What Makes a Video Go Viral

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Did you know that the most popular video on YouTube has a whopping 6.7 billion views? That’s pretty remarkable if you think about it.

Viral videos are considered the jackpot of content marketing. They hold the key to turning a little-known brand into a household name overnight. It’s a slam-dunk. Just produce an awesome video, post it on YouTube, and wait for the magic to happen. If only it were that easy.

The reality is, less than half all the videos on YouTube hardly ever get past the 1,000-view mark. The real question is – what makes a video go viral? What can you learn from the best viral videos on the internet that can help you in your business’ marketing efforts?

This article seeks to uncover the answers to these questions and more.

Viral Video Definition

The world “viral” describes the self-replicating way in which a message spreads from one user to hundreds of thousands, millions, or even billions of other people. A viral video is essentially a video that spreads in this manner.

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In this type of internet-based marketing, a message is picked up by one user who then shares it across their social networks. The majority of the recipients of the message then repeat this same process, which results in an unprecedented number of people viewing the message within a very short duration.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, not exactly. For one thing, not every type of media has the potential to self-replicate in this way. Any successful viral video campaign needs to have a high “shareability” value. It needs to make people want to send it to other users. The more times it is shared, the more likely for it to go viral.

This begs the question – Is there a threshold? Well, it depends on who you ask. The one thing the majority of marketing experts seem to agree on is that it is more about the rate at which the content is consumed, rather than the overall quantity of people who consume the content. Perhaps it’s a combination of both, to be quite honest.

So, a piece of content that receives 50,000 hits in 3 hours, for instance, could be considered “viral” as opposed to one that receives 1 million views spread over one year.

What Makes a Video Go Viral

Now that you understand what it is, the next phase involves figuring out how to make a viral video. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Ensure That It Evokes Emotion

The common denominator in the best viral videos is that they all evoke emotion. They need to be able to make viewers feel something. It can be happy, hilarious, sad, educational, or even controversial; a little controversy never hurt anyone. As long as it shines a positive light on your brand, then you’re good.

You have to create a video that will make people want to share it along. Remember this 2012 ad that went viral? The company went from being a startup that nobody knew about, to amassing a net value of $615 million in a little under three years. The system works.

2. Don’t Make It Too “Salesy”

There’s something about hard-selling a product that just puts potential customers off. It not only makes you sound desperate – which isn’t a good look in general – but also makes prospective buyers develop negative feelings towards your brand. No one likes to feel like they’re being badgered into buying something.

If your video goes viral, chances are, it’s the first time people watching it will become aware of your brand. So, avoid coming off too “salesy.” Instead, think outside the box and find a fun and creative way to highlight your business’ USPs. Don’t forget to make it entertaining.

3. Have a Kickass Marketing Plan as Well

You need to treat this type of video just like you would any other marketing technique you employ. You need to figure out a way to give it enough of a head start to get it going.

If you sent it to 100 people on your subscriber list and only 50% of them shared it with one other person, it would likely take a while before it gained any traction. If, on the other hand, you shared it on a social media platform that had a 1-million-subscriber fan-base, it would likely spread like wildfire.

This would, in turn, send social signals to search engines like Google and Bing that the content is relevant, and in turn, rank it among their top “recommendations.” The whole premise of developing a solid marketing plan involves determining where to plant the initial seed to generate buzz.

4. Ensure That It Aligns With the Rest of Your Marketing Strategy

Picture this: You commission a video that ends up going viral in a matter of days. But, when visitors land on your website to learn more about your brand, they bounce after a couple of seconds.

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If your site looks bland and has outdated content, it doesn’t inspire anyone to want to take any kind of action while they’re there. All the social relevance you’ll have gained will remain just that – social relevance. There’ll be no monetary value you’ll get from it in the end. To avoid suffering this fate, make sure that:

  • Your website is SEO-ready
  • You have captivating content both on your site and social media
  • Your brand is visible on search engines
  • Your YouTube video SEO is up to date to allow it to rank for specific keywords.

If you sell products, ensure that you line all your ducks in a row to convert every lead into a paying customer.

5. Keep It Short

It’s a viral video, not a documentary. If you want viewers to watch it to the end, you need to keep it short. Videos that are typically between 1 and 2 minutes long tend to have the highest level of engagement.

You Can’t Stop Creativity

No one, not even the best content marketing agencies in the world, can guarantee that a video will go viral. What they can do, however, is create a solid framework that significantly increases the odds of this happening.

So, what makes a video go viral? Well, it takes a whole lot of creativity, a robust team of out-of-the-box thinkers, and a solid marketing strategy to make it all work.

If you need help creating a viral video to complement your marketing efforts, today to show you how.