Some interesting data came out from Unruly Media showing how many times the 200 most shared videos were shared over the first three months after they were released. As you’d expect, there is a sharp peak to start, followed by the eponymous “long-tail” (where a lot of sharing still happens—more on that in a moment). While ReelSEO and MediaPost take the easy path with the report—share now, share fast, share to succeed—the more realistic approach for agencies is seeing the opportunity for creating content that has lasting value for clients over the long term not just the immediate boost.

Here is the chart that Unruly Media released:

Unruly_Social_Diffusion_Curve_2013_PDF

What stands out immediately is the big sharing peak starts on day two, and not on the first day the video was released. This, actually, gives us our first take-away: if your client’s video doesn’t take off on the first day…don’t sweat it.

Here’s the key point of divergence from other video marketing experts. You already know that trying to become the next viral sensation is a fool’s errand. Now you can add, “if you don’t make it big in the first few days your video isn’t successful” to the bucking-the-trend stances.

As marketing professionals and agencies, we have to quit defining success so narrowly for ourselves and our clients. It’s a safe bet that lots of folks are going to forget that the report and these data are based on only 200 videos. Sure the 200 of the most-shared videos, but only 200 videos. Now consider the goals of those videos, oh wait, we don’t know that. We don’t even know if these videos were just viral “omg I love that song” or “wow, that guy is a moron” videos either. Marketing strategies are based on goals and outcomes, so let’s learn something real from these data and move on.

Client Videos Should Be Interesting and “Evergreen”

If there is anything to be learned from the Unruly data it is that there is still a lot of watching and sharing going on even after the video “peaks”. For these 200 most-shared videos, 66% of the sharing was going on over the first three months of the video’s life span. When advising your clients, after convincing them that trying to “go viral” isn’t a real strategy, focus on creating content that lasts and can drive real outcomes. Videos like product walkthroughs have long shelf lives (“evergreen” content—content that doesn’t get out of date quickly) and can convince people that a service is right for them—just ask Dropbox about their success. Company profiles and testimonials are solid performers and don’t need to be refreshed all the time in oder to be both relevant and enjoyable to watch.

Most importantly, these videos can be tied to real outcomes that go beyond how many people viewed the video to how many people viewed and took action from watching a video. Yes, views are great, but success is more than eyeballs, success is creating content that drives an action which a business goal and result as well.

Videos With a Clear Next Actions Drive Client Success

These interesting and long-lasting videos need to have a call to action to answer the “what now” question in your viewer’s mind. Like the “getting things done” idea of “next actions”, videos should have some sense of “now that I’ve watched this video, I’m going to do this next”. Is it: Visit a website for more information? Start using the app or service? Call for a quote? Think about how many viral videos you’ve watched and how many of them actually drove a next action. The Old Spice commercial comes to mind for me—want (your man) to smell like the actor, then buy this body wash. Now how many others can you think of? Probably not many. Does that sound like client success to you?

Don’t Pivot Clients on a Whim: Apply Common Sense to New Data and Ideas

Perhaps the real takeaway from the Unruly report and analysis is that when there is a new report that reveals something really new and interesting, we don’t just spin and pivot all our client’s marketing plans around without thinking everything through. Applying a little common sense and delving into the deeper insights of the findings will certainly lead to a better long-term outcome.

Like making a great video that people still watch, engage with, and react to a year after it was posted; it just works because it was done right in the first place.