What makes something satisfying to watch?

For me, it was watching my mum make Béchamel sauce… The sound of the butter bubbling in the pot, the flour turning a lovely shade of gold, the whole mixture then transitioning to a thick, pale and silky smooth sauce. There’s something mesmerizing, even meditative, about watching things transition from one state to another. In fact, watching things phase change, or watching order created from chaos provides a very satisfying feeling.

The human brain likes things that fit perfectly into other things. The human brain also likes to see patterns and systems, especially if those systems run to completion, leading to a predictable or expected outcome (an unexpected outcome would leave us feeling frustrated or upset). Finally, we like to see these changes happen right under our eyes.

In a  nutshell, we find symmetry, perfection, order (and close-ups) bring a sense of satisfaction. Unlike the picture below that will make our eyes tinkle because the brain is constantly trying – and failing – to identify a single face. The brain loves to identify patterns.

The rise of satisfying videos

Instagram –> As of April 2017, there were about 265,000 posts under the hashtag #satisfyingvideos on Instagram. There are now (October 2017) just under 640,000 posts under this hashtag! And this growing trend is happening all over social media networks, where searches rank from “mildly satisfying” to “oddly satisfying”.

YouTube –> “This latest YouTube phenomenon is taking off (…). In the last year there has been a huge uptake in searches for oddly satisfying content on YouTube. There are entire channels dedicated to it” – View in 2, YouTube

Let’s take the example of paint mixing. “We know that color mixing is trendy (…). I think the slow nature of those videos are different from what you typically see in your news feed,” said Juliet Tierney, manager of social and content systems for Arnold. “Those videos allow you to take a second out of your busy day and meditate.”

It seems that creative and bizarre binds us to the video. “We are seeing a very strong completion rate”, Juliet Tierney says. And that, in our opinion, means that the whole oddly satisfying trend is well worth exploring for your business!

The feelings of satisfaction and relaxation

Satisfying videos look very familiar to ASMR content (short for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) that take viewers to a calm and happy state through certain types of soft and ambient sounds, including soft whispering and crinkling paper.  Brands like KFC and Dove chocolate have created ASMR ads to tout consumers. KFC’s “Extra Crispy” Colonel (George Hamilton) is speaking in whispers and bites into pieces of KFC’s extra crispy skin whilst folding and scrunching squares or silk, whereas Dove chocolate takes the viewers on a very, say explicit, sensorial experience. The mood is set from the first few lines:

“Find a quiet spot and sit down comfortably.
Take a deep breath and relax.
Then put on your stereo headphones and get ready.
Your sensorial experience is about to begin.”

It’s all about the pleasure. According to Jessica Gall Myrick, an assistant professor at University of Indiana, there’s a scientific name for this, it’s called mood management theory. When human beings watch certain genres of media repeatedly, they start to associate that media with how it makes them feel – happy, relaxed or de-stressed.

Very recently, IKEA associated with Ogilvy in New York for their new campaign “Oddly IKEA”, showcasing back-to-school products for college dorms.  In the ad, a woman who isn’t ever fully shown displays various products and taps, fluffs and pushes on them so they make different soothing sounds to elicit a positive ASMR feeling for viewers.

 

Perception

When a person presents themselves as a figure of authority or an expert in a given field, the mind assumes that they are indeed a certified professional and credible person. It turns what they say into a fact, and that, too, is satisfying. This works in the videos as well.

Make it work for your business

According to YouTube / View in 2, this trend means that you should try and “trigger a sensorial response with video (…), update conventional product shots (…) and help viewers relax”.

  • How-to videos, product videos, explainer videos, demos, etc are all extremely well suited to this type of satisfying videos.
  • Present the product from an expert’s point of view
  • Background music helps here, but try and keep it to a low volume.
  • Vibrant colours, a variety of textures, whenever possible.
  • Close-up shots, slow motion and time lapse are here effective production techniques
  • Great quality audio (distinctive voice over, emphasized sound effects…)
  • Show processes/systems running to completion.

Got a brilliant product? Can’t wait to share it with the world? Why not embrace the oddly satisfying trend and add your own je ne sais quoi to make it more interesting? Let’s have a chat to see how we can make it happen.

Credits Elite Daily, AdWeek, Discover MagazineDIGIDAY and YouTube View in 2.