Money & Business

The Science Behind a Viral Association Video

By / Mar 4, 2014

The American Chemical Society recently revamped its online video series, incorporating lessons learned in the past five years of production to make even more relevant and engaging videos, and it seems to be working.

We wanted to have a fresh start and sort of focus on shorter episodes that are released on a weekly basis and that touch on topics that are even more relevant than what we were covering in ‘Bytesize.’

Ever wonder what makes sriracha so spicy? Or addictive? Well, wonder no more thanks to the American Chemical Society. The world’s largest scientific society released a video last week that not only broke down the chemistry behind the popular condiment but also became somewhat of a viral sensation.

It received nearly half a million views on YouTube and coverage on several major news outlets, including NPR.

“We were so pumped when that happened,” said Adam Dylewski, manager of ACS productions, of the NPR coverage. “I was getting phone calls and emails and texts from people saying that they heard us being mentioned on the radio.”

The sriracha video is the latest in ACS’s newly launched Reactions video series—a reboot of the association’s YouTube channel Bytesize Science. Dylewski said that despite the success of the five-year-old Bytesize series, it was time for an upgrade. He and his team wanted to incorporate everything they’d learned producing Bytesize into a new series capturing everyday chemistry.

“We wanted to have a fresh start and sort of focus on shorter episodes that are released on a weekly basis and that touch on topics that are even more relevant than what we were covering in Bytesize,” Dylewski said.

While Bytesize videos always had a sort-of quirky, “Bill-Nye-the-Science-Guy”-type feel to them, Dylewski said he and his team want to push the envelope further and create even more entertaining videos with Reactions. They hope the videos prove educational, too.

“The word ‘chemical’ gets quite a bad rap, but from a scientific perspective the word is very benign, and it just means essentially stuff,” Dylewski said. “We want to make people aware that chemistry is always around them and they’re surrounded by chemicals. We also want to get them excited about the subject.”

Admittedly, Dylewski said he and his colleagues have a lot of subjects to choose from when conceptualizing videos. Not all associations are as lucky. For those organizations whose subject matter lies far outside the realm of the chemical makeup of hot sauce, Dylewski recommended identifying the absolute most interesting thing you are about and make a video around that.

And for those organizations that work in areas that are less than visual, Dylewski advised getting creative. For example, if you have a lot of photos from activities your association has sponsored, put them into Photoshop and make collages, or try a handmade drawing video, which has become a popular convention.

“It’s really about experimenting with what works, and the most important thing is just getting stuff out there and not second guessing yourself too much,” Dylewski said. “Once you get a few videos out there, you’ll see what’s working, and you’ll see what’s not, and you’ll refine the process.”

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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