How to make a video go viral
Earlier this year I was asked to give advice to one of our clients who wanted to make a ‘viral video’. At first I was a little bit overwhelmed by this request, as my initial view was that something only goes viral if the content is top notch. As Media Guerilla states, “If there’s any real “strategic” part of making a video viral these days, it’s the making of the frigg’n video, it’s the creation of the content”.
And yet, many video’s (and posts) do go viral with content that if I dare to say so myself is weak. Even if Media Guerilla has a point, maybe there is something else to it.
Fact: The video we created did go viral and hit the #1 most viewed slot in our chosen category on YouTube.
Part 1: Content, Content, Content.
Surprisingly it’s often the last thing that is considered. The starting point should be what do we have to say and how can we say it creatively. Even if the ‘dark Jedi tricks’ can make the chances of success go from good to great, if you have poor content then the chances of success equally go from good to hopeless.
Part 2: Outreach
Below is a copy of the email I sent to the team giving them advice on what to do (nb. I have removed client sensitive information including the link to the video). Most of this content was adapted from advice I found on the web – I should point out that Dan Ackerman Greenberg’s post sheds great insight but also commits so many deceptions that I needed to heavily edit his ‘best practice’ techniques.
RULE 1 – be honest and transparent about who you are at all times. No astroturfing. However, doing nothing but hoping this video will go viral will not work – you have to put in some hard work too – suggest you get cracking on the below.
1) Multiple names
Try uploading it with different names – use a different headline to make it more appealing for the surfer who goes by the title
2) Get onto the most viewed page
- Blogs: reach out to individuals who run relevant blogs – be clear who you are – state what you are doing, tell them about why you are did the video and ask them to post our embedded videos.
- Forums: We start new threads and embed our videos. Again be clear who you are and start conversations about the subject – sometimes, this means kickstarting the conversations by setting up a new account on each forum. Yes, it’s tedious and time-consuming, but if done well, it can have a tremendous effect.
- MySpace: Plenty of users allow you to embed YouTube videos right in the comments section of their MySpace pages. We take advantage of this. As above – remember to be clear who you are
- Facebook: Share, share, share. Be part of relevant groups on Facebook and share the video with the entire friends list – this can have a real impact. Other ideas include creating an event that announces the video launch and inviting friends, writing a note and tagging friends, or posting the video on Facebook Video with a link back to the original YouTube video. Needless to say (and I am being repetitive – but don’t spam anyone and be clear who you are).
- Email lists: Send the video to an email list – making sure this list knows who you are and are happy to receive mails from you. Depending on the size of the list (and the recipients’ willingness to receive links to YouTube videos), this can be a very effective strategy.
- Friends: Make sure everyone we know watches the video and try to get them to email it out to their friends, or at least share it on Facebook. Again, be clear as to who you are when doing this.
Each video has a shelf life of 48 hours before it’s moved from the Daily Most Viewed list to the Weekly Most Viewed list, so it’s important that this happens quickly. As I mentioned before, when done right, this is a tremendously successful strategy.
3) Thumbnail Optimization
Change the picture – pick the most interesting bit from the video and make this the photo on the thumbnail
Make comments – be clear who you are – do not have comments with yourself.
Make this video easy to find. Ask yourself what would you type into Google to find this and then ensure these tags are used
As I mentioned before – we followed the above strategy and managed to get to the top of the most viewed list. We were clear at all times who we were and received *no* complaints from the people who we mailed.
Recommended reading for other good ways to make a video go viral:
Marketing Pilgrim – How to Make A Blog Post Go Viral with Social Media
Web Ink Now – 8 tips to make your YouTube video go viral
Social Networking – Tips for Viral Success For The Online Social Networker
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