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The anatomy of an ad that recently went viral (and how you can too)

(MARKETING NEWS) What if we told you it garnered over 27 million views in 24 hours, and 54 million total in less than a week? And what if we told you they paid NO MONEY for ad placement? Shocked yet?

TFW you use a meme and crush it

“That moment when your grandpa shows up and puts Muscle Beach regulars to shame.”

If you’re familiar with recent internet memes, you probably recognize that tagline format as a common template for funny videos or images.

But what if we told you that this was the title of cider brand Smith & Forge’s latest ad? And what if we told you it garnered over 27 million views in 24 hours, and 54 million total in less than a week? And what if we told you they paid NO MONEY for ad placement? Shocked yet?

This masterstroke of content marketing comes from Thrillist, who is constructing and broadcasting a six-part ad series for Smith & Forge’s “Hard Won” campaign. This piece comes from the company’s fledgling video department, and they created it in a month. So, how did they pull it off? Let’s break it down!

Think like your end consumer, then work backwards to connect it to your brand

It’s a classic line, and it still bears repeating. Many brands flop mightily in the content marketing arena because they don’t or can’t create content that actually appeals to the end user.

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That means knowing how viral content works and embracing it in full.

This video is proof positive of that. The video team confirmed that they “set out to create a piece of content they themselves would want to watch and share online,” in an interview with Digiday.

It also helps that the brand has an “old-school fun mentality” branding that can jive with this type of theme. You don’t have to abandon your brand identity to keyboard cats for the sake of mad video views. Successful online content can also be uplifting, emotional, enlightening, and a host of other things. Consider your options, then find the one that works best for you. It will work better than way anyway.

You need a good hook

Thrillist’s video doesn’t bury the lead; in the first 15 seconds, we see gramps move over 100 pounds of weight about his head. You’re immediately left wondering, “how does he do it!?!?”

This is a best practice Thrillist learned from publishing past videos; you’ve got to engage viewers as soon as possible. Especially in an era where your end viewer can all too easily scroll past your video, you’ve got to give them a reason to pause and watch until the end.

Other tidbits

In the Digiday article, Thrillist also mentioned including captions as a best practice. This makes sense, given that Facebook videos default to mute until the user turns the audio on. These captions can also help draw in viewers.

Authenticity is also key. You get the impression that the Muscle Beach regulars are genuinely shocked by grandpa’s presence throughout most, if not all, of the video. With some prank videos, it can be easy to see if the company putting on the show has planted actors to get a specific reaction. If you’re going to go for it, go big and make it realistic.

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Written By

Born in Boston and raised in California, Connor arrived in Texas for college and was (lovingly) ensnared by southern hospitality and copious helpings of queso. As an SEO professional, he lives and breathes online marketing and its impact on businesses. His loves include disc-related sports, a pint of a top-notch craft beer, historical non-fiction novels, and Austin's live music scene.



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