The topic of “viral” content is one of the most intriguing in the world of social media and content marketing, but it’s also one of the most elusive.
Producing content is a valuable and necessary part of any online branding or visibility strategy, but only a tiny percentage of all produced content actually “go viral,” the digital marketing equivalent of winning the lottery.
Seemingly on a whim, these rare pieces of content capture the interest of millions of people, first getting shared by the select few who saw it first, then getting shared by the next generation of viewers and continuing to get shared until practically everyone in the country has seen it or heard about it.
Because some viral videos are arguably ludicrous and useless, while other, higher-quality videos never make it beyond an initial round of shares, it’s hard to say exactly which qualities can lead to a video going viral.
It’s impossible to predict whether a particular video will go viral. And yet, there are certain qualities that viral videos share in common, and by incorporating those in your own content generation strategy, you can maximize your chances of getting your video to go viral.
Related Article: What Really Makes Videos Go Viral?
1. Choose a Topic With a Wide Appeal
Your first goal is to choose a topic with a very broad appeal. In your company or organization, you’re probably used to producing content that speaks to a highly targeted niche audience. This is an effective strategy if you’re looking for predictable, long-term results. However, if you want to produce a video with a chance at going viral, you’ll need to look to a much wider audience.
Speaking to a more general audience increases your chances of getting shared and viewed by lots of people, and you’ll need that universal appeal if you want to get more than a few thousand views.
2. Do Something Different
The uniqueness of your video will be indispensable in maximizing your chances at going viral. If you make a video that covers a topic that’s been done to death, nobody will want to watch it.
If you cover something that’s never been seen before, or you offer a new angle on an old topic, you’ll have a better chance at attracting new viewers. This can be a difficult balance to strike; because your topic or approach is new, you might have limited data on its potential appeal. As a result, you’ll have to ground your topic in something familiar while still paving the way for something new.
3. Make it Funny
Laughter is an essential component of human nature—we love to laugh and love making others laugh even more. That’s why, when we see a funny video or image, our first instinct is usually to share it with our friends or family members.
If you make your video truly funny or amusing, you’ll increase your chances of getting shared, and the more shared your video is, the more likely it will be to spread infinitely. Humor can be tricky, so don’t be afraid to use a test audience to ensure your approach, subject matter and timing are all spot-on.
4. Make it Short and Punchy
Long videos, if they are entertaining or informative enough, will get a decent amount of views, but they’ll never go viral the way shorter videos can. The rule of thumb is to keep your video under five minutes long. Throughout the duration of your material, be as concise as possible. Keep your viewers interested with quick pacing and a tight, punchy structure, and cut out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary for the video to succeed.
The tighter and more concise your video is, the more likely people will watch it and want to share it.
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5. Make it Useful
It’s also helpful if your video is, in some way, practical to watch. How-to videos can be extremely popular (so long as they’re treading new ground), as can videos that educate viewers about something in the news or some recent event. Educational is a key “useful” attribute of viral videos, but there can be other incentives, such as entertainment value or special offers, that can make watching the video a practical experience.
6. Add Incentives to Share
Videos “go viral” when they achieve an explosive number of shares. Therefore, to maximize your chances of making your video go viral, you have to tie some value to the sharing process.
Image via Mashable
First of all, you have to make sure your video is easy to share. Host it on popular mediums and make your share buttons as visible as possible.
Then, encourage your viewers and followers directly to share your video—you can even offer a special discount or giveaway for video sharers to increase its chances of getting shared.
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7. Upload to YouTube
Once the core content of your video is finished, it’s time to upload it to YouTube—by far the most popular and useful video hosting platform.
Then, embed it in your website and start sharing it through every channel you can—that includes social media channels, social bookmarking sites, and even word-of-mouth distribution. You want your first wave of potential sharers to be as big as possible. They’re the ones who will carry your video to future rounds.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when it comes to viral marketing. Viral videos are equal parts preparation, timing and blind luck—but if you can perfect your preparation, you’ll be in the best position when your timing and your luck set you up for viral success.