YouTube is the new portal to the unknown universe, man’s third eye, and a stand-in for Netflix when the subscription becomes a little too pricey for the pocketbook. The most amazing aspect of YouTube is its ability to broadcast new concepts to the world and having them spread like wildfire as a result.
Take, for instance, a concept born out of soft touches, old-school Yahoo! groups, and Reddit junkies digging around the dark recesses of the Internet for something more substantial than a second-generation cat meme. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) videos provoke, upon viewing, a series of psychological triggers that produce a spine-chilling effect throughout the body of the viewer. This tingly sensation is achieved through slow, enunciated whispered speech patterns and role-playing exercises that include measured, binary sonic patterns of actors tapping on glasses, tearing paper, and other slightly creepy nuances of sound.
ASMR was first introduced to the Internet in 2008 via the Sound Sensationalists Yahoo! group. Its most established iteration came about in 2010 with the founding of the ASMR Research and Support website. Fast forward to 2014 where a simple search on YouTube for “ASMR” produces in excess of eight million results. Related searches for “sleep whisperer” and “tingles” net roughly 32,000 and 59,000 results, respectively.
Why has YouTube been so instrumental in the rise in popularity of ASMR knowledge, and what can this teach you about successfully leveraging this online video service to market your brand and make your product go viral?
1) It’s easier to see than to explain.
Face it — many innovative concepts are difficult to describe in words. The best elevator pitch on the planet may not be able to accurately describe the use for your company’s new app that’s able to schedule restaurant reservations and funeral arrangements simultaneously. However, with a visual animation and solid storyline, you may have the support of the most hardened undertaker.
2) It’s interactive.
ASMR is something that needs to be experienced to be fully understood. If your app or product is geared toward experiences, showing the experience in 3-D gives it substance. Pictures are fine, but live action makes a world of difference.
3) It’s pleasurable.
ASMR practitioners describe the videos they view as providing a pleasurable, tingly feeling. To a user inundated with online information on a daily basis, it’s much more pleasurable to have a new concept described in an innovative manner that takes the minimum amount of time. A recent report from Pew Research stated that the average YouTube video is 3 minutes and 53 seconds in length. That’s plenty of time to get your user base nice and relaxed while the concept of the company, mission, and product is streamed in front of them in a nice, polished video package.
4) It’s offers a visual step-by-step guide
Will flicking that half-filled glass provide that sought after tingly sensation? Not everyone can figure out so easily if you’re supposed to swipe, touch, or click for best results. If the design of your company’s website or app is a little difficult to navigate on purpose (gamification, anyone?) create a quick video to show them how to do it right.
5) You’re in good company.
EVERYONE is using YouTube! Sure, there are other video sharing services available, but YouTube has in excess of one billion hits per month. This is not to say that video sharing guarantees success, but it is one of the easiest ways to make your concept go viral. Yahoo! groups was unsuccessful at getting the nitty gritty world of ASMR out to the general public. But, years later, with a little help from amateur filmmakers with an obscure interest and access to the internet, YouTube helped the community gain the prominence it needed to attract a viable audience, which now includes Ivy League researchers.
If you’re looking for wide exposure for a quirky concept, consider YouTube as one of your first lines of defense against the doldrums of typical text-based online sharing. Innovative ideas often require more than words to describe.
Updated November 21, 2017.