8 Common Factors of Viral Videos
We all would love to create a video that goes viral. There’s only one problem, it’s not very easy to do. Creators can spend their entire lives working to make that one video that everyone just has to see, only to have it end up all for nothing. On the flip side, someone can do something incredibly stupid on film and end up the next big thing (Cash Me Outside?)
The truth is that what goes viral is often unpredictable and at the mercy of the masses. There is absolutely no “fool proof” method to making a viral video. Anyone that tries to offer this to you is simply full of crap. Sorry, I see it all the time on Fiverr and it makes me laugh. Do people really think some generous guy is going to sell his ability to make any video viral for the low price of $5?
While there may be no perfect method to making a video go viral, there are some factors that many of these smash hits share. By aiming to make videos that have these attributes, you can increase your chances of having a viral success story.
Evokes Strong Emotion
We are humans after all and sometimes we just can’t help, but get emotional. When you’re dealing with a topic that people are passionate about it can get them sharing. Usually you see humor videos or cute cat videos go viral because they evoke a happy emotion and for the most part we all want to be happy.
It doesn’t just apply to happy emotions though. Many sad stories or videos that bring anger also can go viral. Social media is a place where people sometimes go to vent (we all have that one friend that is always angry about something). If it causes a strong enough sense of anger in someone they may feel the need to spread it out there to get other people talking as well.
If you take nothing else from this article, take shareability to the bank. In order for something to go viral it has to be shared a lot. If you want this to happen than the content had better be worth sharing around.
What makes content shareable? It all depends really, when you see something online and think to yourself ‘I bet Jan would love to see this’ or ‘I can’t wait to be the first to share this’ ask yourself why. What is it about the content that makes you so eager to spread it around? Is this something you can replicate?
Covers a Large Demographic
If you want to go viral you need to have content that would apply to a large group of people. Although I preach niche all the time, viral videos typically have a very large niche of people. For example, kitten videos can be enjoyed by most pet lovers. This niche is very large and tough to crack, but if you do the possibilities are huge.
Another style video would be things that most of us experience. Whether it is a video about celebrities or common life events, most of us can relate to these topics. Smaller niche videos such as the niche I operate in, content creation, may not have a large enough following to truly go viral in. Fortunately this doesn’t mean you can’t have success with smaller niches, you might just never go viral with it.
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Enticing Title or Hook
Humans have a short attention span and it’s statistically getting shorter over time. This means that video creators have even less time to get users to keep watching their content. That is where an enticing title or hook comes into play.
We see titles like ‘You’ll never believe what he did’ or ‘It was a normal day until her boyfriend did THIS’ and they are kind of annoying. Usually the articles are a let down, but you will continue to see these types of titles regardless because they have historically produced clicks and interest. We can’t help ourselves, we just have to know what the boyfriend did. It’s simply human psychology.
Titles that also perform well can include lists ‘5 things only 90s kids will understand’ or titles that have strong wording also increase clicks. Words like Beware, Deadly, Horrific, Crazy, or Warning can grab the attention of the reader and cause them to click.
What good is a Christmas video in March? Exactly.
This also applies to news stories that are very time sensitive. If you can get the jump on other creators it could help propel your video into the spotlight.
Luckily there are a lot of tools you can utilize to see what people are searching for and what it hot right now. Google Trends is one of the most popular tools, it shows you certain search patterns that are trending. It also allows you to search specific terms to see how they perform during certain times of the year in the past. Other great sources would be the Trending Now bars on Facebook and Twitter.
It’s important to note that some content is “evergreen” meaning it can be reasonably consumed anytime. A lot of content viral content is evergreen making timeliness less of an important factor for those particular videos.
As with most videos you want to provide a strong value. Whether you’re providing entertainment or education, the content has to be deemed as valuable by the user if you expect them to share it.
The best way to determine this would be to gauge the comments, likes, and dislikes of content you post. People that find it to have value may comment on it or give it a thumbs up. However people that do not think it’s valuable may abandon the video early or leave some nasty feedback for you. Another suggestion is to take a good hard look at your content before publishing it and ask yourself this: ‘If it weren’t me in the video, would I still watch and enjoy this video?’ If you can’t honestly say yes, than how can you expect others to do so?
Simple to Understand or Share
Most people aren’t going to be interested in complex reading or long-winded content. They want something that is simple to understand and easy to consume. The content also has to be easily shareable. If you make it super easy to share content to Facebook, you’ll likely see more shares than someone that doesn’t take the time to add share buttons. Simple and Easy is the name of the game here. I’m not saying people are lazy… or am I?
The platform you post the content on matters as well. Places like Instagram are meant to showcase short videos or photo content. YouTube, however, showcases content of a variety of lengths. Other factors that can affect the platform of choice is the demographic that’s consuming it. Apps like Snapchat can attract a younger audience, but maybe that’s not where your viewers are. Getting the right platform for the type of content and type of audience can really help launch it towards success.
Don’t let this article fool you. There is plenty of success to be found in small niches that are less likely to go viral. So if you’re a content creator this means you don’t have to focus all of your energy on filming cute animal footage. Small niches are likely easier to break into and should have less competition. It’s more important to create content for value and based on your passion. Creating content for the purpose of going viral specifically rarely works, so don’t sweat it.
About Eric Miner: I’ve been managing websites for about 20 years at this point. I have spent the last 3 years focusing on video content. I’ve read hundreds of articles, posted hundreds of videos, and listened to dozens on podcasts on the subjects. Now I’m sharing those opinions and findings with all of you.
I’ve also created my own Creator Freebie Guide that lists many great resources for content creators, the best part is it’s 100% free. This listing includes links to free music, videos, pictures, editing software and more. If you’re interested in downloading the Freebie Guide click here to go to my website.