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How to make a video viral?

How to make a video viral is a short introduction to the world of viral marketing, and offers some insights from successful viral creators on how to achieve that elusive viral status. Making your video go viral is the holy grail for many online marketers and YouTube star wannabes, but it’s no easy feat and there’s no exact formula for the process. However, with the benefit of hindsight or experience, these viral producers can help you lay the groundwork for producing your own amazing content and hopefully, how to make a video viral. 


Viral Content

When aiming for a viral video, especially a branded viral video you must carefully balance the content of the video, achieving the right concentration of entertainment versus brand. Brendan Gahan, Director of Social Media for Mekanism and producer of viral hit Hovercat likens the process to administering medicine to a child by combining it with “candy”. The candy in this case, is entertainment value, that allows viewers to tolerate and even absorb the brand intrusion.

While Hovercat positions the entertainment squarely upfront, that doesn’t have to be the only option. Michael Dubin, writer and star of the massively popular Dollar Shave Club viral stresses the importance of empathising with the viewer, “Identify a resonant shared human experience and then build your concept around that. In just about every beat of the video … we’re talking about the business and the benefit of the business.” While the video may have focused more on the business it was as a foil for venting the issues that consumers hate, which leads on to our third point.

When creating something that resonates with an audience, one of the side effects is that of an emotional trigger. If you can move your viewer to feel something, they are more likely to share your video and the emotional triggers that have been found to be most powerful include laughter, awe or anger.
how to make a video viral - dollar shave club


When brands set out to create their viral masterpiece, it also seems so counter-productive to relegate the brand to the sidelines, however time and time again it’s been proven that avoiding the hard-sell and overly branded production is paramount for retaining and engaging viewers, Damian Kulash, lead singer from viral maestros Ok Go, discusses his many experiences working with brands on viral co-productions, resulting in the understanding that “having the wisdom to let your brand lay back and be part of the story rather than the surface of the content is so much more valuable to the brand, and also allows you to do what everybody wants to do — which is to have genuine content that people want to be engaged with, rather than crassly sticking your product into something.”

how to make a video viral - ok go

Viral Strategy

Dean McBeth, Old Spice Community Manager  and part of the team that produced the notorious Old Spice campaigns discusses the importance of going to the viewer, not forcing them to come to you, “We’ve learned that the most engagement comes when you engage consumer on their preferred channel. We tapped into the communities that consumers are already using” The multi-platform campaign was celebrated for its use of YouTube as a primary vehicle, but also engaging fans on Twitter and Facebook too. To make the most of your viral strategy, don’t just stick to YouTube!

Ben Relles, founder of Barely Political and creator of the viral hit Obama Girl stresses the importance of consistency during the viral process. Being consistent can either be the first step in creating a viral video, or continuing the success that comes with a video video, “build that [viral video] in to a series of consistent videos, people have very loyal audiences”. This is more of a long-term approach, but let’s be honest, it’s also a more realistic approach to achieving viral status. Creating a body of work with loyal fans is more likely to result in a breakaway hit down the line.

how to make a video viral - old spice

How to make a video viral?

This is just a brief introduction on how to make a video viral, but we will be back to update this post with more insights from successful viral creators to help you craft your viral video productions. For more information of viral videos take a look at some of our other articles including How to go viral using Social Video. We’d love to hear some of your own tips and advice, from experience if possible! Please leave them in the comments section below and help us expand our understanding.

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