We've seen video marketing take off in recent years, and the reason is no surprise: Audiences across all demographics are gravitating toward video, especially the fast-action, short-form version produced specifically for social media. Of course, brands love to go where their audiences are--and audiences are spending an increasing amount of time watching video (32 percent more per year for the past five years) on social platforms.

The most effective video marketing does more than simply inform and educate: It combines powerful visuals and sound with well-chosen words to tap into our emotions--and that in turn compels us to take some kind of action. 

If you've been creating video for your channels and you're not seeing a whole lot of response (let alone racking up millions of views and conversions), chances are your video isn't making a strong enough emotional connection. Triggering a feeling--whether it's through humor or heartbreak, ensures your customers will remember your brand and act on your video

You don't necessarily have to elicit tears, Subaru dog commercial style, to earn those views and shares. Watch how these companies--big and micro--have successfully leveraged video by playing to the full range of human emotion.

1. Halo Top Uses Fear to Stun Viewers 

Newly popular ice cream brand Halo Top shocked viewers with its 90-second spot called "Eat the Ice Cream," showing an older woman being force-fed ice cream by a robot while an upbeat song plays in the background. 

The concept is meant to give a chilling feeling through its dark comedy. To date, the video has more than a million views on YouTube and received hundreds of thousands of shares on Facebook. It won bronze in the Epica Awards for humor in advertising and was featured as one of the top 10 best ads of 2017 by Adweek

Why It Works: This video achieved success because it plays into a strong emotion: fear. The comments--and there were plenty of them--express how the video was terrifying, dark, and similar to a Black Mirror episode. 

Ice cream is usually associated with light feelings like joy, so when Halo Top veered from traditional advertising, people were sitting on the edges of their seats. In a crowded marketplace, it is beneficial to do what it takes to stand out--even if it means making a video that is shockingly different. 

You can recreate this same shock factor in your videos to differentiate your brand from your competition and drive virality. Start by thinking about the feelings that are usually associated with your product category and surprise consumers by producing a video that generates opposing emotions.  

2. Notarize Delights People With Its Playful Ad

Notarize, a startup that allows people to get documents notarized online, did a humorous job of creating a video that explained how the app works and why it's different. The video has received almost 90,000 views on YouTube and comments from viewers calling it "brilliant" and "pure genius." 

Why It Works: Notarize surprised and delighted viewers by taking a subject (notary) that would put most people to sleep and making it entertaining. They used a healthy dose of humor that includes silly wigs, tacky backgrounds, and deadpan deliveries to make their video shine. Surely, they were inspired by Dollar Shave Club's legendary viral video from 2012, which is still praised for its outrageous and entertaining brand of humor. You can use similar tactics for your own brand to make a video that delivers impressive results on a low budget.

3. Nike Makes Viewers Laugh, Cry, and Burst With Pride

Nike created a stunning video called "Dream Crazier" at the end of February 2019, right before International Women's Day, touching on stereotypes female athletes face and encouraging women to fight back. It received over 50 million views across its social media platforms, with over 11 million views on YouTube alone. 

Why It Works: This video went viral because it gives people all the feels: disappointment and anger at the injustice women face and pride at watching them succeed in spite of these obstacles. Nike knows that gender discrimination is a universal topic affecting women all over the world and used this knowledge to create an inspiring, unifying video. While the video doesn't overtly sell any products, it tells viewers that Nike stands in support of women everywhere--and this no doubt translates to sales of Nike products.

4. A Family-Run Hardware Store Tugs Heartstrings Worldwide 

Hafod Hardware created a sentimental holiday video in one day for around $111--and it exploded. After just two months, it had racked up over two million views on YouTube and inspired viewers worldwide to make comments like "This is not an ad this is art" and "Never thought I'd cry watching a hardware store advertisement but here we are." 

Why It Works: This video touches on an emotion that makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside: nostalgia. Watching the video, viewers recall feeling like a child, when they used to play without a care in the world and didn't feel stressed out by work and busy schedules. By drawing on this emotion, consumers feel as though the business isn't trying to push an agenda or force its products. They feel connected to the business and would be happy to spend money there.  

This video shows it's possible to create a viral video--without much of a budget--by tapping on the emotions of viewers and focusing on what makes your company authentic and special.