How to Create a Viral Video for Social Media
16 Sep 2020
23 Nov 2018
"Video killed the radio star" couldn’t be truer than when it comes to making your marketing message go viral.
Rewind a decade and banner ads, pop-ups, email blasts, and infomercials were all the rage to get the word out about a brand. But thanks to YouTube, social media, and mobile phones—that are actually mini-computers—people around the globe have fallen in love with consuming video content and sharing the more interesting, funny and engaging videos. Throw a cat or a baby dancing into the mix and it’s almost a guarantee it would go viral with millions of people viewing it all over the world.
And these powerful viral videos aren’t reserved for just consumers anymore. Brands are getting into the game, creating commercials and video content they hope will resonate with the masses and hopefully amass a lot of shares. After all, if people are talking about your brand it can translate into increased sales—the holy grail of all marketing efforts. According to research by Small Biz Trends, 77% of consumers have purchased a product or service because of a video they viewed.
But marketers have to be careful in their quest to have their video reach that viral status. Make it too sales-y and it won't go viral. Get attention for the wrong reason and it can offend some consumers, resulting in boycotts and lost sales. If the National Rifle Association posted a pro-gun video in the wake of a school shooting, it’s going to get attention but for all the wrong reasons.
From telling a compelling story to spreading the word everywhere, here’s a look at how to go viral with your marketing video.
Facebook alone has 2 billion users, so standing out—let alone getting a video to go viral—on the Internet can be difficult. After all, that’s only one social media platform where tons of brands are competing for consumers attention. Add YouTube and other social media sites to the mix and your video had better be compelling to get the desired shares. That means creating a video that provides accurate information, elicits a human reaction and is relatable to the audience you're targeting.
Whether the video makes consumers happy, sad, or mad, the idea is to create a video that viewers will want to share and talk about. Take the Dallas Zoo’s video of a breakdancing gorilla. Not only did it get over 3 million views and shares, it also built brand name recognition for the enterprise.
We live in a world where people focus on something online for minutes or seconds at a time before they move on to the next distraction. That can be a difficult environment for any marketer trying to get their video viewed let alone shared enough to reach viral status. That’s why it’s very important to keep the video short and sweet. Take five minutes to get to the compelling point of a video and you have lost your audience and a chunk of your customer base. Take the breakdancing gorilla video again: it was under 30 seconds in length. The quicker you draw them in the better chance you’ll have of them watching the whole video and sharing it with their friends.
Reaching the masses with a viral video doesn’t mean putting it on one platform and praying for the best. To get the attention of consumers with short attention spans, you have to be everywhere—from social media to YouTube and any other place you can think of. Your video should be on your brand’s website, shared on social media and even embedded on partner websites if possible. The more the video is out there the greater the chance that people will not only view it but share it with their network.
It's important to know both your current and your potential customer base when spreading the word about your video. After all, you wouldn’t want to spend too much time getting the video noticed on Snapchat if none of your customers are on the platform and you know you have no chance of appealing to new ones there. If your customers are older, sharing the video in an email newsletter may be a better strategy. Younger people may only view things on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook so you have to know where to post to get the most attention. Is it on only one platform? Is it on all of them?
Getting the video posted on an influencer’s blog can also be a huge way to get attention. These Internet personalities have a large following that will act, travel, and shop based on their posts and opinions. Trying to connect and work with them can be a surefire way to make your video go viral without too much effort on your part.
One of the proven ways to go viral with a video is to add a human(e) touch to it. Including real people in your video almost always makes it more relatable. Research has proven that including people into a video drives twice as many views than those without it—viewers don’t want to spend time looking at a product but they will take the time if they feel connected to the person in the video. Take a makeup video for example. Showing concealer in the bottle isn’t as powerful as watching someone apply it and successfully cover blemishes and imperfections.
Add real people to the mix and it will be even more powerful. Take Airbnb as another example. Their videos are full of people living life and traveling rather than focusing on the decorations and floor plans of the homes people can stay at.
For marketers with big budgets, celebrities can be a way to get their content to go viral. But again, the video still has to be compelling and relatable in order for it to go viral. A celebrity simply endorsing a product isn’t going to be enough to go viral—but that celebrity using it in a funny or interesting way will.
Thanks to software and the ability to analyze data today, it's very easy to track the performance of a video. Brands are able to measure shares, likes, and engagement, learning how long a person views a video and how often it gets shared. That data should be embraced, not ignored. After all, armed with that information, you can tweak, improve upon or maybe abandon a piece of video content that isn’t working. At the same time, it can help you understand which videos work and why. While lots of marketers like to go with their gut instincts, the data can often tell a better story, which is why paying attention to it matters a lot.
Standing out on the Internet can be tough, but trying to make a piece of video content go viral can seem downright impossible. The good news: it's been done—and done successfully. The videos that do go viral follow a few important principles when developing new content. They keep it short, compelling, relatable, and relevant. They may shock but they don't offend and they keep the sales out of it. Follow these best practices and you too can be on your way to creating content that gets seen by millions of people on the Web.
Mark Vrudukay is a marketing consultant for small and medium businesses, specializing in digital and video marketing.
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