Understanding why things happen is the key to being able to make them happen again, right? For years, our hairy-bodied forebears cowered in the cold, only being able to grab an iota of warmth whenever an errant bolt of lightning set a tree ablaze. Then they found what happens when you rub two sticks together and hey presto! An entire vista of barbecued food options was suddenly theirs to cherish.

One thing video marketing companies are intensely interested in at the moment is the psychological process that motivates people to share online content with others. That’s because, in best Cracker fashion, they reckon if they can figure out why folks share content online then they’ll know which buttons they need to press in order to get THEIR video shared.

So, why do people share?

Well, perennial quester for truth it is, The New York Times has conducted a survey into just that topic. Entitled ‘The Psychology of Sharing’, the results underline the pivotal role social networks play in circulating content.

Because although 84% of respondents said sharing offered them means to support causes and issues they care about, 68% also said they share because it gives others a better sense of who they are and what they care about, thus reinforcing the kind of image they want to present.

The language surrounding online videos was also revealed to be of crucial importance, with a whopping 85% of respondents saying that reading other viewers’ comments and replies to a piece of content helps them to understand and process the key information.

What these nuggets of knowledge reinforce is that in order for any online video marketing effort to trigger sharing amongst users, it must appeal to people’s motivation to connect with others – whether that’s through a cause, or humour, or both, or via other means. Here are three charity videos that adopt different approaches…

CASE STUDY # 1:Vinnie Jones’ hard and fast Hands-only CPR’ (British Heart Foundation)

Also existing as a shorter TV ad, it’s the longer online version which interests us: a thumping great YouTube hit and a video marketing triumph, it’s scored over 2.6million views in a year, accounting for almost 60% of all views on the BHF’s YouTube channel.

Press focus undoubtedly boosted the clip, with the presence of Vinnie Jones playing up to his movie hard-man image giving the newspapers something to latch onto. But the video itself actually treads a canny line between being funny and genuinely informative – two qualities worth their weight in YouTube gold.

CASE STUDY # 2:Stand Up to Cancer’ (Channel 4 and Cancer Research UK)

Okay, so having a TV channel as partner in your charity event is always going to give you said event one heck of a publicity boost. But nonetheless, this animation trailing Channel 4 and CRUK’s Stand Up to Cancer campaign is genuinely fantastic, making use as it does of a brilliant stats-based graphical style (akin to YouTube’s own One Hour per Second site), and a great soundtrack too.

CASE STUDY # 3:This One is For You’ (Body Gossip)

Taking in a burgeoning cast of actors and presenters, and a poetic script by Laura Nation, this was one of two films produced back in 2010 by Spectrecom for Body Gossip, a charity dedicated to promoting positive body image. The approach was very direct, and the results have been hugely positive, with over 50,000 YouTube views accrued to date.

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