relates to bad luck. Shamefully, many of us laugh when others get dealt a bad hand. Most of us enjoy watching someone knocked down a notch when an unwise choice is based on attempts at heroism or chivalry.
The same type of thrill emerges from bad timing such as when someone interrupts our concentration at the worst time or when the next person in line wins the grand prize.
We also delight in the misfortune of those exhibiting naïveté or simply keeping their eye off the ball. Especially when foolish mistakes result in catastrophic consequences, we often laugh hysterically at choices we know we are capable of committing ourselves.
Perhaps even more than bad luck or unexpected spoilers is the laughter resulting from well-deserved retaliation. This often happens when the actions of a featured villain backfire. In a similar vein, we laugh at paybacks against someone we despise or who is unveiled of their devious intentions.
Doritos did this very well in their commercial of a baby snatching the bag of chips from an annoying older sibling who incessantly teased the toddler. The payback results in our own feeling of sudden glory that we experience when living vicariously through the underdog.
On the lighter side, some sponsors use innocent repercussions to highlight the misfortunes of someone overzealous or careless. Though not as deserving as the villainous victim of a backfire, we still relish the thought of witnessing the aftermath of someone drinking too much or short cutting their path to success.
Our final category of malicious joy relates to the casting of cretins whose low class demeanor elevates our own status. For centuries, comedies of imbeciles, derelicts, the grotesque and the deformed have aroused fits of laughter from audiences.
A number of sponsors have obtained high scores in views and engagement from the portrayal of people seen as physically deformed (e.g., 700 lb. sumo wrestler). Similar results, however, can be achieved when portraying folks as mentally subnormal (e.g., derelicts).
Both Geico and FedEx capitalized on cretin sneering in their casting of Neanderthals in modern settings.
Vonage chose a similar tactic by casting airheads and derelicts in both their “People do Stupid Things” and “Chief Generosity Officer” campaigns.
A total of 3351 high performing videos (> 50K views) were examined in this ranking of top YouTube videos. These viral videos included re-casted television commercials that were posted on YouTube as a social media video back channel. Statistics were then recorded on the number of likes, dislikes, comments and views, where an exploratory study was subsequently published with the Academy of Marketing Science and 2013 Cross-Cultural Conference.
From the final list of most viewed YouTube videos, about 5% involved some type of malicious joy. This form of viral video engagement ranked number eleven, nine and eight in average views, comments as % of views, and net likes as % of views, respectively.
So what do you think? Is this an effective way to go? Have you ever resorted to using malicious joy as an entertaining content marketing theme?
Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.