So you want a viral video

Feb 13, 2017
Video Production

One of the last things I want to hear a client say when talking about a video production is that they “want it to go viral”. When I think of viral videos, I go straight to things like Psy’s Gangnam Style and Charlie Bit My Finger. They are both great videos that got people to share them around and talk about them.

But where are they now? Sure Psy has put out other songs since Gangnam Style but they haven’t come close to the almost three billion views of his absolute 2013 banger, and I would challenge you to name another one off the top of your head.

And Charlie, is he still biting fingers? We don’t know. That’s one of the main problems with viral videos, normally it is a one-off thing: The video is a household name for a few weeks, months if they’re lucky, and then it just disappears into the large black pit of unwatched internet.

It is the wrong mindset to want to make a viral video. What you need instead is to make a video that has your audience in mind and clearly gets your message across to them. Once you have a solid base, then you have the opportunity to go viral — but that isn’t up to you, that is up to your audience. Once you have built up a good audience and they are regularly interacting with your productions, you can start to think about investing in a video that could reach a broader audience.

Another problem is it is hard for a business to get a video to go viral. Every now and then you will see a video that, after you have watched it, you will look up the brand or product that is being shown off. But normally they all have one thing in common: Large budgets. Companies like Nike, Dove and Coca-Cola all have some very successful videos that have gone viral and that is because they have the budget to put a large amount of time and resources into a video that people will actually want to watch and even share with friends. Out of the top 10 videos that went viral in 2016, only one of them was related directly to a brand and, surprise, surprise, it was a Nike video. So really large companies, with really large budgets, can afford the time for planning and the expense of putting together a really well thought-out potentially “viral” video.

Tips to make your video go viral

Here are a few things that are key to getting your video right, so your audience wants to make it go viral.

1. It has to make your audience feel

If your video doesn’t make your viewer feel anything or have any new opinion, it definitely won’t take off. You need to provoke emotions like humour, empathy, joy or sadness. It just has to make the audience feel something. When you watch a video and you actually are emotionally attached to it in some way, you are more likely to share it around and see if others feel the same way you do.

2. Don’t push your brand too much

When you watch a well-produced viral video for a brand, you don’t actually think about it too much and you are much more interested in what the video is trying to get across. If you watch a video that is full of obvious branding and really trying to say how amazing the company is, people are put off by that. I know for me if I see a big logo that takes up most of the screen over and over again, I most likely keep scrolling and don’t even bother watching it. So strategically place products or logos in a way that don’t distract from the purpose of the video.

3. Don’t waste time

Every second counts when it comes to video productions. The attention span of the human race is getting shorter and shorter every day because we just “don’t have time”. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that you need to have a 10-second video. I have watched viral videos that are eight minutes long because they have kept me engaged throughout the whole video. But I have also started watching eight minute long videos and stopped watching after 30 seconds because they didn’t make me want to continue. Every second needs to have purpose or people just will not watch it.

So when it really comes down to it, I don’t think aiming for a viral video is the way to go about it. You need to please your core audience and, if you do that, they will help you out in return by possibly sharing your video and perhaps, if you’re really lucky, it will go viral. If you’d like help crafting a great video, get in contact with the team at Lush.