Activia crowned ‘most shared brand’

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The recipe for viral success is as follows: Add one Sharika to a handful of World Cup players, mix in a little yogurt, and serve across social media.

Activia’s “La La La” video with the Colombian pop princess made the top spot of Unruly’s Top 10 Social Video Brands of 2014 . The video reached more than 5.8 million shares across Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere, becoming the most shared ad of all time (VW’s “The Force” Super Bowl ad held the previous record at more than 5.2 million shares.)

Samsung, Nike, Coca-Cola, NBA, Budweiser, GoPro, Adidas, Pepsi and Electronic Arts rounded out Unruly’s list as social media brand superstars.

Richard Kosinski, president of the U.S. branch of Unruly, said brands are now aiming for the sort of “valuable virality” that not only makes them a social media success but also bolsters business goals. Here are a few ingredients that enhance a brand’s recipe for social success:

Using trends and events

Using the fervor behind popular events was a key component many of Unruly’s most shared brands; one-fifth of Unruly’s Top 30 Global Social Video Ads used the World Cup as a theme, including Activia’s video.

Other brands in Unruly’s top shared list, such as Budweiser, used timeless social media such as photos of puppies to resonate with consumers.

Trend-hopping works, especially if you can strike an emotional chord. Oliver Smith, Unruly’s managing director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said, “Many of the most successful ads this year tied their social videos to a social cause.” PR pros shouldn’t miss an opportunity to serve up some social responsibility when people are listening.

The importance of storytelling

Kosinski underscored the necessity of making a connection to drive people to share content:

In a cluttered media landscape these are the hero brands that have cut through the noise, the social brands that have invested in making a genuine connection with their consumers and are creating ads that people choose to watch and share.

The winning brands made those connections by being master storytellers. Nike’s “The Last Game” video is truly entertaining to watch:

Samsung’s “#GALAXY11: The Training,” which tells the story of an alien invasion, is just as captivating. Both brands told a series of stories that appealed to audiences, and the branding placed within the stories were minimal and relevant.

Activia’s winning video used the same tactics. Many fans of the yogurt brand recognized Shakira’s “happy tummy,” but all those healthy digestive tracts were embedded in a music video that told an engaging World Cup story. It also didn’t hurt to get “La La La” stuck in audience members’ heads after they watched it.

Smartly executed content

PR pros have a much easier time pitching stories that are interesting and have great content, whether it’s a sharply written press release, well designed logo or visually appealing video.

Antoine Dodson’s viral fame is proof people will watch poorly executed content, but unless you want your brand to be the butt of Internet jokes, invest in a team that can tell a compelling and visual story that they then spread far and wide with their pitching and social media prowess.

Unruly’s most shared brands shows advertising and design goes along with PR and marketing like peanut butter and jelly: You just can’t make the iconic sandwich that people love without the right amount of both.

[RELATED: Engage customers, employees and the media in the digital world at our Disney summit.]

Beki Winchel is co-editor of PR Daily.

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