What makes videos share-worthy?What was the last video you shared? Go back to the moment right before you clicked the social buttons; what were you thinking (other than “woah, this is awesome”)?

The top viral video ads of 2013 including Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, Kmart’s Ship Your Pants, and Volvo’s Epic Split got a whopping 1.8  to 4.2 million social shares. These videos gained massive popularity because they each pass the mental checklist we have that separates the content we share from the stuff we leave in the dusty corners of the Internet.

Before posting anything you typically consider, is this interesting, helpful or cool? Does it make me look cool? Will my friends share this too?

As it turns out, we rely on our identity, the wow factor, and overall utility to determine whether videos are share-worthy. Based on these influences, here are three practical things you can do to get more social shares for your videos:

1. Create Content That Reinforces Your Buyer’s Identity

Perhaps the most psychological factor involved in social sharing, identity plays a key role in whether you’ll post content for others to see.

If I’m an established fashionista, for example, I want to share content that reinforces that identity to my network. I want people to know I’m really into fashion, I want them to connect with me over a shared interest, and I’ll likely add my personal opinion as context when I share.

You are what you share

Strategically, this is exactly why brands like RedBull invest in branded entertainment. Their target market has a strong interest in extreme sports and are more likely to share a video about dirt bikes than a video about a soft drink.

Outline the interests of  your buyer personas and make a video appealing to their hobbies or obsessions. Even B2B companies can do this with their customers – just look at the success of Lattice Engine’s Marketing Nerd campaign which rallied self-professed data junkies everywhere.

2. Aim for the wow Factor

The second part of shareable content is whether it’s impressive. People typically share videos that involve something they’ve never seen before. Alternatively, if it isn’t something brand new, it needs to trump whatever they have seen before.

My favourite example is Gieco’s Hump Day video with over four million shares. They might sell car insurance, but their content is always something wild – like this camel who loves Wednesdays.

If your content has this wow factor, people will likely share it to reinforce their identity (i.e. “This video has a camel! I love camels! I’ve never seen a camel talk before! Aren’t you glad I showed you this funny camel?”).

You don’t need a talking animal in your video, but you do need something memorable. When you brainstorm your B2B video concept, move it into different settings with different characters to see where it’s most memorable.

3. Answer Questions and Challenge Assumptions

You’ll notice that a lot of popular content falls into a how-to category and is shared because it’s incredibly helpful. If you can simplify and explain an issue like global warming similar to how Bill Nye does in this fun and informative video, you can reap SEO benefits and get your content shared across social networks. This video in particular has over 31,000 Facebook shares.

You can also try turning common knowledge on its head. Just look at how many shares Kelly McGonigal had on her popular Ted Talk about how to make stress your friend. Positioning the content with a contrary-to-common-sense approach got Kelly the clicks, and the delivery helped her get 191,000 shares on Facebook.

Take a look at issues in your industry that you can provide expert commentary on or explain really well. Bonus points if you find a way to position your opinion in a creative, shareable way.

Shares are Good. New Leads are Even Better

You can create shareable content if you focus on these three elements, but what’s more is that you can optimize your shared content for lead generation too. If your videos are being shared on various channels, you can collect new leads with email gates or calls to action.

If Sue from accounting shares your video on LinkedIn, and her coworker checks it out and fills out the end-of-video contact form, you’ve acquired a new lead based on the shareable nature of your content.

So, which videos have you been most successful with share-wise? Leave a comment with your favourite share-worthy video.

Jennifer Pepper