Are you among the many of us hesitant to go the edutainment route when publishing our social video content? Despite the research confirming that even B2B audiences are seeking edutainment over information, many are nervous that “having fun” could hurt our image or exceed our budget.
In our countdown of the top 15 ways to make your videos go viral, we demonstrate some proven and “easy to apply” techniques to educate audiences in an entertaining way.
Follow these 3 tested techniques for applying “participation ” to your YouTube videos, and you will be well on your way towards engaging your audience. In fact, our study of the top viral YouTube videos demonstrated that the use of participation is the fifteenth most effective technique used by advertisers to boost their viral video statistics.
3 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Participation
One way to distract us from our task at hand is to get us to participate in a commercial or social video. Consider content that asks us how to solve a riddle or offer an opinion. Aren’t you at least curious to know whether you have the correct answer?
Research and the videos below demonstrate that audience are often entertained by a cognitive challenge or through conclusion curiosity. Though not as powerful as humor or performance entertainment, this technique is often the preferred choice of advertisers seeking to engage their audiences under a reasonable budget.
Among the most popular types of participation that perform best on YouTube are the following:
- Completing the Message
- Resolving the Problem
- Following a Script
Common to each method is a way to distract us with a mental motivation to finish the exercise. If successful, we can applaud our wits and talents at mastering the task. In the process, advertisers get us to ponder over the concept or follow the steps of mastery.
In so doing, they lay the trail that pulls us through their entire message. That is why this technique scores high on engagement. But advertisers face a tough challenge in their attempts to direct our cognitive efforts on a meaningful and well understood brand message.
Completing the Message
One of the simplest ways to capture our attention is to have us “fill in the blanks” or “answer a question.” In 1984, the catch phrase “Where’s the Beef?” made actress Clara Peller an overnight sensation much like the LeBron James’ infamous “What Should I Do?” added fuel to his notoriety. In both cases, we likely found ourselves attempting an answer of our own.
Another method invites us to recite or spell something correctly. By now, baby boomers likely know how to spell “R-O-L-A-I-D-S” or “O-S-C-A-R-M-A-Y-E-R.” The latter amassed nearly 1 million views on YouTube.
Similarly, advertisers could test your sports or mechanical acumen by having you “guess the winner” of a shoot-off. Gatorade capitalized on this technique when they featured a young vs. old Michael Jordan playing against each other.
Resolving the Problem
A more cognitively challenging method of getting audiences to participate is to have them solve a problem. This gaming technique often involves guessing who or guessing what is hanging in suspense.
The use of this technique as a way to engage audiences dates back to the 1950s & 60s. At the time, a show called “What’s My Line” hosted a guessing game in which four panelists attempted to determine the identity or occupation of a mystery guest. The show remained the longest-running U.S. prime-time network television game-show for decades.
In addition to guessing, audiences can be easily motivated to discover anomalies. Consider how often you find yourself correcting someone else’s mistakes or flaws. In the FedEx “Wrong” skit, we attempt to correct someone’s reference to “French Benefits.”
Similarly, the infamous Ally Bank’s “What Makes Peter, Peter?” has us incessantly correcting the interviewer’s misinterpretation of “I really love my bank’s ’Raise-Your-Rate’ CD” as he progresses from “You’d love a pay raise ASAP?” to “You spent eight days lost at sea?” to “You love watching your neighbors watch TV?”
A more subtle method of problem solving includes examination of irony or allegories. For example, a number of commercials feature statements that “go against the grain.” In Beck’s Ad “Different by Choice,” we cannot help but validate the actions of those daring to be different.
A similar reaction can be expected when we are presented with allegories or sarcasm that require our own interpretation. Both methods are effective in keeping our attention for as long as it takes to interpret the message.
Following a Script
A third way to attract and engage our audiences through participation is to get them to follow along some story-line. This technique also dates back to the 1950s and 60s when popular music icon Mitch Miller engaged families on television by having them sing along with his music note bouncing balls.
Many successful commercials deploy a similar scheme in their real time designs. Consider how UPS’s “Whiteboard” gets us to finish the drawing or how Absolut’s “Rasberri” commercial gets us to contribute to the bottle’s final design.
Whether it is through a catchy tune, a clever sketch or a final touch on a beautiful masterpiece, the goal here is to entice us to contribute something to the scripted message.
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 Research Conference.
From the final list of most viewed YouTube videos, about 3% involved some type of participation. This form of viral video engagement ranked number ninth, thirteenth and fifteenth 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 participation as an entertaining content marketing theme?
Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.