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As we've just had Social Media Week, I’ve been thinking about the unnatural relationship between the commercial considerations of brands and the social motivations of their customers.
If we admit it’s ludicrous to create a formula for making friends in the real world, then it’s also difficult to preach to brands on a definitive way to engage fans online. That’s because social media to a lot of people is considered respite from advertising.
The only way to advertise is to make sure your content is engaging enough to be considered not content. If you can do that, your adverts will be shared, my son.
With 100 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute, your brand has to understand the alchemy of boredom. Thankfully, Unruly Media has been taking steps to bring some sanity to sharing.
Unruly's ShareRank metric attempts to bring a degree of qualitative research to the creative punt on the subjective. ShareRank measures the propensity for an audience to share video on social.
Why would a user share your content?
In this table, Unruly has summed up the social reasons for sharing a video. This is just one view of the motivations behind sharing, but it’s fairly broad and importantly is used consistently to bring a degree of objectivity to sharing.
Reasons for sharing range from ‘zeitgeist’ to ‘self expression’, ‘shared passion’ to ‘social good’. Once these scores are averaged, one attains a score for 'social motivation to share.'
How do users respond to your content?
This table examines the more visceral side of video and the primary reasons for sharing. Lots of us have enjoyed watching ‘Ultimate fail compilation’ on YouTube, and other such stupid content that nevertheless leaves our mouths agape.
To sum up our reactions to video, Unruly lists varying degrees of emotion. So, for example, nostalgia can be measure as n/a to wistful to nostalgic to deeply nostalgic. 18 Emotions are measured in this way, including contempt, arousal and fear. Once again, an averaged score for psychological response is calculated. This is combined with the social sharing score to give a ShareRank number.
How sharable were this year's Super Bowl ads?
This paper from Unruly uses ShareRank to examine 12 television commercials from Super Bowl XLVII, which aired on February 3, 2013. 10,000+ consumer responses were analysed to predict the social impact of video content.
The average Super Bowl 2013 ShareRank score was 4.8/10.
Year-on-year sharing grew by 118% from 2012 to 2013, with Super Bowl teasers and ads generating 7,739,917 shares in 2013, up from 3,546,560 shares in 2012.
Here are two of the most successful adverts, and one that shows the difficulty of going to that edge beyond the ledge.
Budweiser’s Brotherhood ad was the most successful. Redemption and great music is a powerful combination. Shunning humour helped the ad to stand out – this is probably one area the a ShareRank algo can’t help – knowing what your competition are up to, and how your ad will stand out in any reel is quite difficult to do.
- Unruly ShareRank score: 7.8 (+78.9% Super Bowl avg)
- Shares: 2,096,560
- Psychological Responses evoked: Happiness (8.7) Warmth (8.3) Sadness (8.0)
- Social Motivation evoked: Overall 3.4 (+29.4% Super Bowl avg)
Unruly notes that ‘Sadness scored highly early in the ad, which served to intensify viewers’ feelings of happiness experienced later on in the video.’ Fleetwood Mac’s emotive “Landslide” capitalised on this pathos.
Music has great emotive power, and the right song selection here is the key to increasing sharing.
In similar territory to Budweiser was Ram, and its adverts praising the farmer.
- Unruly ShareRank score: 7.3 (+52.1% Super Bowl avg)
- Shares: 823,691
- Psychological Responses evoked: Pride (9.0) Warmth (8.6) Happiness (8.6)
- Social Motivations evoked: Overall 3.3 (+22.4% Super Bowl avg)
'Farmer' was the top Autos ad of the Super Bowl, scoring highest for both social motivation and psychological response. It stood out with its serious approach, evoking feelings of national pride, warmth and happiness.
And here’s a good example of how hard it can be to predict an advert’s success without applying some objectivity like ShareRank.
'Perfect Match '
- Unruly ShareRank score: 3.1 (-35.4% Super Bowl avg)
- Shares: 138,885
- Psychological Responses evoked: Shock (8.2) Disgust (7.8) Surprise (7.2)
- Social Motivations evoked: Overall 1.7 (-35.2% Super Bowl avg)
Unruly gets it bang on here:
GoDaddy evoked strong psychological responses (surprise, shock and disgust), but still generated a low ShareRank score and share rate as a result of its very low social motivations (35% below the Super Bowl sample norm).
Although viewers felt a strong emotional reaction to this controversial piece of content, the ad alienated the general public, which inhibited sharing.
They go on to point out that ‘hilarity is a fickle trigger’. Brands need to be exceptionally funny, or risk being anticlimactic (I pointed out a similar phenomenon with first direct’s platypus adverts).
Here I think it’s important to try to take note of shifting political and social attitudes. Since the recession, comedy has somewhat taken a backseat. Will Ferrell and the frat pack are no longer the order of the day, rather it's now considered humour and pathos.
Unruly recommends brands move away from humour for future media events in order to be remembered and shared.
Download the paper and think about how objectively you measure reactions to your ads. There are so many case studies to go on - knowing the current mood of the people and the strengths of your products is all it takes to find the right pitch.