is a key driver here, with videos providing a context and permission for talking about feelings, especially when the audience can relate those videos to their own lives. This was the case with John Lewis’s 'Man on the Moon' Christmas ad , for example, which benefited from tackling emotive subject matter that was relevant to large number of families – but rarely discussed. In such circumstances, comment strings often take on a life of their own, creating tangential dialogue that those sharing and watching can feel like they’ve contributed to.



Incorporate a story arc

Marketers are often told about digital audiences’ plummeting attention spans – and encouraged to shorten their online videos to fit them. However, the patterns of engagement for the most shared online videos suggest that this oversimplifies the issue. More substantial videos can achieve a high level of sharing – provided that extra time is filled with an engaging story arc.

Longer and more complex stories are one means by which online video can explore deeper and more motivating emotions. As a powerful package for building memories, such stories help to maximise video’s long-term impact whilst drawing audiences back to view again – and as repeat viewing increases so does the propensity to share and express oneself through comments. Amongst the videos that generate sustained momentum beyond their initial posting, 84 per cent generated a high degree of positive sentiment in the comments that they generated. Often this positivity was the result of people identifying with the stories they told.

The potential for videos that are able to incorporate recognisable characters and an emotional journey is demonstrated by Extra Gum’s two-minute love story (a relatively long online video), which has so far generated over 90,000 likes, 65,000 retweets and counting.



Build for mobile

It’s not just the content of an online video that shapes its chances of success; the format in which it is delivered also has a vital role to play.

Image 2Despite the fact that mobile devices smaller screens can make them a less preferred viewing choice, people are 42% more likely to frequently comment on a video when they watch it on a mobile or tablet. Those who wait to watch video on a laptop or PC are more inclined to consume their content in lean-back mode rather than engaging, interacting and expressing themselves; they are less a part of an immediate, organic conversation.


The importance of mobile in driving comments and retweets/shares requires a mindset shift on the part of marketers. Any video with an online distribution strategy needs to be built for mobile first and foremost, not merely adapted to it once the creative is complete. 


Ensure discoverability

Videos can gain momentum in several different ways. Sharing by top-tier influencers with large networks is one of these. However, video can also generate second-phase sharing at scale through smaller and more intimate networks, or when potential influencers are able to discover it for themselves. This makes ensuring discoverability a key element in a fully rounded online video strategy.

When it comes to the methods of discovery that are most likely to put online video in front of people, general browsing ranks top, followed by social media feeds, friends and family, and then video retweeted/shared by people that they follow. Amongst those who consume video on mobile, and are therefore 

Videos that are discoverable across all of these different channels aren’t just likely to be found and watched by more people; they are also more likely to be commented upon, as a result of the sense of ownership that discovery creates. From applying SEO principles to sponsoring content in social media feeds, and working with video platforms to secure positions in top ten lists and related content recommendations, the mechanics of discoverability have a key role to play in online video’s success.

Tailoring tactics to win in the second wave

The most watched and shared online videos don’t usually achieve this success through a single round of sharing. It’s the sustained conversations they inspire that push them past the tipping point.

To achieve such sustained momentum, marketers need to take a lead from the most successful organic and user-generated videos – and embed motivating reasons to share and comment that