Marketers still seemed to be intrigued with the idea of creating a viral. If you are into marketing chances are that you have already heard the phrase ‘let’s make this go viral’ somewhere near the office corridor. The problem with viral is it works exactly opposite of how a virus works. Most viral videos lead to a single spike in views, and then the viewership declines. Instead what you should focus on is consistent viewership. Ripple effect leads to multiple or more spikes results and leads to regular viewership over time.

So what’s a ripple effect?

A ripple effect occurs when a new video content catalyzes the viewership of existing content.

It’s common to find ripple effect with channels on YouTube which create episodic content. Ripple effect also leads to an additional viewership of older videos from that same brand. Channels that succeed in building ripple effect with its videos have a readily available portfolio of video content and build brand resonance as the content has a higher shelf life.

The below chart shows how the new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens had a 5.3x impact on daily viewership of older content from Star Wars Channel on YouTube.

Ripple Effect Videos

Most brands don’t succeed in creating a ripple as they don’t follow an always-on approach or they don’t have an easily accessible portfolio of content. BMW roped popular model Gigi Hadid last year to launch its new model M2 creating ‘Eyes On Gigi’ campaign.

They started with one asset which was a short teaser to build curiosity around the launch of the new car. At 15 seconds the video was a perfect example of snackable content.

The teaser video was followed by a 45-second video two days later. The viewers were asked to identify which car Gigi Hadid was seated in towards the end. The team at BMW had two more follow-up videos for the campaign using a 360-degree video and a conclusion to the campaign with visual clues with an answer to the second video.

Eyes on Gigi Graph

BMW’s campaign for M2 was among the best content marketing campaigns of 2016. The content did create a ripple effect for BMW’s channel on Youtube.

So how do you plan for the ripple effect?

Publishing calendar

A ripple effect is a holistic channel strategy.  Channels that do well leverage different types of content to drive continued viewership because they are trying to maximum the viewership of their content. Consistency takes commitment and brands struggle with consistency.

Consistency takes commitment and brands struggle with consistency. A typical brand publishing schedule is sparse while an average native youtube creator uploads content on a regular basis. Native creators are very serious about their upload schedule the closer the brands can get to upload schedule of a native creator the more discoverable their content will be to users.

Episodic content

One way to keep consistency is to develop a show format. Procter & Gamble was among the first brands to use episodic content when they started to launch radio soap opera to market their products in the 1930s.

Proctor & Gamble continued to build more soap opera till late 1980’s.  Today episodic content is also classified as native content, but it has existed all this while. IBM recently launched a film series named ‘Eye On’ which is a perfect example of episodic content. If you are building a show format, make sure that it’s sustainable and consistent with your brand values.

Always-on approach

The always-on approach requires brands to be consistent. Always-on marketing is based two fundamentals. It’s pulled from the consumer & it’s anticipatory.

It’s pulled from the consumer: For example, an airline brand would send e-mails to its customer database every Friday hoping that hoping that some of it sticks and someone will buy a flight on the airline. They keep doing this over and over to make sure they get enough responses.

It’s anticipatory:  Brand could also anticipate buying trends by understanding consumer behavior and offer something in advance. Brands can also link this context (time, place, location, emotion) to drive greater engagement.

Data to make informed decisions

Brands creative decisions should be based on the data from analytics. The data can be gathered from YouTube, Brand Lift or can also be drawn from a survey conducted with your subscribers.

43% increase in audience retention with visual aids

YouTube analytics provides you with a drill down of how your audience engages with your content. For example, you can identify exactly at which moment audience loses attention on your content this insight can be shared with your production team to build better content in future.

Use audience retention data to inform editing

Video need to leverage both micro-moments and seasonal moments. Seasonal moments could be festivals and important events like Olympics, elections etc.

Leverage seasonal moments to drive discovery

Keeping track of data is also important to build brand resonance. I wrote about how the team at Buzzfeed tracks share rate of content created to understand the performance of a video.

Holistic channel strategy

Brands that build a comprehensive plan take care of the three core elements i.e. Inspire, Educate & Entertain.  The television industry has done this very effective for many years using the help, hero & hub content strategy. Help focuses

Help focuses on answering frequently asked questions from the viewers. A brand can create tutorial videos to respond to questions from most frequent searches (aka. queries). Help content is always-on videos.

Hub content is episodic in nature and has strong, distinct style. Episodic content helps in creating consistency and build brand resonance.

Hero content revolves around large events. For instance, a live streamed event, Google hangout video or a youtube ad created for IPL. Hero content is designed to provide a massive step-change to channels audience growth.

Does your brand have a holistic channel strategy? What’s your experience in building consistent viewership for your channel? We would like to hear from you. Appreciate if you could share your thoughts in the comments sections below.