Council Post: Five Things We Learned From Creating A Viral Video

By Jon Clark, managing partner at Moving Traffic Media, a New York digital agency offering PPC and SEO services.

According to Cisco, by 2021, it would take you over 5 million years to watch all the video streamed across global IP networks in just one month. With that much competition, luck alone isn’t going to get you very far. It almost always requires some strategy to make a viral video.

I’ve made viral videos before, and here are the strategies worked for me.

Get Emotional

We’re constantly one notification away from being pulled in a different direction. We expect distraction, and our attention spans are short. So, you need to grab attention fast. How? Emotion. 

The emotional elements of irony, surprise and laughter made HubSpot’s list of eight common characteristics of viral videos. Emotion also encourages people to share or engage because it resonates with them on a personal level. 

Be Mobile Friendly

Many people who view videos from their phones share them with others. This tells us that mobile users are essential to viral success. So, how do you grab mobile users’ attention? With the first frame.

When was the last time you saw a viral cooking video with a chef just standing there in the first frame? Never! These videos are promoted with the first frame showing some exciting part of the cooking process to get attention. This instantly tells the viewer, “I have something to show you.”

Video content also needs to be consumable without sound. Mobile users aren’t always in a place where audio is appropriate. They might be in a public place or just not want the distraction of sound. 

This doesn’t mean creating silent videos. But, it’s smart to go back once you’ve finished your video and edit it with the sound off. That way, you’re approaching the editing process from the perspective of how people are likely to consume it. You should strongly consider including closed captioning or some kind of transcription.

Be Useful

Sure, the occasional gimmicky video will get viral attention, but you’re appealing to real people with real-world needs. Video content that offers solutions, makes people’s lives easier or makes them happy is what goes viral.

Want proof? Take a look at this example from the YouTube Channel Wendy’s Lookbook. The channel, which is filled with videos of practical fashion advice, has over 637,000 subscribers. One of her most viral videos is “25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes.” The concept is insanely practical, and the title of the video cuts straight to the point. At 4.5 minutes, it wins the trifecta of viral qualities. 

Just how many views has this video received? As of now, well over 44 million. 

The takeaway here is that you don’t need to try too hard to develop a viral video concept. Focus on what you do best and offer something practical that nobody else is providing to your audience. 

We Were Shameless

There’s something that happens with a lot of viral video content. It sits around for a while, barely squeaking by with engagement. Then suddenly it lands in front of the right person. And then boom! Instant viral hit. What made the difference was that someone in the right market discovered the video. And the key to putting your video in front of the right market is shameless promotion. 

This starts with knowing everything about your target audience and building video content for their viewer persona. You need to get in there, find out what they’re all about and figure out what they need from you. Once you have this, promoting your video is easy. 

But, don’t wait to do this; start by doing this. Start early by giving your target audience a sneak peek. Make them curious, and lure them in. Get them excited about your brand so that they’re excited to share your videos. 

We Took Advice

Viral video creation is not a one-size-fits-all deal. Your market, message and success are different from everybody else’s. There are people out there who can look at your business, see it through a unique perspective and give you insights about yourself that you’ve never thought of before. 

Viral video content requires looking at things through a lens other than your own to get started. Sometimes, a little push is exactly what you need. So, I’m pushing you: What’s your plan for creating the next viral video?

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