So you want to create a video that will go viral? Wowing your audience with a great viral video that millions are going to watch is a tempting prospect.
Getting millions of views is certainly not easy. It can be done, but you need to know that most viral videos do not comply with common marketing rules and techniques.
A viral video surprises and captivates audiences. It may be funny, silly or just unconventional. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to make the perfect viral video!
What Are Viral Videos?
Viral videos are popular but what about it? Does that mean that every video that gets a few hundred thousand views has necessarily gone viral? Not always…
Although views are important, what’s probably more important is the buzz around the video. A viral video will not just be trending on YouTube. It will be on top of Reddit, tweeted on Twitter and shared on Facebook.
People will be talking about it everywhere. Some viral videos are even covered on the evening news.
Viral videos are not easily forgotten (think “Charlie bit my finger” and “Leave Britney Alone.”) Popular videos from 10+ years ago are still mentioned and referenced even today.
Your video doesn’t need to receive that much attention to be rendered viral, but it needs to make some kind of impact. It must get plenty of views, while also being shared and talked about in social media.
And here is where the viral video paradox comes into play. Most videos that receive millions of views on the Internet were not designed to go viral (excluding music videos and maybe BuzzFeed clips).
Keep that in mind when creating your own videos.
As in, forget the marketing that you’re used to. The Internet is a strange place filled with angry trolls and hateful comments. But there’s one thing that all users hate and agree that it’s OK to hate on: ads.
Don’t start talking features, benefits or pricing. Don’t try to promote your product or service (well, not directly at least). Traditional marketing tactics don’t make for a good viral video.
Think about it. When was the last time you shared an ad with one of your friends? Now think of the last time you shared a funny or creative video.
The truth is you don’t even need to mention your product or service at all. Just the name of your brand or company on the video title should be enough to lead people back to you.
You want people to be talking about your video. If you make it look too commercial, chances are people will not want to share it (It probably won’t be as good as Flex Tape anyway).
When it comes to viral videos, you need to think outside the box. How can we surprise and spark the Internet’s interest? How can we promote our brand without creating a traditional video ad?
The Secret Recipe
Sadly, there’s no secret recipe for video success. The Internet is constantly changing and what worked in the past may not work in the future.
That being said, most viral videos share some common features:
Viral Video Step One
They are usually short and to-the-point. We are bombarded with information on a daily basis. Some of it is good but a large part of it is completely useless in the greater scheme of things. Who comes on top? Short videos that are specially designed for our limited attention span.
No one wants to watch a 30-minute real-time recipe video when they can just go to google and search for the recipe itself (which will probably take less than a minute).
However, if said video is shorter (much, much shorter), then one might just watch it anyway, especially if they are interested and the video pops up on their News Feed.
Viral Video Step Two
They usually tell a story. Inspirational and motivational content that tells a story is likely to be watched and shared. Focus on a single message and deliver strong emotions.
Google’s video titled Homeward Bound tells the story of an orphan who used Google Maps to find his birth mother. It’s a heartfelt story that’s bound to evoke strong emotions.
Viral Video Step Three
They provide value. Traditional video ads are based on the ancient T.V. ad ideology: If the telly says so it must be true. Focus is placed on a “make money fast” attitude that undermines the audience’s intelligence.
Rather than bombarding viewers with buy-one-get-one-free promotions, try to offer them something you know they’ll value: give them a useful tip or tell them something interesting that they didn’t know before.
Viral Video Step Four
Are all about powerful headlines. The Internet is literally filled with millions of videos. Above all, you want viewers to be clicking your videos—duh! You could use clickbait (hello Buzzfeed), but you don’t have to.
The title should be short and to-the-point but should also catch the viewer’s attention. The thumbnail is also extremely important. It’s the first thing someone sees and can really make or break a video. Don’t clutter your thumbnail with unnecessary text.
Viral Video Step Five
Are optimised for social sharing. Formatting is more important than you’d think. In fact, many brands reformat and repurpose their videos depending on the publishing platform.
For example, about 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound. This means that if you’re publishing videos on Facebook, you probably shouldn’t create content that relies on audio to deliver a message.
Most users view Facebook content using their mobile device so that’s another thing you need to keep in mind when formatting content for Facebook.
You could do everything right, create the perfect video and still never go viral. It happens all the time and honestly, it sucks. The timing must also be right and a little bit of luck is necessary.
That being said, you can ensure that your video will do better by coming up with something original and unexpected. Most viral videos are either very original, use shock tactics, or somehow manage to combine the two.
If there really was a secret formula for creating the perfect viral video then everyone would be using it and all videos would be viral. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.
At the end of the day, what you really want as a marketer is to reach out to potential customers and make your product or service more visible.
Going viral is one way to ensure maximum exposure, but how do you know your video will convert and not just become another meme?
Any exposure is good exposure but a viral video is not always the answer. You may not need a viral video, especially if you’re running a small business and already know your audience and what they want to see from you.
Want to know how to create the perfect Facebook video ad? Check out our Facebook video ad guide now!