What Makes a Video Viral?

Dove’s video campaign, “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” made news recently by becoming the most watched advertisement of all time. Its 114 million views in 25 languages also helped it become the third most shared video of all time. With numbers like that, advertisers are itching to understand what makes a video viral and how they can produce widely shared content of their own.

One of those companies that has also found similar viral success is Kmart. The tone of this campaign is very different from Dove’s, taking an edgy and humorous approach. Its most recent video advertisements “Ship My Pants” and “Big Gas Savings” have received over 25 millions hits.

Though Dove’s and Kmart’s videos are very different in content, they both had large viral success. These videos were not watched and shared because people really wanted to get their pants shipped or because Dove’s soap smells so great – they were viewed over and over on YouTube, shared on Facebook and retweeted on Twitter because they evoke emotional responses. And according to the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, ads that create positive emotional reactions are 30% more likely to be shared than ones that produce different responses.

Whether it is science, luck, creativity or a mix of all three that are responsible for the success of viral videos, businesses are hungry to make them and consumers are eager to share them. What do you think makes a video viral? Is there a science behind creating successful viral campaigns, or in the end does it just boil down to luck?