Okay, if you thought this was going to be a quick post on how to make a viral video (and make millions because of it), then we’re sorry for what will surely be a letdown. The truth is, there is no way to be sure what will become viral and what won’t. There is no magic pill or 12 steps to success.
Sometimes people work very hard to make something “viral” and no one ever watches it. Other times videos become wildly successful without much thought or effort. But, there are a few things you can do to try and help set you up for viral success. No promises, but give these tips a shot.
How to Make a Video Go Viral
1. Keep it Short
Think about the number of videos you are hit with every day. Facebook is filled with them. So is Twitter, and one look at your YouTube home page might just cause you to shut down your computer.
No wonder video drop off rates are so high in the first minute. To hold someone’s attention for much longer, you’d better have something magical on the screen. Maybe a unicorn slam-dunking two basketballs while singing Whitney Houston covers. Just an idea.
But, unless you have that video (and I want to see that video) be aware that viewers will not stick around for long. Keep your video as brief as possible, so they get to the end and are more likely to share.
2. Start Strong
Just like with the above tip, viewers are fickle and they will be gone faster than Smash Mouth’s music career if you don’t win them over right away. But you will, because “Hey now, you’re an all-star.”
Where were we? Right, start strong. Your viewer should almost immediately know what they are watching, and why they need to keep watching. Whatever your hook is, get it out there quickly.
3. Spark an Emotion
Okay, this is one of those “magic button” sort of tips. Or better yet, it’s a “there is no magic button” sort of tips. Sparking an emotion may be harder than you think, but it’s still something you have to strive for.
If your video is just mundane, it will not win anyone over. The range of emotions you can shoot for is wide. Making someone laugh is always good. People love to share videos that are funny.
Making someone feel inspired or touched is also great. Uplifting videos tend to get shared more. But you can also make something viral by scaring people, creating suspense, or astonishing them. Just aim for the emotion you want to elicit, and push hard to make it so.
And remember, just because you think it’s funny, doesn’t mean it’s funny. Whatever emotion you are trying to elicit, test it out on non-bias viewers. Make sure you are creating something that will engage a wide audience, not just cater to your own sense of what is good.
4. Timing is Key
What happens when a new season of Game of Thrones starts? A million Game of Thrones related videos come out. This is how the world works. There are so many new stories, technologies, movies, etc. coming out that we can’t hold our attention to older things as well.
When everyone is talking about Pokemon Go, everyone wants to watch Pokémon Go related videos, and share them too. They don’t want to watch and share videos about Angry Birds.
We aren’t saying you have to only make videos related to current topics. When Dollar Shave Club dropped its now infamous launch video, it wasn’t related to a current event. It was just funny as hell.
However, as a general rule, timely videos with topics that are current and being talked about are more likely to get shared.
And now… a Pokémon Go related video for your viewing pleasure.
5. Go Beyond the Video
A great video, is a great video, is a great video. Sorry, got stuck on loop there.
But sometimes, it takes a bit of a spark to get the fire rolling. Once you’ve created your “soon to be viral” masterpiece, get involved in the sharing process yourself.
Of course, you should share it on your social media channels, but also engage your viewers. Read and reply to comments, unless they are just trolling comments about the size of your mother’s posterior. Under no circumstances should you reply to those comments.
Find places where your video is being shared and get involved in those communities and sites where you can. If people want to interview you or talk to you about your video, try to oblige. Any way that you can get your video noticed could lead to exponential viewer growth. You never know which person will share your video that might then get seen by the person at Upworthy that might then highlight your video to millions of new eyes.
6. Be Prolific
Look, creating a viral video is like buying a lottery ticket. In fact, check out this great talk by Darius Kazemi on just how much it is like winning the lottery.
Kazemi’s argument is that there is no way to know what will go viral, but all you can do is create things you like, and create a lot of them. The more videos you produce, the more likely you will be to find a winner.
Let’s not forget that many people buy lottery tickets all of their lives and never win. Sorry, for the Debbie Downer moment here. But it’s true.
Don’t assume you will create a truly viral video. Certainly, don’t bank on it. But instead, create as much good and compelling work as you can, and then let the world decide if they want to share it.
By now you may be thinking you shouldn’t even bother trying to make a viral video. What’s the point really? But lift your head up young Jedi video master. It can happen to you. It happens to people every day. Just get out there and make great stuff. Use these tips, and at least you’ll have an edge over other content producers.
We know you can do it and make an epic viral video, because, “Hey now, you’re an all-star, get your game on, go play!”