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Secrets to a Killer Viral Video

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Secrets to a Killer Viral Video

Want your video to be seen by the world?

You're not the only one. "Virality" is the new marketing buzz phrase, and it seems the number one goal of every internet marketer and teen with a webcam.

Professional marketers and amateurs alike know that videos are the perfect medium for viral sharing: Research shows that we remember images and spoken words more than printed text, and visual content gets a lot more shares, clicks, and likes than just text.

If you really want to reach your audience online, video is the best way to do it. Research shows that 85% of Internet users in the United States alone watch video online, and the average visitor to your site will spend 100% more time on a page that has a video. And, after watching a product video, viewers will be 85% more likely to purchase that product.

But getting all those people to watch your video is the tricky part. Every single minute of the day, over 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, and 700 of those YouTube videos are shared on Twitter. Most of those videos just get lost in the crowd.

That's why it's so important to prime your video to go viral.

It's true that there's an element of luck to virality: there's no 100% guarantee even the perfectly shareable video will viral.

But as Lucille Ball, star of I Love Lucy (one of the first "viral videos") said, "I don't know anything about luck… Luck to me is something else: Hard work—and realizing what is opportunity and what isn't."

While luck is certainly a factor in going viral, it's not everything.

Getting your video to go viral is also about observing and emulating the traits that viral videos share, and recognizing your opportunities to take action. A video won't go viral if you don't promote it to your ideal audience, and encourage them to share it.

You can prime your video for Internet fame by following the steps below. From what content to include, to the perfect time to release your video, to exactly where and how to promote it, check out the graphic below for an all-inclusive guide to getting your video to go viral.


Secrets to a Killer Viral Video

A viral video is one that becomes popular through Internet sharing, typically through video sharing websites, social media and email. They have characteristics of being timely, relevant, and compelling. Yet sometimes when we apply these rules, the videos still don’t go viral.

There is no secret formula to making a video spread like wildfire, but there are ways you can market your video to give it what it needs to go viral, even if some of that is just a little luck.

Be Social

  • Use Social Bookmarking
    • A great way to organize information and categorize your resources.
    • Save bookmarks to a public website and tag them with applicable keywords.
    • The sites indicate who the bookmark was created by and give the user access to that person’s other bookmarked resources.
      • Users can easily make social connections with other individuals interested in any topic.
    • They are categorized by folksonomy - think of it as taxonomy for the internet.
      • The system of categorizing keywords to define resources.
  • Know which day to release your video on the Internet.
    • Facebook:
      • According to Fast Company, engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays, with 1pm-3pm being ideal.
    • Twitter:
      • According to Fast Company, for brands engagement is 17% higher on the weekends.
        • Click thru rates are highest on Wednesdays.
      • Retweets are highest around 5pm.
      • Users are 181% more likely to be on Twitter during their commute.
      • Users are 119% more likely to use Twitter during work or school hours.

Strategies for Success

  • The 6 STEPPS to Contagious Content were created by marketing professor Jonah Berger to help us understand why things go viral.
    • Use these STEPPS to help create a strategy and to better understand why videos go viral.
      • Social Currency

        • How does someone look when they share your video?
        • Is it controversial and will they catch flack for sharing it?
        • Will someone think they are funny for sharing the video?
      • Triggers

        • What visualization or symbol can you put in a video to make people immediately think of your video/brand/company?
      • Emotion

        • What kind of emotion do you have to tap in to to elicit someone’s feelings?
        • What type of feeling do you want to elicit - happiness, sadness, humor, etc?
      • Public

        • Create competitions for people sharing your video using hashtags, offer incentives, etc.
        • By using a hashtag to categorize the video, it can easily be seen who shares it so they can be awarded/recognized for doing so.
      • Practical Value

        • How is your video relevant?
          • How-to information, Top 10 lists, etc.
      • Stories

        • Good stories get passed on and on from person to person.
        • Make every video reinforce your brand’s story

    Look at what people have done in the past. Karen Cheng shared her successful viral sharing strategy, which helped get her video “Girl Learns to Dance in a Year” over 4 million views on YouTube.

    • Start out with marketing
      • Don’t skip the basics before trying to make your video go viral. Make a marketing plan and follow it so you know your plan of attack.
    • Have a good understanding of how things go viral on the internet.
      • Use social networking sites, Reddit, Hacker News, etc. to share your video.
      • Reach out to well-known bloggers and get them involved.
      • Don’t be afraid to ask people you know to help get your video shared too.
    • Let the right people know your video exists.
      • Did you feature companies in the video? Let them know, and perhaps they will do some of the sharing for you.
      • This can be a good chance to do a little cross-branding.
    • Give your video the attention it deserves.
      • Spend time making and editing your video so you can show something you are proud of.
        • These videos were planned well and quickly went viral: Google Search ‘Reunion’ and DollarShaveClub.com Our Blades are F***ing Great
    • Tell your story.
      • There are millions of short clips out there, but the ones that tell a story get shared.
        • For example, Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches were incredibly popular because they told a story people could relate to.
    • Consider the video’s length
      • According to Mashable, videos viewed between 2 and 3 minutes have a spike in social sharing, and those viewed beyond 4 minutes are 5 times more likely to be shared.
        • This means you want to have your video at least 2 minutes in length, with more than 4 minutes being ideal.
    • Make your title stand out
      • Create an engaging title so viewers cannot help but click on it.
      • Incorporate the 80/20 rule - 80% of your time should be spent crafting the title, and 20% of your time should be spent on the rest of the piece.
    • If it goes viral:
      • You have to act fast, as viral videos go out as quickly as they come in.
        • Big success on a site like Reddit could lead to mainstream media coverage, which in turn, could lead to it being all over the internet.
        • Make sure people know how to get ahold of you (email, blog, social media channels) in case the media is interested in pursuing you.
    • Consider Emotions
      • Hitting the right emotional cue is key.
        • According to Inc.com:
          • Videos showing joy and humor are most likely to get forwarded or shared.
          • Videos showing alertness and attentiveness are also likely to get forwarded or shared.
    • Social Currency
      • Consider your social currency - what you say and how you come across affects the way people think of you.
        • The motivator behind sharing is the desire to appear attractive, knowledgeable, and important to their peers.
        • By making people appear to be insiders, you can use social currency to your advantage and generate some serious buzz for your brand.
          • You can do this by telling only followers on a certain network when you plan to release a video, releasing something only on a network and nowhere else, etc.

    Top Viral Videos of 2013

    1. Dove - Real Beauty Sketches: 135,838,683 views
      • The video struck an emotional chord with women who could relate to being their own worst critics.
      • This video, like the rest on this list, did not only trigger viewers emotions, but were backed up with an intense media planning, distribution, and PR strategy.
    2. Turkish Airlines - The Selfie Shootout: 133,722,104 views
      • The video used a very well-known star/athlete to play a starring role in the commercial/video, which made viewers much more likely to share and view it.
    3. Volvo Trucks - Epic Split: Live Test 6: 102,430,941 views
      • The video used shock and fear to lead viewers to think “how’d they do that?”
    4. Google - Chrome For: 95,598,261 views
      • Google tapped into the humor emotion of viewers.
    5. Evian - Baby & Me: 75,779,488 views
      • Evian tapped into the humor emotion of their viewers, because honestly, who doesn’t love dancing babies?
    6. Intel/Toshiba - The Power Inside: 70,052,385 views
      • They created a “social film” making viewers tune in to see the next episode, and keeping people wanting more.
    7. 5-Hour Energy - 5-Hour Energy Helps Amazing People: 67,860,563 views
      • The company created a series of videos to evoke people’s “feel good” emotions.
    8. Jay-Z - Magna Carta Holy Grail: 57,344,188
      • Jay-Z partnered with Samsung to create an app, compatible only with Android devices, that allowed users to download his
      • The behind the scenes video sparked interest in fans and viewers wanting to know more.
    9. YouTube - What Does 2013 Say?: 56,230,354
      • Montage videos tend to do very well, and since it was made by YouTube, you know it was given the best spotlight sessions and highlights.
    10. Miami Heat - Harlem Shake Miami Heat Edition: 55,087,246
      • The Harlem Shake was wildly popular, and given the team won the NBA championship in both 2012 and 2013, they were already in the spotlight, so their loyal fans shared the video in excess.


    KeriLynn Engel

    About KeriLynn Engel

    KeriLynn has worked as a freelance writer for various websites. She is an advocate for domestic abuse victims and has way too many hobbies.


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