In the world of creating video content, perhaps there is nothing more rewarding than a viral video. You know, one of those videos that everyone passes around, talks about, and could quote in their sleep.
But having a video go viral is just luck, right? Wrong. While there are no guarantees of success, there are certain specific action steps that you can take to get your video content headed in the right direction.
Step #1: Go Hi-Def
If a video is good, a video is good, but it has little chance of going viral if it is of low quality when it comes to filming. Lucky for you, HD doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg anymore.
Many decent cameras shoot video in HD, as do some smartphones, or you could pony up a couple hundred dollars for a handheld HD video camera. Considering the amount of money that the larger corporations spend in an attempt to create viral content, a few hundred bucks doesn’t sound so bad.
Before you even think about creating your video, make sure that you have equipment that can record high definition video and high quality sound, because this will mean one less thing to worry about during the production process.
Step #2: Do Your Homework
When I think about viral videos, one big name comes to mind almost instantly: GoDaddy. Think about GoDaddy’s videos through the years – Danica Patrick strutting her stuff, the supermodel kissing the nerd, etc.
I guarantee you that those did not appeal to your grandparents, nor were they designed to do so. With viral videos, you have to be willing to say, yes, this will entertain or be of use to my target customer, and to heck with the rest of the people out there. You need to pull in your target audience and pull them hard.
This is where I firmly believe that some good old fashioned sleuthing can give you an edge. Dig for details in terms of what makes your target laugh, what they need, what they want, and what types of videos have been popular with this group in the past.
Step #3: Go For the Wow Factor
What do so many viral videos have in common? The ability to grab your attention from the get-go and use it once they have it. Be shocking, be strange, be hilariously funny – whatever you do, do it big, and then enjoy your captive audience. You also need to know that viral videos that work are the ones that don’t feature your product front and center.
Think back to those Danica Patrick GoDaddy videos once again. Do they say anything about hosting plans? Do they tell you how many companies and individuals use the services of GoDaddy.com?
Nope. Not one word. But they do cleverly tell you that you can see an extended, unrated version of the commercial (with implied nudity) at godaddy.com. And what happens when you visit godaddy.com? You have to hunt for the video, but details on hosting plans are front and center. See how they did that?
Step #4: Do It Differently
If eye candy and sex are not your cup of tea, create a video that is completely different from the crowd in some other way. Advertising videos for insurance companies are a dime a dozen, full of things like a list of services, rates, and benefits. Now, stick a talking gecko in there, and you have something people will watch, right? (Well, at least it worked for a while.)
Think about your product from a unique angle, something that hasn’t been done yet. The weird videos are the ones that get your attention, right? This is true for your customers as well. If it stands out as being strange, people will start to buzz about it.
Step #5: Make It Useful
Another method for creating a viral video is creating something that your customers can really use and put it into a short, consumable package.
Don’t believe me? A quick look at YouTube shows you that a video called “9 Different Eyeliner Looks” that is just under eight minutes long has been viewed over six million times since it was created nine months ago.
Let that soak in for a minute: someone is getting millions of views by people looking for the proper way to apply eyeliner.
If you are selling a product or a service that warrants a visual instruction manual, take full advantage of YouTube to create one, and watch the views pour in. People crave reliable, useful content, and you may be just the person to create it for them.
Step #6: Thumbnails Count
When you scroll through YouTube looking for videos, you will notice that each video has a cover thumbnail attached to its title. Many video creators think nothing of the thumbnail, allowing YouTube to grab an image and let that be the face of their video.
To attract more viewers, you need to be very conscientious when it comes to the thumbnail image, opting for something that is going to make people want to click on it and see what it’s all about.
Case in point, albeit a morbid and gory one, there are a lot of people who are fascinated by looking at crime and accident scenes on YouTube. The ones with the highest number of views are, hands down, those with a grizzly snapshot. In this case, shocking the audience really works.
Of course, you don’t have to have blood and guts on your thumbnail to get someone to click on it, but you should look for something funny, interesting, or strange to accomplish the same goal. It’s a big mistake to have words, logos, or any other ho-hum content as the first taste a person gets of what you have to offer.
Step #7: Shout It From the Rooftops
After your content is complete, people have to know about it in order to view it. For this reason, you can and should promote the heck out of it. Paste in up on Facebook. Tweet it out on Twitter. Add it to your website. Tell your friends. Tell your friends to tell their friends.
Link it to all of your marketing pieces. Find out where your target audience hangs out online and make sure that your video hangs out there, too. The name of the game is shameless promotion, and if you want to succeed, you have to pound the pavement.
The Bottom Line
If you hit the holy grail and actually create a viral video, it can payoff enormously in both business and buzz. Don’t wait around hoping that it will happen; grab the bull by the horns and make it happen.
The marketing game is changing, and viral videos are a huge part of the marketing culture right now. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em – find your target, know where they spend their time online, and produce a high quality video that will wow them or help them in some form or fashion.
No longer is a talking animal or weird stunt enough to make your video take off, though; you have to do a lot behind the scenes to create the perfect content t