Many people want to know the big secret to make a video go viral, but the truth is, there is no magic trick.
There is a clear formula and plenty of tips and tricks to make videos, gifs, Tumblr accounts, or pretty much anything go viral.
Viral videos may appear to be up to chance at times, or to have big budgets behind, celebrity-packed clips sweeping the web seem to be fluke videos that grab people’s attention and swarm like wildfire, but as the Guardian explores in its seven golden rules of viral videos, simple tricks such as building an emotional roller-coaster, or kicking off with a bang, are essential ingredients in most viral videos.
But besides the actual content of your video, marketing is probably the most important ingredient to make a video go viral. Here are some basic tips to make a video go viral:
Make it share-able
Regardless of the content of the video, what matters most is how it travels.
This is the single most important tip in virality. The internet matters because word travels fast. Sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy have become one of the most valuable websites because of how share-able the content is.
Virality is built through shares, and if your viewers have to struggle to spread the word, you are seriously hampering your video’s viral chances. Make it as easy as possible for them to spread your video across the web by inserting social media sharing links in intuitive spots under the video and encouraging shares immediately after the video finishes. Often, a viewer will click away within seconds, but a quick encouragement to share could make the difference between virality and internet nothingness.
Look at the prominent sharing options around Upworthy’s videos.
Make it like-able
In order for people to want to share your video, it must be something people want to share. In other words, make it like-able! We don’t just mean making it easy to like on Facebook (if you are following our first tip, you should already be doing this!). We mean making a video people enjoy and want to show to their friends.
What is like-able? An eye-catching video about a topic your viewers and their social networks care about. Not a boring, dragged out video on an irrelevant topic. This means you need to target and identify what your specific audience is going to want to share.
Do you want it to go viral with teenagers interested in pop culture? Make a video with their favorite singer to catch their eye. Are you trying to get your video to spread like wildfire with home decorators? Justin Beiber isn’t going to do much here – use high-value graphics of beautiful homes to get them interested.
Remember, to go viral your video needs to appeal to the people you want it to go viral with… and it needs to do it fast.
The “People Are Awesome” videos are nothing but a big compilation of other videos, but it’s simple irresistible.
Shorter is sweeter
If you want your video to go viral on the web, you need to make it internet appropriate, which means paying attention to timing and attention spans.
If your viewers have four or five other tabs open and they are checking their email in between watching, what are you going to do to grab and sustain their attention?
Within the first five seconds you need to put something awesome in your video that will make your viewers not want to click away. After that, keep up the momentum with a clear, concise message. Don’t drag your video on unnecessarily – given the same content and message, today’s internet viewers tend to favor brief videos over videos that linger on for more than a few minutes.
Cut the fluff and only include what is most important to keep in your video.
Reel your viewers in with a story
People are attracted to stories. We like to follow plot arcs – whether in comics, the news, or a documentary. We want to know who the main characters are, what’s at stake, and what the resolution is.
Videos are powerful mediums of communication because they are flexible, but no matter what, telling a story helps your viewers gain understanding and a sense of conclusion by the end of your video. Furthermore, videos and animated slides have a unique ability to tell stories because you can add music and text to help viewers understand your message.
Stories can be used in many different types of videos. Even if it’s only a short clip – a video asking viewers to help sick dogs in your hometown – framing it as a story helps make it digestible. Don’t just spit out facts and reasons why they should help – show sick Fido getting better as a result of caring donations from community members. Or, if you are an HR rep and want to encourage your company to join in on more social activities, spread a video around through email that shows people having fun on the most recent weekend trip with a call to action asking them to join, and telling them about the next event.
Clearly, videos have the power to communicate – it’s just about finding the right balance and communicating the message in an appropriate form.
This video from Google India is the perfect example of storytelling, and the proof that it works is in the more than 12 million views.
Last but not least… make it easy to be publicized
If we didn’t drill it in enough, make your video easy for viewers who like it to share with others. This is hands down the most powerful way to increase virality: and it’s easy! After you have made a concise, compelling video with a great story, share it with people who would care about what you have to say. Encourage them to share it with others (and make it easy for them), and you have started the ripples of virality!