Strategies Behind Viral Videos

When it comes to Social Media Marketing, many associate the term “viral” with a large number of views. The term viral actually refers to the number of times a piece of content is shared, which usually results in a higher number of views. While there is no exact formula to producing a viral video, below are a few things that hold true when creating video that you would like to “go viral”.

Viral videos have a vast audience, but initially you must appeal to those already following your brand; these followers will be given first access to your video, which will help for an initial surge of shares. The basic principle here is that your video needs to be about something people (especially your followers) want to align themselves with to motivate sharing.

The content of viral videos usually appeals to an emotion. Most often that emotion is humor-- after all, who doesn’t want to share a laugh with friends? The content of the video should not blatantly promote your brand, but reference it appropriately. A study done by Harvard Business Review research showed that videos heavily laden with brand images increase the likelihood that the viewer will stop watching. When the brand image was integrated into the video and placed within the storyline, viewership increased 20%.

A good example is The Guardian’s “Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf” video. The Guardian, a news source in the UK, created a video based on how they would report the story of the three little pigs. The three little pigs video appealed to an emotion (nostalgia) and the brand imagery was weaved into the video in such a way that the viewer was not bombarded. 

Data driven research. Although there is no exact science to viral videos, there is some essential data that must be considered. Most videos that go viral do so in a relatively short period of time. Data showing what days and times of day the highest usage of social media occurs may be of help in deciding on timing for posting a video. For example, a study published in 2010 showed that Facebook usage is at its highest at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm.

Once the video is posted, look into where, when, and how your video is being shared and encourage and cultivate this activity. YouTube analytics allow you to track your video’s views, shares, demographics, and discover where when and how your video is being shared. Don’t wait to be discovered. Posting your video to YouTube and waiting for the views to start pouring in does not work. Distribution of your video is a key step towards going viral, so take it straight to your audience. When a video is posted to YouTube it should also be posted to all of your company’s social platforms. To facilitate easy sharing, all videos should have built in social sharing tools along-side the video. The easier it is for viewers to share, the more likely they are to do so.

Viral videos are much like other online content. It must be well researched and thought out, appeal to your target audience, and be monitored. If you do all these things, your video will be well on its way to going viral.

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