A Quarter of Branded Video Shares Happen in the First Three Days: Unruly's Social Diffusion Curve

Unruly is sharing what they call the "social diffusion curve," which shows the relative life of a video after it is launched.  Unruly found that the "viral peak" of a video's launch is on the second day, where 1 out of every 10 shares will occur during the course of a video's life.  A full quarter of the entire shares will happen in the first three days, and by three weeks, it will have had half.  The Unruly study shows the importance of getting a video passed around in the first three days.  The more it is shared in its early period, the more it will be shared over the long term.

Unruly's Social Diffusion Curve

Here's a graphic showing how this curve works:

unruly social diffusion

They show a correlation between a video's shares days 1-3, 1-6, and all-time, which basically means that the success of an entire video is built on those first three days.  While I have talked about "long tail" in the past being an overlooked aspect of a video's success, it likely would be nothing if not for a successful initial launch.  Very few videos have that "nothing" and then become "something" later, although there are of course famous examples (Double Rainbow was nothing for about 6 months until "tastemakers" stumbled upon it and spread the word).

Unruly based the Social Diffusion Curve on the 200 most shared branded videos of 2012.

Here's how the life of a popular video goes:

  • 10% of shares occur on day two
  • 25% of shares occur in the first three days
  • 50% of shares occur within the first three weeks
  • 66% of shares occur in the first three months
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There you go, guys.  The key data here for brands is get the word out early and often when it comes to a successful video launch.