The Art & Science of Viral Content

The question, “what makes content go viral” is frequently bandied around in marketing. And it’s one we’re getting much better at answering. A mixture of experience and data has moved the industry forward, and virility is no longer a question of ‘luck’. Overall brand content video sharing is up 22% this year. And it’s because we’re getting better at understanding the art & the science.

Two players in the shareable content world have spoken up on their thoughts in the last two weeks, so we thought we’d give an overview. The first is Buzzfeed, a general human-first interpretation. The second is Unruly, a company focused more on data & distribution. It’s useful to put the two side by side.

When Buzzfeed take the stage as they did at the Social Media Masters Summit recently, most people sit up and listen. They’re no mugs. They delivered 8 key thoughts.

The first, was make content you yourself would be proud to share. Simple point, but important test. Second was to not underestimate the power of cuteness. Basically, cute animals. They’re dynamite. Third, humour is social – aim for the funny bone. This came with a caveat, unfunny brands shouldn’t try to be funny. Unruly have even sterner opinions on that, which we’ll come to…

Fourth, nostalgia. #TBT has shown that everyone, irrespective of age, has a penchant for the past. Use this. Fifth is an appeal to have heart, by which they mean, everyone works hard: make their day nicer, better, funnier.

Sixth, appeal to people’s sense of identity. They point to the success of posts such as “What Londoners say Vs What they mean”. Seventh, capture the moment. It’s obvious: reflect the zeitgeist. And lastly, eighth, be yourself: audiences know if you’re faking it.

All this is true and important – but there’s a lot more to making something viral. Unruly’s recent white paper, a study into the 2014 Super Bowl ads, illustrates the new strategic approach well.

Unruly identify how the content must embody two crucial elements. The first is picking a desired, intense psychological response – and working it to the max. There can be more than one psychological response – but at least one must be truly intense. Intense enough to elicit a physical response: laughter, goosebumps, tears. The most successful of the 2014 Super Bowl ads focused on pride, warmth, happiness, inspiration and awe. Humour can be incredibly effective – but it is incredibly tough to do well. At the Super Bowl most aimed for humour, and most missed the mark. Only genuinely hilarious videos won shares. Anything less than ‘hilarious’ simply wasn’t enough. One key myth to bust is that ‘funny’ is key to viral. The strongest ads from 2014 used warmth and happiness as their key triggers – generating stronger psychological responses from viewers.

The second crucial element is the strength of social motivations. This important metric is what encourages the viewer to execute a sharing behaviour. Weak share motivations impact sharing behaviour. The top videos from the Super Bowl inspired sharing through some Social Good, Shared Passions, Opinion Seeking or Self Expression. Marketers must focus on shareability as a key metric, because those who share a video are 50x more likely to trigger a purchase in their circles than a lower impact recommendation, such as a TV ad. Social recommendations also increase brand recall by 7%.

And distribution is key. Speed and scale can determine success. The video player, the size and composition of the distribution network, plus the timing of the campaign launch and flight all contrive to provide the correct environment for shares. It’s an environment that can entirely morph over a couple of days: getting it right is crucial.

Creating viral content is no longer about luck, it is a calculated collusion of data, strategy, insight and creativity. But you still have to get it right. 

Posted June 6th, 2014 by talkpr

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Bauer’s DEBRIEF: Reimagined Media

 In 2014, if you were planning to build a socially integrated, mobile ready, content driven site targeting influential ABC1 20-something female audience, it’s likely you’d end up with something like ‘The Debrief’.

Initially dubbed ‘BuzzFeed for girls’, Bauer’s latest site has been engineered as a one-stop content shop. Its themes of People, Life, Getting Ready, Sex and In/Out are familiar, its visual content appealing, its editorial risqué. But a one-stop shop, it is not designed to be. Pervasive, is a better description. Rather than hoping people will drop by the site, its content flows out into all major social networks, rushing to meet readers wherever they are, on whatever device, in whatever medium.

The Debrief is just the latest website created by large media companies tuning into the trend of ‘content created for sharing’ via social media on mobile devices. Last summer Stylist publisher Shortlist Media launched Never Underdressed – an app which competes with glossy magazines including Elle and Vogue.

Media Companies are acknowledging that top-down publishing has limitations – they must look at how & what consumers want, and build from the bottom up. And it’s a healthy exercise for any brand in 2014: if you deconstructed the existing business model, and reimagined it being built anew today, would it look the same?

Posted February 17th, 2014 by talkpr

Dylan Jones’ Suprise OBE Party

On Friday 24th January, a celebration was held in honour of Dylan Jones, editor of GQ and Chairman of London Collections: Men who was awarded an OBE for services to the British fashion industry. With thanks to Annabel’s and Moet & Chandon.

Dylan Jones OBE (Editor, GQ)

Justine Simons (Head of Culture, Mayor of London) & Jane Boardman (CEO, Talk PR)

Posted February 4th, 2014 by talkpr

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Not Just the Content: Delivery is Key

Digital can add a powerful dimension when enhancing existing behaviours in the physical world, and that’s what we liked about this latest idea from The Guardian.

The general trend in recent years has been towards short-form news, so many readers miss out on quality analysis in bypassing longer articles. To arrest this behaviour The Guardian has launched a print-on-demand newspaper, called The Long Good Read. It uses the Guardian’s API and website analytics to pick out leading online articles, to create a bespoke offline paper with only the richest long-form content. Understanding the importance of picking the time & place, this streamlined paper is freely available at #guardiancoffee, their pop-up coffee shop in Shoreditch’s Box Park – where people have just that little longer to sit back, and engage.

Another newspaper, The Times, has announced its own improved delivery of business content, through a partnership with the business banking arm of Santander. The move will see 10 eight-page business editions over the next 18 months, along with an online networking hub, and is backed by infamous dragon James Caan.

Content may be king, but effective content delivery, is kingmaker.

Posted November 19th, 2013 by talkpr

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Griffin Technology’s Pop-Up Press Office

September saw Talk PR host the Griffin Technology pop-up diner in Soho to celebrate the release of the new iPhone 5s and 5c. With iPhone cases now a must-have accessory, we thought we’d showcase Griffin’s wide range while supplying London’s journalists with a much needed breakfast in the midst of Apple-mania.

Journalists from Good Housekeeping to Men’s Health and from T3 to Time Out popped in for a sneak preview of Griffin’s Christmas collection, making the most of a chance to recharge their phones (and minds) with Griffin’s latest accessories and a vital cup of coffee.

Posted November 18th, 2013 by talkpr

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P&G recognises Talk PR as a top performing partner across its global supply network

Talk PR has been recognised by The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) as a top performing partner across its global supply network, for our work on Dolce&Gabbana Beauty and James Bond 007 Fragrance. P&G recognised its top performing external business partners during an award ceremony on 23rd October at its annual External Business Partner Recognition Dinner in Cincinnati. The ceremony brought together senior executives from P&G and nearly 80 of P&G’s most strategic external business partners from around the world. Among P&G’s 82,000 global suppliers and agencies, just 0.1% received the coveted 2013 External Business Partner Excellence Award, so we’re honoured to be among the elite group of companies to have received this distinction.

The External Business Partner Excellence Award recognises superior and sustained levels of quality, service, operation, innovation, and competitiveness. This award was given to 77 of P&G’s 82,000 suppliers and agencies.

Click here to read the official press release for more information.

Posted November 10th, 2013 by talkpr

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Biscuit of the Month

This November we’ll be indulging ourselves with Fox’s Viennese Chocolate Melts, thanks to Chanice Green!

Posted November 4th, 2013 by talkpr


Talk PR Open Day

Last Thursday we hosted another 12 aspiring PRs at Talk Towers for our tenth Open Day since setting up our Talk Talent initiative in 2011. The attendees experienced a day of talks & interactive sessions that answered questions about the PR world, its role and the skills required to thrive within it.

We were excited to welcome Bespoke Banter founder Scott Wimsett as our guest speaker. Coming from an agency that designs, produces and distributes creative and engaging video content for some of the world’s largest fashion, beauty and luxury brands, Scott was well placed to discuss ‘the evolution of PR’ – what the essential skills are now, the blurred lines between PR & social media, the power of video in the industry today and the importance of creating compelling storytelling content.

Thank you to everyone who came along on the day and applied. The feedback we received was fantastic as always, and we’ve shared some of the highlights:

“I was looking forward to the day immensely and it surpassed all expectations! I learnt so much about consumer PR and left feeling assured and confident that this is an industry in which I wish to pursue a career.”

“I had an amazing day and I learnt some really valuable things, which were extremely helpful and informative! Talk PR seems like a fantastic company to work for and I’m so grateful I got a chance to spend the day there!”

“It was really interesting, and fun to see you how you work at Talk PR, and I really enjoyed learning more about the industry, it made me even more sure that I want to go into PR when I graduate.”

“I got some great advice chatting to some of the girls about their careers and I really appreciated the time taken to welcome us all in and teach us about the company.”

What they were saying on Twitter:

@LeahSsinclair: Thank you for such a great day @talkpr learnt so much!

@mayasol15: Thanks @talkpr for such an amazing day! Learnt so much and met really exciting people!! X

@michaela_LDN: Great introduction into consumer PR from Jenny @talkpr #TalkPROpenDay

If you’re interested in applying for one of our future Open Days, keep an eye on our website and follow us on Twitter @talkpr for updates on our 2014 dates…

Posted October 20th, 2013 by talkpr

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#SMWLDN – The Impact & Future of Social Media in Men’s Fashion

This year’s Social Media Week saw an incredible line up of social media related events take place across London. We headed to a debate by Like Minds on the Impact & Future of Social Media in Men’s Fashion, which was moderated by Esquire’s senior fashion editor, Gareth Scourfield.

With panellists including Zach Barfield of The Perfect Gentleman, Richard Martin, the marketing director of Lyle & Scott, and David Hellqvist, online editor of PORT Magazine, we picked up some great insights and have shared our highlights here.

Blending digital with the physical world is something Burberry has mastered like no other. And it’s a trend that’s here to stay, with consumers becoming immersed in the brand experience through bricks and mortar, then heading online to find the best deal (aka ‘showrooming’).

Indeed, one of the only ways for online retailers to communicate their brand aesthetic is at the point when digital becomes physical: The delivery. So with 95% of consumers saying poor quality packaging negatively affects their perception of a brand, it’s no wonder our favourite online stores spend so much time getting their packaging right.

With comparison so easy online, it has become more and more important for brands to have a USP in order to stand out. Highlighting heritage is a key part of this and as long as the messaging is consistent, brands that don’t become a pastiche of themselves, while understanding where they came from, will always survive. Another way to stand out is for brands to use their websites as editorial platforms, rather than just seeing it as a sales tool. There isn’t much better endorsement than a top editor writing about your products, on your site (or even running it, à la Mr Porter).

Finally, selling to men requires an almost entirely different approach to selling to a woman. Men need engagement over time and they need to be convinced to buy into a brand through key touch points. Now that 85% of British men prefer to shop online, it’s never been more important for men’s fashion brands to get it right in the digital sphere.

Posted October 11th, 2013 by talkpr

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Biscuit of the Month

This month’s biscuit of choice is Fox’s Extremely Milk Chocolate Chunkie Cookies, selected by the finance team’s Chris Westwood.

Posted October 1st, 2013 by talkpr