How to Give Your Video a Case of the Virals

You want your video to go viral. That means it has to touch a LOT of people. So, how do you take an innocent video and turn it into the life of the party? No, not through massive amounts of alcohol; through the right mix of charm and skill.

Viral, Diagnosed

What does it mean to go “viral”? In terms of online video, a video can “amplify itself through its” spread across the Internet and/or to morph into other similar things (e.g., parodies and spoofs of the original video), both of which advance the impact of the original video.

common cold stuffed animal
Above: the common cold

Viral videos don’t always have a rhyme or reason; it seems they either have a whole lot of strategy behind them (for example, those created by a company for marketing) or that certain “je ne sais quoi” that strikes a chord in people and spreads like wildfire with little planning.

Let’s take, for example, a company known as Visible Measures. They were a company that specialized in making videos go viral. Companies like Visible Measures and a handful of others are making entire careers out of making a framework for viral video strategy. In fact, Visible Measures has mapped out a formula for studying and measuring the effects of videos, based on criteria like placements, views, and sentiment analysis. Check out this graph of the company’s methodology:

Visible Measures viral video methodology
TrueReach is trademarked by Visible Measures, used here for illustration purposes only.

Homemade vs. Agency-Made Videos

You might be surprised to know that many of the viral videos we see today are no accident. The Old Spice videos sweeping the Internet are courtesy of global ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, headquartered in Portland, Ore. Clients of this agency include other brand giants like Nike, Coca-Cola, Levis, Target, and the list goes on.

On the other hand, you have videos that go viral accidentally simply because they make people laugh. A great example is the following clip of an extremely dramatic animal with a vengeance only a ninja can appreciate. And while this poor creature has been called everything from a hamster to a chipmunk; it’s actually a prairie dog. And it’s hysterical.

So regardless of your intentions and budget, don’t let anything hold you back from putting those videos out there and experimenting with what works. Luckily, there’s a wealth of information on the Internet about how to make videos that have the potential to go viral.

Tips to Make Videos Go Viral

Use the Resources You’ve Got
Don’t have a camera or a budget? It’s OK, you can still make videos with pictures and sound through Windows Movie Maker. There are a number of platforms available that can also help you automate your video creation with automatic text-to-video creation.

Cater to Impatient People
Adult ADD seems rampant these days; consider how long your video is going to be and understand when attention spans begin to wane. Theories exist that videos should be somewhere between 15 seconds and two minutes long.

Be Trendy

Viral videos have multilayer trends. One facet is the type of video (how it’s shot or created), and the other is the subject matter. So, you must be keen on pop culture to strike when it’s hot.  SlayingSocial.com reported that the latest TikTok video trends include the following:

  • Smug Corgi/Confused Dog Meme Trend,
  • “I Don’t Know if I Like It” Trend,
  • “Hesitant Fiancee Painting” Trend
  • Dancing Clap “Work It Out” Trend

Among other trends that are happening in current viral videos.

Make a Series
Creating a series based on a complex topic can help keep people engaged and directly involved in the brand. For example, you could take a “choose your own adventure” approach to a video and create a series based on that. There’s another series on TikTok that involves safe-hunters who go around doing nothing but opening safes, in the hope of finding a long-lost treasure to capitalize on. Identifying these types of trends in certain series can help keep people paying attention to where it matters: on your brand.

Ride the Wave of Someone Else’s Success
Go ahead, be a poser. Your video can go viral simply for copying someone else’s brilliant idea or adding a fresh take on it. Check out the 1 million plus views on Mike Relm’s Old Spice Remix:

Personalize Your Brand
Use humor to shed new light on your brand or a prominent figure within your company. But first, understand who your audience is and who you’re targeting. Sure, everyone loves a good laugh, but humor varies across populations. So, know what types of comedy your audience will respond to.

Take a Risk
What is the wildest idea you have for a video? Don’t rule it out. It might take some negotiation for executive-level buy-in, but bring stats and case studies of those who have taken a chance and found success. You might be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. And if not, you’re making progress through testing.

Choose Your Hosts
Figure out where you are going to host your videos online. YouTube and Vimeo are great places to host your videos. Also, you may even consider your own site. But, if you want to get greater exposure and opportunities for traffic, use YouTube. Vimeo is not on as large of a scale as YouTube, so we recommend hosting on YouTube. Also, you may want to follow some video optimization best practices.

Optimize the Title
With more and more video results being the norm these days in Google SERPs, take full advantage of using strategic keywords in your titles when uploading your video to sites like YouTube. Try the Google Adwords keyword selection tool, or we even have one here at Bruce Clay, Inc. that’s part of our SEOToolSet® called the Search Engine Optimization/KSP Tool.

Spread the Word
Start sharing the video in your communities. Begin with friends and people in your industry. Use social networks and bloggers to get the word out. Promote it on your website and through newsletters, and any other promotional materials you might have. The key is to capitalize on every resource you have in the beginning and be relentless.

Build a Community
Ronald Jenkees has a loyal following because he knows the value of his community. And you can feel the loyalty of his fan base by reading their comments, which is just reinforced by his genuine appreciation for them. I’m super obsessed with Stay Crunchy right now, by the way. How can you not love this guy?

To build community, respond to your fans’ comments, get them involved in ideas for more videos, and so on. Don’t have any comments on your video yet? Think about starting a controversial comment exchange between yourself and your colleagues to get things going.

And here are some additional tips on garnering views and building community from a lad with a mask and an English accent, Scary Skelator. Tips one, two and four are most relevant to the community aspect.

Measure and Track Success

ROI from videos is a very real possibility. Did you know that nearly 86% of businesses use video now as a valuable marketing tool? But, it’s not enough to randomly pump out 15 videos a day in the hopes that something eventually sticks. You must think about things like trends, what’s currently popular, what’s driving video views, and other elements of successful video marketing campaigns.

People like Ronald Jenkees are able to sell their music from viral videos they create – he was even asked to make the theme song for the podcast of Bill Simmons of ESPN. Maybe your success will be measured by driving traffic and conversions on your site. Whatever the goal, consider using tools to track your accomplishments. One service you might consider is from TubeMogul.

Now go forth and make those videos! And if you have any tips on what’s worked for you in the past, please join the discussion and share a comment below.

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FAQ: How can I make my video go viral and achieve widespread popularity?

Achieving the elusive status of “going viral” is a coveted goal. Creating a video that captures the collective imagination of the internet and spreads like wildfire is a combination of creativity, strategy, and a dash of luck. This whitepaper aims to guide you through the intricacies of making your video go viral and achieve widespread popularity.

Creating viral content is akin to harnessing a lightning strike. It’s unpredictable but not entirely left to chance. To increase your chances of achieving virality, consider the following strategies:

  1. Exceptional Content is Key

The foundation of a viral video is, unsurprisingly, the content itself. The video should be engaging, relatable, and, above all, exceptional. Consider your target audience, and craft your video to resonate with their interests and emotions. Unique, heartwarming, or humorous content often gets shared more frequently.

  1. Understand Your Audience

Knowing your audience is paramount. Research what they like, what trends they follow, and what content they engage with the most. Tailor your video to cater to their preferences, ensuring that it speaks directly to them.

  1. The Element of Surprise

Viral videos often have an element of surprise. Whether it’s an unexpected twist, an extraordinary talent, or a hilarious punchline, adding an element of unpredictability can capture viewers’ attention.

  1. Leverage Social Media

The distribution of your video is as crucial as its creation. Utilize various social media platforms to share your video. Pay attention to the platform’s algorithms and best practices for each, as they differ from one to another

  1. Engage Your Audience

Engage viewers by inviting them to like, share, and comment on your video. This demonstrates its worth to viewers on the platform it exists on and encourages you to promote it to a broader audience.

  1. Timing Matters

Be mindful of when you release your video. Timeliness can significantly impact your video’s virality. Capitalize on current events, holidays, or trends that align with your content.

  1. Collaborate and Cross-Promote

Partner with influencers or other content creators to increase your video’s visibility. Cross-promotion can expand your reach and introduce your content to a new audience.

  1. Optimize for Mobile

A significant portion of internet users access content via mobile devices. Ensure your video is mobile-friendly, with subtitles for silent viewers and attention-grabbing visuals.

Achieving viral status is an exciting yet challenging endeavor. Successful viral videos require a combination of great content, an understanding of your audience, smart distribution methods, and some luck. Not every video will go viral, but by applying these strategies, you can increase the odds.

Keep experimenting, refining your content, and learning from the responses to your videos. Virality may be unpredictable, but with the right approach and a dose of creativity, you can enhance your chances of making your video go viral and achieve widespread popularity.

This article was updated on November 24, 2023.

Jessica Lee is the founder and chief creative for bizbuzzcontent Inc., a marketing boutique that focuses on digital content strategy and professional writing services for businesses.

See Jessica's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (9)
Filed under: Social Media Marketing
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9 Replies to “How to Give Your Video a Case of the Virals”

Well, this is from my observation. I’m looking at it from a consumer’s perspective. From the first couple of seconds of seeing an ad, I already want to know what the product is, what it is for, and what’s the pitch that they want to convey. Now, that leaves enough room for me to absorb the intention of the advertiser, as I watch the remainder of the ad.

Good point. Who do you think has done a good job of that? Can you share some videos?

People, especially when it comes to marketing tend to miss out on the obvious. From what I’ve noticed, the main catalyst for the success of these viral videos is their simplicity, and “straight to the point” style of marketing.

Interesting, what do you mean exactly?

This movie stands out as the best viral video I’ve seen, and it’s what I consider the benchmark in creating quality video content (for the web)

What’s in the Box? http://youtu.be/IU_reTt7Hj4

Chris, awesome video! Thanks for sharing.

Here’s an interview with the filmmakers of that video, in case anyone is interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8rRb4z0gVA&feature=related

The best part is they used references and sound clips from the game Half Life… for a couple days, the entire game industry (including me) thought it was the start of an Alternate Reality Game (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Zero_%28game%29) by Valve.

Wow, crazy. Extremely creative with the resources they had, if you ask me. Guess they received calls from Hollywood — wonder what ever came of it.

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