Thrillist also tried to figure out why the Smith & Forge video resonated with Facebook viewers.
“A lot of prank videos make people feel bad or set them up in a position to fail,” said Bill McCandless, the SVP of video programming. “No one is embarrassed [in this video]. They encourage him.”
The video aligns with best practices for Facebook.
Thrillist tagged “Smith & Forge” in the Facebook video post. In April, Facebook went from not officially allowing publications to post branded videos to permitting them as long as publications tagged the brand.
Tagging the brand clearly did not affect reach, and Thrillist so far hasn’t see branded videos treated differently by Facebook’s algorithm.
Thrillist also customized the video to compensate for the fact that many users quickly scroll through videos and watch without sound. Though the video goes on for 3 1/2 minutes, the first 15 seconds work as a complete joke of its own: the grandpa lifting a huge weight and quipping, “Just warming up.”
The highly visual prank works even with the sound off, and Thrillist added subtitles to accommodate viewers watching without sound.
“When we look frame by frame, it’s to make decisions to get people from three seconds to 10 seconds to 30 seconds,” McCandless said. We are happy to get videos that retain the audience versus something that massively shares.”
Even with a massive hit under its belt, Thrillist isn’t promising virality – which is more exception than the norm. However, Thrillist usually pays to amplify branded posts on Facebook. “The danger in viral is trying to replicate,” McCandless said.
Instead, Thrillist emphasizes the alignment it can achieve with its audience. “One of the most impactful things we can do for a brand is naturally fit them into what we are doing,” Josephsen said.