The best way to begin wrapping your mind around what it really takes to produce a viral video is this: About 300 hours worth of video get upload to YouTube every single minute, and this number increases at a 50% each single year. Now, from this mind-boggling amount of footage, only a tiny, tiny percentage gets more than 1,000,000 views… Making a video go viral surely sounds a lot more difficult now that you get an idea of the odds no?
Luckily there is a certain criteria that most (if not a ll viral videos) share, and today we’ll go through the main 3 factors that will most likely produce a piece of content that becomes viral. I know simplifying the whole process to 3 steps sounds slightly like a long shot, but even the most complex of interactions can be broken down to its basics. Let take a good look at the following ‘rules’ for creating a viral video.
Community, influencers and tastemakers:
Never forget the internet is a community of people that love to share, some of those participants, whether for reasons of hierarchy, ability, seniority or reputation, will have a huge effect on how the rest of the community picks a video (or piece of content for that matter) to make it go viral. These special, influential and ultimately powerful Internet figures are the fastest way to reach the top. One of the best examples I can provide you with is the example below: The double rainbow video went viral right after Jimmy Kimmel tweeted about it
As you can see, the video in itself wasn’t meant to go viral, it was just an user sharing a moment, but his honest, over the top almost epiphany-like reaction is what made it extremely funny, the fact that it was Jimmy Kimmel (a man with a huge virtual presence and millions of followers) was what made it go viral.
If you are wondering how you can derive value from this as a business, don’t forget your potential customers and target markets are made up of individuals, people that also follow personalities online… Well, who are they? Who are those people with a large influence online that live and work around you? Now that you have identified that it’s time to start thinking about how you can start tailoring your videos (or content for that matter) towards them.
The best practical example I can think of is the famous ‘Never go to Thailand’ video, in a single stroke of genius, these guys managed to create the perfect travel campaign video. It wasn’t too long after the well shot (and sarcastically named video) became popular online, within weeks the creators had already been offered a job with the Tourist Authority of Thailand, who of-course found their content creating ideas a wonderful new asset. Just like that, good footage, a clever name and the sudden interest of one of Thailand’s most influential institutions and the video became viral, collecting millions of views worldwide.
You do remember this video, don’t you?
Again, never forget we are living in a virtual, interconnected world. We are not longer plain observant, but we are realizing our power to participate, engage and change the reality around us, making a video go viral also depends on this factor.
Possibly the best way to make my point would be to provide a good example. Now, I do have to say this is (personally) not something I like nor find too amusing, but I must accept it was the phenomenon it was because of the huge level of participation and customization it allowed. I am of-course talking about the infamous ‘Harlem Shake’:
Which of course inspired a ridiculous amount of community participation, world wide, 24-7…
At the retirement home:
At Bangkok University where I studied:
Ok, enough with that song right? The point is, as a business, you can also take full advantage of this by producing content, which is aimed at being adapted by your users. Keep in mind this also applies for all sorts of content, I just saw last week one of my photographer friends take part in a social challenge organized by Canon: You’d have to submit pictures according to certain parameters (black and white only, portraits, food, fashion, etc ) the best of these pictures would get chosen as features in Canon advertisement campaigns worldwide . Not only you are increasing your brand strength and likeability by offering the opportunity of any photographer to receive a mention from Canon themselves, you are also ensuring people participate, and ultimately, spread your business content and brand further down social networks.
Quite possibly the best example I can think of is the ‘ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’. The video was so viral and popular about half the people involved in it forgot what it was actually about, regardless, ALS’s genius social challenge helped them raise huge amounts of cash [http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2014/08/29/the-als-ice-bucket-challenge-has-raised-100m-but-its-finally-cooling-off/ ] and receive a massive exposure world wide. How can you get your audience participating while helping you spread your content and brand into viral proportions? Now, that is the question my friend!
Here’s the original Ice Bucket Challenge in case you need a reminder:
I will warn you not to watch the next video if you don’t have a lot of time to waste, but I do always take the chance to point out how sometimes, not matter how simple something seems, as humans we seem to have some innate responsibility to fail. Enjoy:
Youtube (and the internet) are both huge and developing universes. There are certain rules to be able to climb (even if for just a limited amount of time) to the heights reserved for viral content. No one is saying that it’s an easy feat, but the fact is, anyone can achieve it, just think about the fact some people get there without even meaning to do so! As a business though, just keep the 3 simple rules of viral content in mind:
Find the influencers that will allow your content to raise above the norm and try your best to make your content appealing to those influencers/tastemakers
Try to always build content that your community can play around with. Participation is a huge factor when making content go viral.
Sometimes, you just need to get lucky! Or be smart enough to be able to film or create a piece of content that is extremely unexpected. Don’t forget the internet, like us, loves surprises!
In case you need anymore reasons why you should start attempting to go viral on YouTube, consider these figures:
- YouTube has more than 1 billion users
- Everyday people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views
- Half of YouTube views are on mobile devices
- Mobile revenue on YouTube is up over 100% y/y
- More than a million advertisers are using Google ad platforms, the majority of which are small businesses
- More than a million channels in dozens of countries are earning revenue from the YouTube Partner
- Program, and thousands of channels are making six figures per year
In case you are a business interested In the value YouTube can provide you with, you should check out this list of YouTube’s resources and stats more in detail.