Chinwag Psych Interview: Cat Jones, Unruly Media “Go Forth and Amplify.”

Chinwag Psych was a huge success, with a fantastic selection of great speakers sharing insights into how psychology, neuroscience and machine learning can open new avenues for business.

One of the day's speakers, Cat Jones, talks to Chinwag about her presentation.

As many of us online become accustomed to social sharing, it’s no surprise that there are practitioners looking into how it can be exploited.

Cat Jones, the head of business development at Unruly Media has expert level skills when it comes to viral video.

The company has been working on footage that is shareable since 2006 and it now has some very powerful tools that can pinpoint those elements in a video that will take it from interesting to a viral hit.

“We launched a product at the beginning of the year called ShareRank. It was created to help brands understand why content is shareable and how to optimise distribution strategies for sharing,” Jones told Chinwag.

ShareRank is an algorithm that Unruly Media trained over a data set of more than ten thousand points about video sharing. It helps to identify which factors encourage distribution.

“It’s always been a bit of a black-art and people have never really believed that you can predict what will be shareable", says Jones. "It’s exciting to have a product that uses real data to understand the science behind this and the psychology of why people are sharing it.”

Sharing by design

Around the time Unruly Media started distributing social video for brands, the company created the Viral Video Chart. 

No doubt it is a handy tool to see what is most shareable right now rather than just being able to see numbers about views. The chart has been running since 2006 and has generated a great deal of data with over 129 billion video streams tracked to date. Not only does it supply a live update for today, it also shows Unruly Media how things have changed over time.

Armed with this knowledge and having launched many social video campaigns, the company can see which trends are emerging.

The science of sharing has become a hot topic of study and so Unruly Media also works with academics in the field to tap into their expertise.

“We've been working with people like Dr Karen Nelson-Field a research fellow at Ehrenberg Bass - the institute of marketing science at the University of South Australia and Jonah Berger the James G. Campbell Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania along with other academics who are looking into these sorts of trends,” explains Jones.

To analyse the art of sharing, Unruly Media took the hypotheses and findings of academics to list the expectations of sharing and designed a survey to test for them. The questionnaire included enquiries about video length, how viewers felt and how prominent a brand was to them.

The result was a list of common factors in the company’s data that matched up with these experiences and can affect whether or not a video will be shared.

Challenging assumptions

We might make assumptions about the creation of viral videos based on the few we might have seen over the years, but testing these can reveal a few surprises that are worth noting when advising clients.

“Branding doesn't have an impact on our algorithm,” says Jones. “That was one of the things we tested thinking branded videos would share less because of the brand, but we didn't see that out of the data. We can see that videos like the Dollar Shave video which has overt branding all the way through but still executes as shareable content, still tend to do well.”

Video for TV or online?

The strengths of online video sharing are starting to emerge in TV commercials. “We have run close to 3000 campaigns now,” says Jones. “We’re starting to see many more campaigns that are linking TV and social.”

“Brands are tweaking content slightly to share online,” she continues. “Dual TV and social campaigns tend to work really well though and we are seeing many more brands starting to understand this.”

Whether it is for TV or online videos, ShareRank can provide useful information about a campaign no matter where it is to be placed.

“ShareRank predicts purely on the content itself,” says Jones. “So there are many ways that brands can go forth and amplify.”

To catch up with better ways to include machine learning and psychology into your business, take a look at the material from our speakers and writers at Chinwag Psych. You might find a few tricks that can take your campaign viral without having to depend solely on expensive experiments and luck.

Photos (cc) unclefuz & Benjamin Ellis