The Science Behind Sharable Video II: Body Painting Case Study

Opinion: Finding a viral topic is the foundation on which your video will be built

While thumbnails catch our eye, a strong tagline is also extremely important
Michael Philippe, Keli Network

The latest viral video  making its way through our social feeds is that of Jentree, a two-year-old watching The Good Dinosaur. Filmed by her grandmother, Jentree cries during an emotional scene in the film.

It has been viewed more than 8 million times on Facebook and, while random, it taps into an emotion—empathy.

When developing a viral video, it’s important to remember that the topic needs to tap into some sort of human emotion—curiosity, creativity, inspiration, humor and, yes, even sadness (poor Jentree).

While there is no science to Jentree’s newfound fame, there was to our viral body painting video, and we’re going to examine how it captured the attention of millions.

Step 1: Find your topic

As mentioned in my previous guest post, finding a viral topic is the foundation on which your video will be built. Casually browsing trending topics on social and choosing one at random won’t suffice. You must use data, analytics and trend detectors to find a topic you can use.

Using Keli Network’s own trend detector tools, we are able to follow the latest overperforming trends on all social channels. Checking several times per day, we were surprised to find body painting consistently trending. Using this information, we created a video combining both body painting and optical illusion makeup—targeting a key demographic in the process.

Why body painting and optical illusion makeup? Remember: Not all topics are viral, but with the backing of data and the knowledge that it’s compelling, creative and educational, we knew this topic would strike gold.

Step 2: Adapt for platform and perfect your video

Users engage with social media platforms in unique and vastly different ways. Thus, it’s important to adapt your topic and content to the platform you’re targeting.

For example, a video on Facebook should not be the same on Snapchat. Both platforms distribute their content differently, and your strategy cannot simply be copied and pasted.

It’s also important to have multiple videos to test. Thus, we created several versions of the original video, posted them on a test page and analyzed the data.

With the help of our artificial intelligence tools, we were able to analyze the content and deduce that version No. 1 of the video saw the least amount of engagement: 75 percent of people stopped watching after the fifth second. (Don’t forget: The average consumer has an attention span of eight seconds).

In contrast, version No. 4 of the video was a clear winner. This version showed the finished results upfront, making the introduction of the video more dynamic and enticing.

Step 3: Use A/B testing and edit accordingly

If you were baking a cake, this would be the step after the cake has come out of the oven and you’re ready to decorate. A/B testing is one of the most important steps when creating sharable content. This is where you get to play with multiple variables and watch your content flourish.

It’s important to get feedback from targeted test audiences to ensure that you choose the best version of your video possible. Analyzing how they engage with it can also be helpful for future videos on similar topics.

After the final edit of the body painting video was completed, we tested four different thumbnails combined with four taglines, generating 16 combinations.

While thumbnails catch our eye, a strong tagline is also extremely important. The taglines we tested were:

  • “Beauty Studio brings you a makeup experience like no other!”
  • “This body painting World Champion will blow your mind!”
  • “You need to see this optical illusion makeup!”
  • “Creepy or Stylish? You decide.”

Social trends are often counterintuitive, and we are always surprised by which combination of thumbnail and tagline works best. The results of our A/B testing found that a mysterious thumbnail in lieu of the finished product, coupled with an attention-grabbing tagline—“This World Champion Body Painter will blow your mind!”—intrigued our audience, making them want to watch and learn more.

With this information in mind, we were able to edit and post for maximum social engagement and results. The body painting video received 13,700 shares, 74,000 likes and 8.2 million views.

Like I said, step three is the icing on the cake. Now eat and enjoy.

Michael Philippe is co-founder and CEO at social channel creator Keli Network.