Common Qualities of Insanely Successful Viral Videos

    by Amanda Sibley

    Date

    July 5, 2012 at 2:00 PM

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    We all love watching videos online. From an animal doing something adorable to a how-to segment on cooking a meal, people are constantly watching and sharing them with friends. In fact, over 4 billion videos are viewed daily on YouTube, and over 60 hours of video are watched per minute. Chances are, your potential customers are among those 4 billion watching videos today.

    Which is why your boss asks you to make a video. Oh, and can you make it go viral, too? First of all, what a frustrating question; virality can never, ever be guaranteed. But there are some common qualities to many of the viral videos out there that we've started to notice. And those qualities can be replicated to increase the chance that your video might join the ranks of the other viral successes out there. Read through the tips in this blog post to learn how to create a high quality video, as told through the stories of other online video successes out there -- and who knows, it may just result in your own viral video!

    Keep it Short

    According to the New York Times, 44% of people lost interest in a video after 60 seconds. So it looks like shorter videos are more likely to keep people's attention, which means increased social sharing for your video. For an example of a short but effective video, take a look at this video of an owner teasing a dog about food, which received 25 million views in the first five days, and currently has over 110 million views to date.

    The video is under 90 seconds long, and has the entertainment factor of a talking dog. Come on, who doesn't love dogs? It's also perfect to share with friends, because the point of the video is obvious in the first few seconds, so it doesn't require explanation or context. Keep your videos similarly short and to-the-point, and you'll see those video views creep up.

    Demonstrate a Strong, Consistent Brand Persona

    Your goal is to get people to immediately think of you when they see the person or object portrayed in the video, so your video needs to clearly demonstrate your brand to viewers. To do this, first create a clear picture of what you people think about your brand -- and what you want them to think. If you sell men's clothing, but people are actually buying your apparel because of the lifestyle it promotes, creating a video about high quality clothing will not do as well as a video about the awesome lifestyle that men who wear your brand have.

    Take a look at the Old Spice "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign, for example. With Isaiah Mustafa, it made a very strong connection between Old Spice products and the manly persona men want to be like, and that women want in a man. And they did it in all of their videos. He always remained in character, and was such a strong parallel to the brand that it actually become humorous -- never a bad thing for video virality! It resulted in over 290 million channel views to date, and over 35 million views within the first 7 days of launch.

    The Old Spice campaign was entertaining, but still portrayed the characteristics men want to be, and women want in men -- what Old Spice wanted to be associated with. Create a persona that can be easily identified with your brand, then find a way to embody like Old Spice did -- through mascots, tag lines, copy, everything!

    Is That Real?

    Creating a video that makes people ask, "Is that real?" is a great way to increase a video's social shares -- if people see something unbelievable, you can be they'll be sharing it to get others' two cents. The eHarmony "cat lady" is a perfect example of this, plus it brought brand awareness to eHarmony in a humorous way. This video, created by a comedian, was so outrageous and unbelievable that people wanted to show it to their friends; it received over 2 million views the first day, and now has more than 22 million views.

    Why did this gem go viral? The video was so crazy people had to share it with their friends and debate the validity behind it. The lesson here is that crazy content -- that can still relate to your brand, of course -- is a one way ticket to online video success. So think to yourself: Is there anything in my industry I could parody that millions can relate to?

    Hilarious Content

    We've mentioned it a couple times already, but if you make people laugh with your video, it's far more likely it will get shared socially. Just remember to create content that's not only funny to you, but entertaining for your customers as well. The talking babies video, for example, went viral in 2011 with 20 million views in the first ten days, and over 70 million views to date. The video depicts two babies talking in a language of their own, quite the unusual sight, indeed! This video was appealing to an extremely wide audience, thus making it easy to share with friends and rack up those high view counts.

    Another thing to keep in mind when creating funny videos is that you don't actually have to directly promote anything -- though you could if you're able to make people laugh despite the blatant promotion, like Old Spice did. This video could have been used for a variety of baby products to increase brand awareness; just focus on finding material that's universally entertaining and unique.

    Newsjack With Parody

    Making a parody of a popular event, person, or song to reflect your company or product will create an interesting video people may be more likely to share with friends -- because it's based off of something millions already recognize and love. The video "Barack Obama Singing Call Me Maybe" parody, for instance, has over 17 million views in under four weeks, making it one of the most viral videos in 2012.

    Not only does this video play on the nation’s president -- bold move -- but it also uses the most viral song to date, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call me Maybe” which is #1 on YouTube with over 100 million views. Hey, sometimes using pop-culture can help your video go viral, and there's no shame in utilizing it!

    Leverage User-Generated Content

    Letting your customers or fans get in on the content creation is a great way to generate a successful video. Not only will you save time, but you'll engage customers and encourage sharing -- a great boost for your reach and reputation. Content contests are an easy way to get the content you need, and allow users to engage with the brand while using word-of-mouth to spread the message to others within their social networks. If it's feasible for your product or service, a contest can increase your reach to people you originally would not have been able to reach with your own marketing. If you can, have other fans vote on the winning video, further increasing the reach of your campaign!

    Aflac did this in 2012, when they created the “10 Second Challenge” in which users were asked to create a short video explaining what Aflac meant to them. The prize was internet fame and $25,000. Over 180 video submissions were entered, which resulted in 250,000 video views on Facebook and thousands more to date on YouTube. 

    Letting your users create content for you can save you time, and because of their pride in their work, the result may be more creative than you could have ever imagined!

    What other qualities of viral videos did we miss here? Have you ever created an extremely successful online video?

    Image credit: googlisti

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