What Makes a Video Go Viral?

By Rob Ciampa, Theresa Moore, John Carucci, Stan Muller, Adam Wescott

Viral videos usually have a humorous or quirky feel to them, and though most of the time they unintentionally gather a mass following, some corporations have managed to produce successful viral videos quite intentionally. But there’s no guarantee that your video will find success, even if it’s a promotional video with big money behind it.

Like the countless grains of sand, millions of videos are uploaded to YouTube — but only a few become viral sensations. As with winning the lottery, the success of a viral video is more “hoped for” than “planned for.” Still, you can improve your chances by considering some attributes that other viral videos have displayed.

Consider these suggestions:

  • Engage the viewer. You have to grab their attention before they know what hit them.

  • Be relevant. Trends and pop culture references have a wide appeal to audiences, so why not integrate them into your video?

  • Add humor. Make ’em laugh and they’ll keep coming.

  • Be brief. After grabbing viewers’ attention and holding their interest, don’t take a chance on losing by going on too long or having a lull in the action.

  • Use popular subjects. The biggest YouTube video of 2014 showed a dog dressed as a giant spider. So consider animals as one popular subject.

After completing and uploading your video, here are some aspects that will help it along its viral path:

  • Spread the news over social media. Tweet out your video link, post it on Facebook, and ask friends to share it.

  • Send out emails. Send out an email blast with the YouTube link.

  • Blog about it. If you have a blog, then blog about your video. Also reach out to other bloggers and ask them to do the same.

  • Listen to feedback. It’s no secret that comments found on YouTube can be hurtful, but some are actually helpful. Try to sift through them to find what people like about your video.