Video Marketing

Half of Viral Video Shares Happen After the First Week

Shawn 05.22.2014

Roughly half (42%) of viral video shares happen within the first week of publication.

In 2012, Unruly Media studied the 200 most shared videos and found that “peak social shares” – roughly 10% of the total – happen on day two, and that 25% of shares happen within the first three days.

unruly social diffusion

Just look at that spike. Wow.

But this article isn’t about that impressive spike. That spike isn’t even very important. No, this article is about the little blue line that trickles off the graph with seemingly no end in sight, because that’s where most of the shares come from.

“But look at that spike!” you scream. “You can’t ignore how big and spiky it is! It’s been three whole days since we released our video and it hasn’t gone viral. It’s a failure.” You lower your head to the desk and sob silent tears as you mutter the words “spike” and “viral.”

The Truth Behind the Graph

Buck up marketers, because that “spike” only represents 10% of a video’s value. That’s nothing. The graph is a distortion, and basing your marketing strategy on it is a mistake.

All this graph shows is that the majority of a video’s value (defined as social shares) happens after the first week.

Long Live the Longtail

Yes, the line drops to a fraction of what it achieves in the first few days, but those small blips add up to most of a video’s shares (58%). Even the “200 most shared videos” owe their success to the longtail because the line representing shares never hits zero. Ever.

Turns out, successful marketing is pretty boring.

If you invest in a quality video, the payment might seem prohibitive at first, but a quality video aimed at the longtail more than pays for itself in the aggregate. It’s all about creating a marketing tool that accomplishes its objective for as long as possible, because every lead, sale, or sign-up your video brings in – even months later – makes it worth more.

Aside from the monetary value, wouldn’t you rather have a trusted tool that works, than bother refreshing your video content every few months? While Ikea furniture might be cheaper upfront, you pay for it with tedious assembly, inevitable breakage, and expensive replacement due to poor quality.

We talk more about this at length in our 5-part Video Series “Calculating Your Video’s ROI.” View part one of the series below:

Not Enough Data

The biggest problem with Unruly’s chart is that the x-axis only goes to “Day 56,” but I suspect that on a long enough timeline – like a year – the blue spike will shrink to represent what it actually is – a molehill.

Define Your Objective and Your Timeline

Many of our clients use their videos for several years – not 56 days. This evergreen content brings them value day in and day out because they answered two key questions:

  • What is your objective with this video? (inbound leads, sales, awareness, app installs)
  • When do you want to accomplish it by?

Is the video spearheading a product launch? That involves a timeline constraint, but still doesn’t eliminate the effectiveness of the longtail. Does your video promote tickets to an upcoming conference or trade show? That’s an important information to the lifespan of your content. Is the video about shifting company culture, or will it be evergreen branded content on your site? We need to know, but more importantly, so do you.

Every objective has a unique timeline – that’s why we create whiteboard animation videos custom-tailored to your needs. And if your timeline doesn’t justify our product – we’ll let you know. Promise.

As important as “viral” reach is, it’s not a metric we focus on. Even in Unruly’s study – the actual example of what they call the “social diffusion curve” – the majority of shares (58%) happen after the first week.

The Tortoise Vs. The Hare

While he’s not as exciting to watch as the hare, I’ll bet on the tortoise every single time. Because even in today’s fast-paced media frenzy, slow and steady still wins the race.

Contact us to find out how we can get your business to the winner’s circle.

Shawn

Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at ponieswillbiteyou.com

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