Viral Content—Luck Or Production and Marketing Smarts?

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Every week (sometimes even every day), there’s a new viral video that explodes on the internet. You know the videos: the ones blowing up on your Twitter feed and getting reshared like crazy on Facebook. Whether it’s an unlikely animal friendship or a husband gifting his wife a stationary bike, you’ve often wondered what it is about these videos that make them go viral. 

Business owners and content creators want to know if there is a blueprint for a viral video. What specific framework can you follow to get millions of views? Perhaps you’re tempted to write off viral content as pure dumb luck. It’s no secret that many of the best viral videos happen organically, however, there are real-life examples of viral videos that were produced by companies to achieve viral status.

You need to understand that creating a viral video is part science and part art. With the right plan, you can create and market a viral video that takes the internet by storm. But, before you invest your time and resources into the next masterpiece, it’s important to gauge the power of viral videos to see what creating one can do for your business.

The Power of Viral Videos

Despite viral videos typically having a very short shelf life, the minutes of fame that come with successfully producing and marketing one can generate a myriad of opportunities. It’s no wonder more brands and businesses are recognizing that video is the future of content marketing. From increasing your following on social media to skyrocketing the pageviews on your blog or website, going viral comes with an onslaught of attention. In many cases, viral videos result in a flurry of media interview requests including national TV appearances.

With so many eyes on your brand, you must have a plan for how you’ll manage the spotlight and capitalize on the opportunities coming your way. For example, a single viral video could add tens of thousands of new subscribers to your email list, land you the brand partnerships of your dreams, or propel a spike in sales revenue. When you have a solid content marketing strategy waiting in the wings to support your mission, a viral video has the power to transform your business and change your life.

What Makes a Video Go Viral

We won’t lie to you: there is an element of luck that goes into viral content. If there was an exact formula for creating viral videos, everyone would be doing it. However, there are some key elements to viral videos, and prioritizing them in your content strategy will give you the best possible chance of going viral.

First, it’s helpful to understand what kind of content doesn't go viral: anything overly promotional. Even if the overall goal for your viral video is to boost your business or brand, avoid talking about product features, benefits, or even pricing. You’re not trying to make a sale. Instead, focus on raising awareness. The most successful viral videos capture your attention in the first few seconds, so leave the “As Seen on TV” infomercial vibes in the 1980s where they belong.

The best way to capture and maintain a casual viewer’s attention is with strong storytelling. People are more likely to engage with your brand when your content has a message that relates to them in some way. Whether it's Nike delivering an empowering pep talk or BlendTec mixing shock value and humor, viral videos evoke emotions.

Before you dive into even more tips for creating viral content, you should understand the primary objective of a viral video: to get people talking. When a video goes viral, it often rocks the boatat least a little. When millions of people are watching your video, you can’t expect to get glowing reviews across the board. Just remember that the point of a viral video is to raise awareness. Regardless of the negative or positive nature of the chatter, if people talk, your brand will get noticed. 

Furthermore, while many people associate a viral status with millions of views, it’s possible that for you and your organization “viral” has a different definition. Viral is a relative term, and you should set your goals based on factors such as the size of your current audience and the performance of past videos. Be careful not to lose sight of your mission to get the right people to watch and share your video.

Image Source: Unsplash

More Tips for Creating Viral Content

In addition to the key elements to viral videos, there are several more factors to keep in mind when you’re creating content. First, aim to make your videos short. You don’t want to sacrifice the story, but it should be as short as possible. Oftentimes, the length of a video will determine whether or not someone watches it. Short videos spread better because people are, understandably, more willing to take a chance on a 1-minute video than one that’s 10 minutes long.

Having a short and emotion-evoking video isn’t enough to go viral. You also need a killer headline. It takes time and practice writing a click-worthy headline, so don’t leave this important task until the last minute. If you dash something off without thinking, you’re running the risk of all the work you put into the video going to waste. When you're brainstorming headline ideas, test out list headlines containing a number, how-to headlines, and question headlines. 

With your click-worthy headline in place, you can turn your attention to promotion strategy. Even before you upload your video, you should tease it on social media to get people excited about the launch. When it goes live, enlist the help of friends to share it and use hashtags to increase its reach. If you have the budget, pay for pre-roll ads on YouTube and hire influencers to share the video with their audiences. Even if you don’t have a large marketing budget, you can reach out to bloggers and approach major media outlets that have shared videos similar to yours in the past.

By believing it’s all luck, some people will never dare to try to create a viral video. But as you now know, there is a blueprint you can follow to greatly increase your chances of going viral. Sure, luck is part of the equation but so are production and marketing smarts. With an emotion-evoking story, compelling title, and well thought out promotion strategy, you can create viral content that gets millions of views and takes your brand to the next level.

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About the Author

Jori Hamilton
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to video production, content creation, and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter: @HamiltonJori

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