The psychological importance of making your audience the hero in viral videos


Viral video is a hot topic in social media marketing. There are lots of good examples of how to do it. Spencer Belko has a great post about research around what’s working and what to avoid.

But there is one extremely important element that every one making a viral video should remember.

Make your target audience the star of your video!

A basic psychological need of all humans to be seen and acknowledged.  And if you show that you appreciate them and at the same time manage to show that to others, on their behalf, your half way there.

A pretty basic way of doing this is to let people make their own video, normally about the product of the one hosting the contest; upload it to a site where everybody can vote for the best video. The prize does not need to be money, but should be a broad distribution of the winning video. Using it as a TV commercial for a while is popular… This involves the audience in the making of the video and the award is 20 sec of fame…

But, in my experience, no one has done this better than the Swedish State television (SVT) with their “you’re the hero” and now “the star” video concepts. They have set a whole new standard for viral videos. Here you do not make the video, but still you are made the hero of it.

The video is only in Swedish so the market should be rather limited with less than 20 million people in the Scandinavian countries, but they achieved over 14 million unique visits within 8 weeks.

Here is the link to their Swedish site that presents both the star (popstjärna) video and the hero (hjälten).

And here is a link to the production company with a short introduction to the concept in English.

What the videos is about?

In Sweden, as well as here in Norway, we still have state owned television and everybody owning a television has to pay a TV licence each year (about $300). It goes without saying that this is not a very popular fee, and the television companies spend a huge amount each year collecting it.

Based on this campaign the Swedish State Television has received more than 23 000 new license payers in 2011. This gives the Swedish state about SEK 50 millions (more than $12 millions) in extra income this year alone.

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