In video marketing, viral videos are the dream.
They are the ultimate success story, the case study you might put on your website and brag about to your friends or competition. They can achieve amazing results in terms of brand awareness and get you tons of impressions.
Unfortunately, they are also the hardest to make.
Compared to viral videos, your regular promo videos are pretty simple – you just need a clear concept, a solid script, and some good editing, made easy with tools like TypeStudio, which let you edit your video by editing text.
With viral videos, not everything is in your hands. There are almost no rules when it comes to creating viral videos. The Internet is a weird place – remember this OG Internet video? Now try to explain why it has over 42 million views. It tickles a certain funny spot that’s specific to Internet humor and almost untranslatable to any other medium.
However, upon closely analyzing tons of brand-sponsored viral videos, you can see some patterns and come up with general rules that will increase your chances of going viral.
In this article, we will explain viral videos and go through those rules.
What are viral videos?
As their name suggests, viral videos are those videos that are quickly and organically spread between Internet users to the point that they become extremely popular.
They usually have millions of views and tend to reach a wide audience of all demographics. This last part is especially important – by definition, viral videos are interesting to the general population, regardless of their interests.
That’s how we can explain that this video of a cat knocking down a glass has five times more views than this video of Cristiano Ronaldo scoring one of the best goals in Champions League history. Even though the latter is better produced, more important, and more impressive, the former is just textbook Internet humor that’s appealing to everyone.
So, when thinking about how to make a video viral, don’t think about production value or impressing anyone. Ask yourself what the people of the Internet will find funny/inspiring/interesting and make it relatable more than anything.
How does a video go viral?
The way that the Internet is set up is perfect for spreading interesting content. When something strikes people as worthy of sharing, they have plenty of ways to do so.
Social media is usually the biggest amplifier for viral videos. Whether people share them through personal messages or publicly on their profile, videos often get to a large audience through Instagram and Facebook.
It also happens on platforms like Reddit and 9GAG, where people share content and upvote interesting things. Getting to the front page of either of these platforms is almost a guarantee that you’ve created something perfect for the Internet culture. In fact, many popular memes originated on these two websites, especially Reddit.
We’ll go into these two later in the article. Now, let’s start with some useful tips on how to make a video go viral.
Tip #1: Strike a chord or provide value
When you take a closer look at some of the famous viral videos, you’ll find that they have one of these things in common:
1. They’re funny/inspiring/sad/curious or
2. They provide value.
In most cases, true organic viral videos will fall into the first category. They’ll be quirky, interesting videos that may not even make much sense but they strike a certain chord with the audience.
If you want them to be funny, it’s also a good idea to make them relatable. For example, take a look at this video from the YouTube creator Gus Johnson.
The execution is definitely funny, but what gives this video viral potential is the fact that it’s describing a familiar moment we can all relate to. If you look at the comment section, you’ll see a lot of people describing similar situations that happened to them.
You don’t have to go the funny route. Inspiring, cute human stories also have a lot of viral potential. The Dodo, for example, is a community dedicated to animals. So they post cute and funny animal videos all the time, along with inspiring animal rescue videos that always get lots of views.
Check this one out:
As you can see, the video is positive and emotional. So, it’s a good idea to try to trigger an emotional reaction, be it laughter, sadness, or motivation. Think about people’s motives to share your video. They can share it to make other people laugh, to increase awareness about an issue, to inspire others, etc.
Conversely, you can disregard emotion and focus on providing value.
We’ve all heard about Tasty – their YouTube community has over 20 million subscribers and their videos get tens of millions of views. They revolutionized the video content industry with their top-view cooking tutorials with no voiceovers. They’re short, simple, and incredibly useful!
So, if you want to provide value, make sure your videos truly help people solve problems, learn skills, or improve in any other way. It’s also a good idea to make the videos bite-sized for easier consumption.
Tip #2: Keep it short
Apart from TV shows, tutorials, and courses, there aren’t really too many long videos on the Internet.
Most videos you see – especially the funny ones – are short and sweet. They’re only long enough to elicit a reaction and tell a short story. But don’t think of this as a limitation: think of it as a creative challenge.
The app was a huge and unexpected success that peaked around 2015. Initially, the creators intended the app to be perfect for sharing small daily moments from one’s life, interesting 7-second snippets that would provide you an insight into their daily routines. However, when the app took off, no one expected to see it used so creatively, not even the creators themselves.
What happened is that users took the 7-second limitation as a creative opportunity and created bite-sized sketches and goofs. There was something about videos being cut off so quickly that provided a unique format to make people laugh. The fact that videos looped was also a great feature, as people seem to love watching them over and over.
Here’s proof that you don’t need more than 6 seconds to make people laugh and get millions of views:
Now, you don’t have to give yourself such extreme limitations. However, one large-scale MIT study recommends that you keep your videos at least under six minutes, according to their analysis of over 6.9 million video sessions.
Tip #3: Plan a good promotion strategy
Regardless of your content, you need to have a good promotion strategy in place for when your video is ready to get in front of the public.
Here are some things you should consider.
- When do you post? You want to post your videos when most people are online to increase the chances of it going viral and getting a lot of views. This means different things for different platforms. Posting on weekday afternoons might be best for YouTube and here’s a guide for other social media.
- Where do you post? Social media and YouTube are definitely good places to start. In addition, you should also consider sharing your video on relevant communities on Reddit and 9GAG. Those are the perfect vehicles to get affirmation from the Internet culture and see if your video has the viral potential you believe it has.
- Should you boost? It can be a good idea to spend some money on advertising to kick things off. While true viral videos don’t need this push and will get their views organically, brand-sponsored viral videos might need some paid impressions to get in front of a larger audience.
Alternatively, if you want more credibility and less paid views, you should look into influencer marketing. By collaborating with famous publications, influencers, and meme pages, you can reach your target audience more organically than if you share the video only on your channels.
Tip #4: Work with content creators
If you want to work with influencers, you can go a step further and include them in the creation process.
Finding a good influencer with a strong following in your niche can be a great move. Explain to them what your product is about and brainstorm some ideas on how best to include it in their content organically. These people are creatives with probably years of experience in video creation so they might come up with some awesome viral video ideas!
Having famous creators produce content for you is a much subtler marketing strategy than simply creating a video and posting it on your channels. It also has much more viral potential.
That’s what Playtech did with Viva La Dirt League, a YouTube channel that creates sketches about video games. They have a whole series of videos called “Bored” that illustrates how it is to work in retail – more specifically, in a Playtech store.
Now, we don’t know what kind of agreement Playtech struck with Viva La Dirt League (or if there IS an agreement there at all) but, knowing how this game works, we can assume that Playtech’s profile has increased since they’ve been featured on this channel that has almost 3 million subscribers.
Another example of this is how Andertons UK teamed up with Rabaea Massad and Matt Hornby to create the now-famous video series “Sound like… without busting the bank”. They’re both professionals who know how to produce content (especially Rabaea) and talk about music. Andertons is rarely mentioned in the videos – they’re all about sounding like your favorite guitarists without spending thousands of dollars on equipment!
Tip #5: You don’t have to over-produce
The great thing about viral videos is that they don’t have to be professionally produced. In fact, it’s often quite the contrary – people are sometimes drawn to amateur videos with low resolution and low production value.
And, sure, some of these cases we mentioned above – Tasty, Andertons, Viva La Dirt League – are far from amateur productions but they surely didn’t spend tens of thousands of dollars on their videos.
The point here is that higher production value doesn’t equal more views when it comes to viral videos. All you sometimes need is a camera and a good idea!
You can also use tools like Bonjoro to create fun videos on your own. You don’t need editing skills or professional equipment, and making videos is fun!
Tip #6: Don’t make it too promotional
Finally, we have one tip on what NOT to do.
One of the worst mistakes you can make is making the video about your brand. That’s a great way to make sure your video doesn’t go viral and ends up looking like a typical promo video. It’s even worse if you try to look cool and appeal to younger audiences but all you do is create a cringy sponsored video.
Near the end of 2020, a TikTok of a skateboarder went viral. He filmed himself listening to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”, drinking a big bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice, and skating to work because his car broke down. The product is featured very little in the video – the creator doesn’t talk about it, he doesn’t mention its benefits or any product features.
He’s just enjoying his time sipping the juice and skating down the street with some tunes!
In a smart marketing move, Ocean Spray bought the guy a new car (cranberry-colored!) to replace the broken one.
Now, this video might not have been created by a brand (if so, it was a genius move) but it’s a great example of how branded viral videos don’t have to be promotional. To make a viral video, you need to focus on eliciting emotions or capturing a specific feeling rather than promoting your brand.
Conclusion: how to make a video go viral?
Making a viral video is one of the most difficult tasks in marketing.
Going viral depends on so many factors and it almost always relies on you tapping into that specific Internet culture that you either understand or you don’t.
We hope that these tips and examples inspired you and helped you get a better idea of how to create a viral video.
Once you have your idea, you’ll need a tool that will make everything possible. We would love to help you bring that idea to life with Bonjoro. Register for a free trial and create fun videos with ease!