In an earlier article, we looked at the demographics and characteristics of who watches videos online, and who shares them. That article revealed that huge numbers of people are watching YouTube and other video sharing sites’ videos on a daily basis, and about half of all online users have shared a video at one time or another.
Is there any way to tap into that enormous power, though, and get a viral video marketing campaign off the ground? The answer, surprisingly, is yes. Through the power of opinion leaders sharing videos in their social circles, a single video can be seen by millions and millions of people over time. The problem is identifying who is and is not an opinion leader.
But first, what is an opinion leader? Knowing something about them will help us track down a few who are interested in a particular video topic and entice them to start sharing. Put simply, a person is an opinion leader to the degree to which he or she is able to informally influence other people’s attitudes and behaviors. This obviously includes influencing people to watch and share a video further.
Remember that the S-shaped diffusion curve for a viral video (or any type of innovation) takes off somewhere between the 10-20% adoption rate, with 16% being a fair estimate of a video crossing over and becoming viral. With that said, let’s take a look at opinion leaders in more depth, because they are the ones who can share a video on their social media account or on their influential blog.
In general, opinion leaders have a greater exposure to mass media than the average internet user, and are more cosmopolitan. They have more contact with other change agents, and participate in social events at a higher level. They typically have a higher socioeconomic status than others around them, and are more innovative when a social system’s norms favor a change in that social system.
It is important to keep in mind that opinion leaders, in their role, must demonstrate prudent judgment when being exposed to a new idea. Should they share it or sit on it or simply ignore it? According to Emanuel Rosen’s book The Anatomy of Buzz, they are ahead in the adoption of new ideas if they are seen as good ones, and are more connected socially to others. They are more likely to be travelers, and are hungry for information. They are often more vocal than others around them, and expose themselves to media at a higher rate.
In any given industry or niche market, there are bound to be a handful of opinion leaders who can take a new idea and spread it. These might be Twitter users with tens of thousands of followers, the publisher of a high-quality, influential blog, or a popular YouTube video marketer. Opinion leaders come in all shapes and sizes, but knowing some of their personality traits will make it much easier to identify and contact them.