What goes into making a video go viral, earning millions of views?
In today’s digital era, it’s important to have a multitude of creatives, whether it’s for marketing purposes or personal use. Videos are one such popular medium.
Since YouTube’s inception, the days of becoming famous when only featured on television or cinema are far gone. With social media and other online platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram, it has become the case that anyone off the street has the ability to become viral overnight.
Sometimes it happens by luck, but it’s possible for anyone, given the right tools and determination.
According to the article, “This Happened to Me” by Karen X Cheng, as much as she would have liked her viral dance video (with 3 million views) to have been just a coincidence of shares, she attributed her success to a “ton of marketing, and it started long before the video was released.”
Below is an excerpt from the article that talking about her top tips for getting one’s video viral:
1. Don’t be “too good” for marketing
I almost didn’t put together a marketing plan. Because what if I did all this marketing, and then the video still flopped? That would’ve been embarrassing. Then I realized how stupid that was.
It’s better to try your damnedest and fail than to hold back and always wonder what if.
If you put all this effort into your video, why would you rely on luck for the last leg? Swallow your pride. Give your work a fighting chance. Put together a marketing plan.
2. Release on Monday or Tuesday
People watch YouTube videos when they’re at work. They read the news at work. Release your video on Monday or Tuesday to give it the whole week to gain momentum. Weekends are speed bumps.
I chose Tuesday because people are busy catching up with email on Monday. I got lucky with the timing because there wasn’t any major breaking news that day. Releasing on a slow news day will help you.
Mind your holidays, too. Don’t release when people are not at the office.
3. Figure out who has a stake in your video
If your video takes off, who are all the people and companies who might want a piece of the action? These people can help market you. My YouTube description was full of links to possible sponsors — to the Lululemon and American Apparel clothes I was wearing. To the Lift app I used to track my dancing. To the BART train station I danced at. To the music I danced to. They’re all things I genuinely believe in, so I was happy to send traffic their way. I contacted all these companies and asked them to share the video. Some of them shared, some of them didn’t. Try them all.
Take Buzzfeed for example, their videos are specifically designed for social media sharing, which are short, sweet, informative, and tend to go viral consistently.
According to another blog How to make a video go viral: the magic formula, here are further tips on how to get your video viral organically:
Keep it short and sweet
Our attention is increasingly in demand. Advertisers, entertainment networks, family, work, and cute animal videos are constantly fighting for their share of it. Like the social media platforms they’re shared on, viral videos are interruptive. You don’t go to YouTube or Google and search for them. They appear in your feed and need to fight to break through the noise and earn your attention. That’s why short videos work so well.
Focus on a single message
Simple, clear, and succinct content works wonders. This is true when it comes to creating a high conversion landing page or a shareable blog post. It’s also true when it comes to creating a viral video. Define what your video is about and focus on getting that point across as clearly as possible.
Use the right format
Maximize the chance of creating a viral video by optimizing it for social sharing. Make sure your video is the right format for the platform it’s on, by considering how people are watching your videos. About 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound, and at the tail end of 2016 they had 1.09 billion daily mobile users, a number that’s been steadily rising every quarter. So, create mobile-optimized videos that capture the user’s attention within the first few frames.
Create a catchy, branded thumbnail
When your followers share your video on social media, the first thing their followers will see is your thumbnail. This is especially true for social media platforms that don’t use auto play. Create a thumbnail that captures the essence of the video and demands a click. If you can, avoid using text because it can look blurry on certain screens and in specific formats.
A powerful headline and supporting copy
You don’t have to use clickbait titles if that’s not a part of your branding, but you still need a powerful headline that walks the line between clarity and curiosity. The title needs to set expectations for the video. Some people rely on curiosity while others tap into how the video would make them feel. The key is to figure out what works for your audience and get a strong emotional reaction.
Keep paying attention after you hit publish
The video creator behind Tasty, Alvin Zhou, carefully studies and interprets all the sharing data for every single video and uses it to create better, targeted and even more shareable content.
The process doesn’t end once you hit ‘Publish.’ The secret to a viral video is knowing your audience and exceeding their expectations. Studying the stats and sharing analytics is key to creating more powerful videos in the future.
V. Knight | Contributing Writer