Why People Share Online Videos -- And Why Marketers Should Care

A pivotal component of online video marketing is sharing. If your target audience isn't sharing your brand, business or organization's videos, they aren't sharing your marketing message, either. While the call to action to buy your product, try your service, learn more, click here, sign up now, tell a friend, engage and interact may be realized primarily through the media surrounding videos like blogs, publications, social networks and discussion boards, the videos themselves are the vehicles by which these messages are spread. If the message is the story, then video is the conversation piece.

Understanding why audiences share video content is important in developing successful video and social media marketing campaigns.

Sharing an experience: People have a built-in need to share experiences. Although we often watch video content by ourselves, we still feel that need to laugh, cry or be outraged with someone else. As cavemen, we sat around the campfire and shared stories, then we listened around the radio, then we watched TV together. Now, as we become socially fragmented in our entertainment consumption, we still have that need to share stories -- so we forward videos, leave comments, write and read posts and interact online. Sharing gives people that sense of community and explains why social networks are so popular.

Discovering something new: People like to be the first to discover something -- and what fun is discovery if you can't share and take credit for your discovery? This also feeds people's need for praise and being at the center of events. People like to be seen as influencers, and finding and sharing video content is an important part of fulfilling that need.

Validating a belief or position: Sharing a video that reflects something we believe in, either personally or professionally, allows us to claim ownership of the idea or message of the video. We can embed the video on our websites and social networking sites, talk about the video, use it as a reference and enjoy all the benefits as if we had made the video ourselves.

Reflecting viewpoints and identities: The videos we share are a reflection of our viewpoints and even our identities. They can indicate our tastes in entertainment, our beliefs, values, positions on politics and anything else that is important to us. Sharing video content, photos, blog posts and writing on social sites is how we define ourselves online.

Eliciting a reaction: Sending a funny, shocking or meaningful video to a friend or co-worker is likely to elicit a response, positive or negative. Sometimes any attention is good attention when you're trying to reach out and engage others. Very often a good "flame war" in the comments section can be more entertaining than the video itself.

Raising awareness and being a part of a cause: Raising awareness of a worthwhile cause by forwarding videos, commenting and writing makes people feel like they're doing their part. By tapping into our passions and appealing to our compassionate natures, "cause" videos spread quickly and can produce meaningful results.

Helping friends and networking: "I knew you would think this is funny," or "here's a video about that thing you were trying to figure out," or "here's a contest you should enter." People send relevant videos to friends, acquaintances or business contacts to let them know they are thinking about them.

Advances in social networking and Itechnology have simplified sharing and viewing videos, and the time and effort required is minimal. By understanding why people share online videos, we can develop video content and social media marketing campaigns that are more readily enjoyed, shared and sought after.

2 comments about "Why People Share Online Videos -- And Why Marketers Should Care ".
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  1. Phil Ripperger, January 4, 2011 at 3:43 p.m.

    Terrific commentary David. Online video has increasingly proven itself to be a powerful adhesive to bind communities and a spark for engagement and actions.

    I would also add that just as important as sharing a video discovered online is giving members of your community the opportunity to share their own video within you site. After all, it's incredibly cheap and easy to capture and upload video, so why not have them share within relevant context of your site, blog, etc? Your visitors/clients/friends will thank you!

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Lyn Graft from LG Pictures, January 5, 2011 at 9:03 a.m.

    Good summary David - captures most of the key reasons people are moved to share online content. What are some of your favorite videos that have gone viral over the years?

    My current favorite is the Angry Birds peace treaty parody.

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