Lessons From the Most Shared Viral Video Ads of 2013

Unruly Media tracks and ranks the videos that are most shared on social media, and I spent some time today taking a look at their list for 2013. Beyond the fact that lists like this are interesting, I wanted to see what these videos contained that made them shareable. While small businesses probably wouldn’t make the decision to fund a major video production, as these brands did, marketers can ask themselves what these videos contained that caused a viewer to hit that magical “share” button and spread the message.

1. Pranks are Popular.

Long a favorite of morning radio show hosts, pranks are now a solid genre for viral video ads. While many of us do not like being the victim of pranks, apparently we like watching other people fall prey to them.

This Pepsi ad uses celebrity race car driver Jeff Gordon to prank an unsuspecting car salesman.

And this telekinetic prank is used to promote a remake of “Carrie.”

One thing to note about both of those “prank” ads is that you need to let your viewers in on the prank. You don’t want a “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast-type hysteria on your hands.

2. Catch Phrases are Still King.

Do YOU know what day it is? It’s a perfect day to Ship My Pants. Geico and Kmart proved this year, with a camel, and some “almost” potty humor, that a funny catch phrase can still go far in the online world.

3. Dancing Babies are Still Funny.

I can’t explain it, but they are. Evian’s Baby & Me was a big hit this year:

4. At the End of the Day, Heartstrings Win Out

As of the writing of this blog post, Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches ad has gotten 60.5 million views. In fact, it’s not just the most shared viral video of the year, it’s the most shared video of all time. Like, ever. There are no special effects, no fancy production values, and there’s not a thing to laugh at. But this video has heart. It speaks to every one of us and connects on an emotional level.

I guess the best lesson here is to make ’em laugh, or make ’em cry, either way videos that connect with viewers get shared the most. Connection is the goal.

About Tom Harness

Tom Harness is the owner of Harness Digital Marketing, a digital marketing firm that works with businesses and organizations on Social Media, SEO, and Email Marketing. He is an entrepreneur and business owner with 20 years of combined experience in Education, IT, and Business. Tom is a U.S. Army Veteran and a Southern Illinois University alum. He also enjoys craft beers, his beloved Chicago Cubs, and his family.

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