🔥 Livestream: The recipe for viral social media with Owen Williams

Marc Thomas
🔥 Livestream: The recipe for viral social media with Owen Williams

Believe it or not, the recipe for viral social media is remarkably easy: Information; Identity; Emotion.

Contents of this article

Believe it or not, the recipe for viral social media is remarkably easy: Information; Identity; Emotion. 

In other words

  • How this content and/or messaging better informs me about the world around me (Information). 
  • How this content and/or messaging better informs me about myself (identity). 
  • How this content and/or messaging makes me feel (Emotion)

But, like all good recipes, it's just a set of raw ingredients until you understand the technique. 

To learn the recipe for social media success, we sat down for a livestream with Owen Williams, Managing Director of creative social media agency, Siml (and, not coincidentally, the one of the two people responsible for the official proposal that put the Wales, Scotland and England flag emojis on all your devices.)

Owen’s energy and enthusiasm, combined with 20 years' experience in digital innovation, content production and social media governance has driven change across broadcast, marketing, sporting, third sector and education clients such as BBC, S4C, Visit Wales and Sport Wales.

Here's the playback of the livestream:

Here’s what we talked about. 

Three great examples of viral social media

We asked Owen to share some of his great viral social media wins. Here’s what he came up with: 

Number 1 – Nigel Owens and the bear (2:30)

Nigel Owens, a famous Welsh rugby referee, is well known for his sharp tongue and dealing with big characters on the field. And so, Citroen UK thought it’d be a great pitch (sorry) to get him to ‘tell a bear off’ in their advert. The bear is tamed and is seen wearing a tuxedo with Owens at the end. 

It turns out, not everyone can distinguish between a live bear and a VFX bear. 

People replied expressing their discontent at Nigel Owens and Citroen using a bear in their adverts (facepalm) and this beauty of a tweet was born: 

This meets all of Owen's recipe for viral social media. Here's how:

  1. Information – People are outraged about dumb stuff on social media
  2. Identity – I like Nigel Owens. I'm smart because I know that's not a real bear.
  3. Emotion – I'm so fed up of stupid outrage on social media.

Number 2 – Cadi’s Christmas Parents (5:30)

Owen’s next door neighbour died a few years ago. It was Christmas time and the neighbour’s daughter came around with a plastic sack full of the presents which her dad had bought for Owen’s daughter, Cadi, for the next 13 years.

If that’s not a tearjerker, I don’t know what is. 

Owen’s tweet was followed up with a poll about whether or not he should let Cadi open the presents right away. 

The poll received 67,000 votes. 

Owen’s tweet struck a chord because it follows the recipe for viral social media: 

  1. Information – People can be nice at Christmas time
  2. Identity – I am reflecting on my own choices. I am wondering what I would do in this situation.
  3. Emotion – I am connecting with the detail about ‘christmas presents for 13 years’

Such a chord was struck that nearly every major news website in the world covered Owen’s story. 

Number 3 – World’s deadliest cat (7:28)

The BBC series Big Cats was due to be released. Owen was asked to make social content for the show. He asked the marketing department to collaborate with the producers to find things that add value. 

The clip which they came up with was of the ‘World’s deadliest cat’. 

Obviously, you can see that the cat is the deadliest cat by ‘kill rate’. There are other cats which can crush you under their weight (or claws). 

But the juxtaposition of the cute kitten running on the screen with the facts, makes this an insanely shareable piece of content. 

The ingredients are all there: 

  1. Information – This is the world’s most dangerous cat
  2. Identity – I’ve got a cat
  3. Emotion – That genuinely is heartwarming

Best of all, this comes round every year on international big cat day. It continues to generate exposure and publicity for the brand. 

We asked the livestream audience what they were most struck by. Cadi’s presents won the day. 

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