Creating Online Videos
That Engage Viewers
Many companies seek to create online video content that will become popular with
consumers. But what are the characteristics of videos that engage consumers?
BY DANTE M. PIROUZ, ALLISON R. JOHNSON, MATTHEW THOMSON AND RAYMOND PIROUZ
THE HOLY GRAIL of modern online marketing is video content that “goes viral,” meaning that
it captures an enormous number of views and leads audiences to share, comment or click that they
“like” a video. Advertisers, marketing consultants and filmmakers have all ventured theories about
what kind of content makes for a hit. The trouble is that the advice varies widely and is even contradictory. Depending on the expert, success is thought more likely if a video is humorous, shocking,
dramatic, topical, warm, arousing, angry, scary, socially beneficial, cute, violent, sexy, uplifting,
intriguing, quirky, interesting, authoritative, tear-jerking, educational, controversial or baby- and
One of the reasons for the wide range of recommendations is that researchers have often looked at
only popular videos. For example, one study that tracked the distribution of videos on Facebook
focused only on those that were shared most often, which meant that the researchers did not compare
likes and views.
they have never
seen — or familiar
in a new way.
A video of Felix Baumgartner
performing the world’s highest
skydive was one of the top
videos of 2012.