Viral videos are a huge buzzword in several industries, particularly when you start to overlap video and business. Everybody wants their video to be the next huge viral video. But nobody seems to exactly know how.
First, let’s examine what a viral video really is. Most will say that it is a video that has tens of millions of views. That’s perfectly fine, but as a definition, it falls flat. Is a video of two kittens talking viral? While popular (and proving my theory that the internet is made of cats) it is not exceptionally useful. There is no message. It doesn’t have any substance. It is not anything that advertisers can use.
I propose that a better definition is this: A Viral Video is a video that obtains significantly more views than expected in a given timeframe. What does this mean? It means that if you expect to get a thousand views in a month, and suddenly you get ten million, your video is viral. There is no defined number of exactly how many views constitute a viral status. It is like Sorites Paradox: exactly how many grains of sand are in a heap? How many views make your video viral? While there’s no answer for this question, a better way to describe a viral video is:
When a video is shared by many people, then re-shared by those contacts, and repeated ad infinitum, then the views exponentially multiply, akin to a virus.
However, there are other things to consider when making a video to go viral. Sheer popularity is not the only measurable thing. There are thousands of videos on YouTube that have been viewed millions of times, but only a few of those are worthwhile. There are tons of cat videos that have achieved viral status, but there are also many useful or informative videos. If you’re getting across a message or an advertisement, you have to incorporate good techniques to make it worth your time and energy.
What exactly do you have to do? The video should look good. Everything should be in focus. Subjects should be well lit. Sound quality should be excellent. The video should not drag on and on. In short, it should look professional. But these are just the makings of a good video. What’s different about a viral video?
Viral videos are three things, above all else: creative, entertaining, and unique. The visual aesthetics have to look better than the other videos that populate YouTube. The video should be entertaining enough to catch the viewers attention to make them want to watch and share it with others. And, it has to be unique enough to not copy other videos that seasoned YouTube watchers may have already seen. Above all, you have to make sure the video tells a good short story. Like I have explained before in several other blogs, story is key; without it, you just have some fluff. Write a short script and get responses from everyone you can. Preferably, get feedback from the right demographic. Generally, humor will make a good short even better. One thing that several viral videos have in common is that they are incredibly short. Most are under 45 seconds. Cut it down to size without sacrificing quality.
Do Not Forget: You’re trying to make a video with a message. If you’re halfway through shooting and you realize that the message has somehow been lost, go back to square one and try again. One other thing that you should do is make sure that your video tells the message you intended. Although they say that bad advertising is better than no advertising at all, good advertising multiplied across many viewers will be astounding.
Okay, your video is complete; it looks good, it’s funny, and applicable to your audience. Now what? Now comes the hard part. You now have to get as many people to watch your video as possible.
How can you make as many people watch this awesome video as possible? Well, if you’ve done the previous part right, you should have a good amount of content that will help you reach your target market. If you’re aiming for a certain demographic, make sure that this video interests them. When you’re still in the scripting phase, ask people in your target demographic for feedback.
Once you’ve ensured that this video will reach them, now you just have to spread it around. Everywhere. Post it on YouTube, Dailymotion and other video hosting sites. Then share it through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Digg, Stumbleupon, and as many other social media sharing sites that you can. Ask all your friends, family, coworkers, and any social media contacts to do the same, and then have those people re-post it everywhere. Hopefully if you’ve done well, and you know enough people, and you’re a bit lucky, you’ll be able to get a video with heaps of views.
I’m going to make it a personal goal of mine to make a video intentionally go viral. I will post updates as it happens.
Special thanks to Candies Liu for letting me pick her brain. Check her out.