What UX can learn from viral videos

When we think of viral videos, we think of cute cats doing cute things. Love ’em or hate ’em, viral videos do spread like wild fire. Viral video marketing has become a clever way for companies to pitch their brand and products. So what can we learn from viral videos to design better user experiences?

Cat_playing_piano

I’ve been attending some of the classes offered by General Assembly Australia’s Online Summer School. One of the courses I took part in was the presentation on Viral Video Marketing by Barry Pousman. Here are some insights I learnt:

Content is king…once again

Barry explains how every viral video fits somewhere on the matrix below:

Emotive_strength

How people feel about your design is based on what content you put into it. And what content you put into your design depends on what effect you’re trying to have on your users. Here are the links to the videos mentioned either to enjoy (or not enjoy):

(keep scrolling down for my quality blog content)

Popular ads: Old Spice

Rebecca Black

Charlie Bit My Finger

Pepper-spraying cop

Even though a video could be perceived to be disingenuous and is generally disliked, it could fall into the category of being ‘so bad, it’s good’. It’s important to realise that the prompt to share a video can be for a combination of reasons.

The most successful viral video of all time ‘Gangnam Style‘ by PSY managed to cross cultural boundaries. It wasn’t just a catchy tune with a funny dance routine and a cheesy video. But most importantly, the dance routine looked easy enough to imitate and represented a universally known activity – horse riding.

Context-based packaging

A lot of good videos out there don’t get noticed because of the title of the video or the thumbnail fails to grab attention. On the other hand, a lot of bad videos get clicked on because of their titles and thumbnails. Barry mentions that one of the best ways to grab user attention is to package your content with something timely and relevant to the user. For example, during the Olympics, products with the Olympic logo tend to sell more than the same products without it.

Keep an eye out for trends

To make your design and content contextually relevant, keep a look out for what’s coming up in the calendar (holidays, world events, etc.) to predict the trends. Marketers always grab onto the next big holiday, even if it’s 6 months away!

 

Finally, what happens when UX meets a viral video? My colleague Dan Sorvik decided to find out. I’ll leave you with a potentially viral video that my colleague Dan Sorvik made yesterday. It’s Sweet Brown Meets UX: Ain’t Nobody Got Time for Bad UX!