For marketing professionals, understanding the latest social media trends is a must, and few trends have shined as brightly over the last couple of years as ASMR video. In fact, Google reported that there’s more Search interest on YouTube for “ASMR” than for “Candy” or “Chocolate”.
However, answering the question, “what is ASMR?” can be complicated to grasp due to the subjective nature of how it is experienced. To help clear this up, here’s a ListenFirst explainer with everything you need to know about ASMR video.
What Does ASMR Mean?
ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response which means a pleasurable tingling feeling usually on the scalp that moves down the back of a person’s neck and spine. What triggers it varies from person to person, but it often involves whispering, scratching, tapping, and vocal fry. Aside from the physical manifestations, these videos are said to create a feeling of intimacy and connectedness in the people experiencing it. Despite its clinical sounding unabbreviated name, it is not clinical in origins.
How Did ASMR Get Named?
ASMR has existed as an unnamed experience long before the social media age. The PBS show ‘The Joy Of Painting’, featuring Bob Ross’ calming voice talking about painting happy little trees, has long been viewed as a precursor to official ASMR. However, the sensation actually got its name from a Facebook Group. In 2009, a woman named Jennifer Allen found on a Steady Health forum thread named WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD – PART 2 that other people were experiencing the same feeling as she was. Emboldened by that revelation, she created a Facebook Group called ASMR Group, coining the phrase in February 2010.
How Did This Become A YouTube Phenomena?
The first ASMR video on YouTube is widely believed to be an audio-only recording called Whisper 1 – hello! by the user now named WhisperingLife ASMR, which was uploaded in March 2009. While that particular video wasn’t optimized for SEO and is mostly a historical footnote, interest in the genre quickly snowballed. By the end of 2009, there were at least 13 new ASMR channels added to YouTube, with that growing to at least 72 new ASMR channels added to the platform in 2012. By April 2019, there were at least 13 million videos dedicated to ASMR on YouTube.
The reason that ASMR videos became so popular so quickly is simply because people find them relaxing. With people often listening to fall asleep, these videos can be hours long in some cases and, because different people are triggered by different things, there’s a wide variety of ASMR content that the YouTube audience is interested in. Some sub-genres that are popular include slime videos, cosplay and roleplaying, and clips from movies and TV that are often unintentionally ASMR.
What Is The Science Behind It?
From the perspective of science, there’s a lot more we don’t know about ASMR than we do. Craig Richard, professor in the Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences at Shenandoah University in Virginia, theorizes that brain chemicals like endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin may be involved in the reaction people have to ASMR triggers. Additionally, a 2018 study by the University of Sheffield found that of the people who were triggered by ASMR videos, their heart rates lowered by an average of 3.14 beats, and they showed an increased amount of positive emotions and social connectivity. What scientists still haven’t been able to figure out is why some people get triggered and some people never experience these sensations no matter how many of these videos they view.
Is ASMR Relevant For Brands?
For sure! Brands such as IKEA, Reese Canada, Gucci, Michael Kors, and Applebee’s Grill & Bar have all experimented with using ASMR on social media, while media brands like Netflix’s ‘The Haunting of Hill House and The Grinch movie have also used it in promotional social media clips. Any social media content that feels fresh and different is going to help brands stand out, and as we’ve previously reported, there’s no question that ASMR content on Instagram outperforms non-ASMR content. For more information about how to produce the best ASMR videos on social media, read our best practice blog posts for consumer brands and media and entertainment brands.
If you’re like me, you may not be able to experience the effects of ASMR, but you don’t have to be triggered to understand the huge marketing benefits of using this type of brand content. Working with a social media data analytics resource like ListenFirst, brands will remain ahead of the curve in identifying relevant and actionable social media trends.