chapter 20

Create a Viral Video

Creating a viral video that works is no easy task. However, they are fun and worth doing if you have the budget or skill-set. Nothing will get you more creatively in touch with your brand – and nothing will unveil the true voice of your brand more than a great viral video. That’s why you should try them. Anytime you spend energy unlocking the boring out of your brand, it’s always well worth it.

Watch this video that Dollar Shave Club created and you'll instantly understand how this video has shaped the culture, values and voice of this company:

How to Be Viral

There are a few ways to make a video viral – and it doesn’t always mean you have to be funny. Of course, humor works really well. Below are five characteristics that viral videos can fall under:

  1. Surprising (unexpected)
  2. Interesting
  3. Intense
  4. Positive
  5. Actionable (practically useful)

Let’s go over each one of these characteristics with real videos that worked. 

Blendtec is a company that makes very robust blenders. For their viral videos they blend unusual items like mobile and tablet devices. Their first video now has millions of views on YouTube. The beauty of these videos is that promoting the product in a surprising and unexpected way works for them. However, sometimes being too promotionally direct about your product will make your viral effort backfire.

National Geographic did a very simple video discussing the world’s population, using interesting comparisons to show how big that number “7 billion” really is. This video has clocked over 2 million views.

GoPro is a company that has used their product to produce very intense videos. Each video they put out gets their customers and prospects excited. From being right in the middle of a wave barrel, to seeing what it’s like in the first person to do backflips on a snowboard - GoPro videos keep people glued for hours. Most of their videos have each gotten several millions of views.

Finally, wendylookbook.com created a very actionable video called "25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes!" If you're a fashion ecommerce merchants, you need to watch and learn from this masterpiece - and note it doesn't have super high production value.

What it Takes to Go Viral

Just having a funny video or all the right components in your video to make it go viral, doesn’t mean anything will happen. YouTube’s Trends manager, Kevin Allocca, says it takes two groups of people to make a video go viral:

  1. Tastemakers – People of influence who take new, interesting or funny things and share them with a larger audience. The most common example of this is when a well-known celebrity Tweets or shares a link to a viral video. For example when high school senior Jake Davidson created a video attempting to woo Kate Upton and ask her to the prom, it blew up all over the media when she replied directly to him on Twitter.
  2. Participators – These are people who incorporate or do something new with your video, like make a parody of it. For example, everyone loved the hit and catchy song "Somebody that I Used to Know" by Gotye, but the YouTube community took it to a whole other level with a steady stream of parodies.

These groups of people are the catalyst that makes videos spread like wildfire. You should find tactful ways to get your content in front of the right influencers in your industry, so that your video has the fuel to take off.

Don’t Forget to Have a Clear Value Proposition

Now, if you’re lucky you may come up with the funniest video of all time, but if you don’t incorporate a clear message of what your value proposition is, then it may be all for nothing. So basically, viewers of your video need to know the single most important benefit of what you have to offer.

Don’t just slap your logo and website address on your video and call it a day. Think through your video and see if you have clearly expressed your value proposition. Then, survey people to see if they can determine what your value proposition is. Try to get around 40 responses.

Be Prepared for Ideas to Come at Any Time

Often times, your idea for a great viral video will come when you least expect it. The best way to handle these disruptive situations is to simply grab your mobile phone and jot down the idea in your note taking application. Be sure to thoroughly examine your vision and write down every detail that you see in your mind. Whatever you do – don’t gloss over the idea by writing down a few incomprehensible notes. It’s the small nuances of your vision that might really put the polishing touches on your video.

Then email it to yourself for review later. Try to come back to it a few hours later when you have time to devote to the idea. Setting aside time to review your idea is worth it. If the video does well, you’ll be glad you invested those fifteen minute to look at it.

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Chances are you’re not going to hit a grand slam the first time out. So make it a company effort to put out a good video every quarter or bi-annually. It’s great for building brand culture and deconstructing what your company is really about, on top of it all, it's a great deal of fun. The best thing about this strategy is that with relatively low risk and investment, you can be playing on the same playing field as the big boys both in terms of exposure and if you're lucky, sales..

Next chapter

21. Start Your Own Blog

4 min

Start your free 14-day trial today!