Study: Viral Video Grows Up

More adults are recording and posting videos online in an attempt to go viral, according to a new Pew Research Center report. How can associations capitalize on the online video explosion?

The quest for the viral video isn’t just for teens and “Harlem Shake” wannabes anymore.

Video from events was one of the top three things that people were most likely to share.

Businesses, brands, associations—just about anyone would give an arm and a leg to crack the formula that leads to a video going viral. Whether it’s catching a baby panda scaring the bajeezus out of its mother, trying to figure out what exactly a fox says, or recording a music video to tell your boss you quit, adults everywhere are finding a way to get their 10 seconds of video fame nowadays, and there’s new research to document the trend.

According to a four-year study of online video by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, the number of American adults who upload or post videos online has more than doubled from 14 percent in 2009 to 31 percent today. That includes 18 percent of adults who post videos they created themselves. The number of adults who watch and share online videos increased from 69 percent to 78 percent over the same period. The study credits smartphones for the increases.

The Opportunity

To Jenna Crane, content marketing manager at Personify, the study underscores how important it is for associations to have a video presence.

Video gives people “a different option for how they consume content,” Crane said. “You can listen to a video, you can watch it, it can convey an emotion, you can throw up stats, and it’s a little bit more dynamic and engaging than words on a page.”

While going viral has its appeal, the focus for associations should be on clarity and staying power, said Crane. “You want to keep it visually interesting, but really focus on what that message is that you’re trying to convey. Everybody’s going to be a little different, but you really want to look at the long-term value, not the one video that’s going to get 2 million views and then three weeks later no one’s going to remember it.”

The Tactics

For groups looking to dive into video, Crane had two suggestions based findings from Pew’s study.

“Half of the people that are watching videos are watching educational videos,” she said. “If education is a big thing, and you already have an e-learning program, maybe that’s where you want to start with video.”

The other area to consider is user- or member-generated videos.

“As the study showed, that’s something that is becoming more and more popular among adults, because of how easy it is to do with a smartphone,” said Crane. “Video from events was one of the top three things that people were most likely to share, according to the study, and events are the essence of associations.”

Beyond having a video presence, the trick is getting people to watch the videos your organization produces.

“There are two components to that,” Crane said. “We reach out to our customers, partners, and other association professionals and have them subscribe to receive updates when a new video is posted, and we push videos out through social media. Producing video is one thing. It’s equally as important to market your work and get people watching. Otherwise, why are you putting video out there?”

Has your association created a successful video presence? Share your story, and maybe a link or two, in the comments.


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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