Viral Video– We all watched Charlie bite his finger. We’ve seen cute cats and dogs and squirrels doing cute things. We’ve watched, laughed and cried at what we’re seeing on the internet through youtube, vimeo and facebook. But what is the key to making a hit viral video? How can you make a video that will go viral? What we’ll talk about here is the viral video for corporate marketing– not just the everyday guy that wants his fifteen minutes.
Viral Video Defined
First off, let’s define what a viral video is. To be “viral,” a video must be passed around. Someone sees the video and then posts it on their page, or tweets it to their followers. And the numbers must be high. YouTube monetization doesn’t really make a difference until you’ve got over 25,000 followers or a million views on a video. So let’s use those as a benchmark. Also, a viral video is usually between 15 seconds to three minutes. Occasionally they’ll go longer, but rarely over five minutes.
Many clients come desiring to make a viral video, but the other common characteristic is that viral videos tend to not have heavy branding or a hard sell to them. Of course their are exceptions, like when a brand is making fun of themselves (see Dollar Shave Club or PooPouri). But for the most part, the best viral videos for corporate marketing are soft sales. (Check out Beware the Doghouse, you’d don’t realize it’s JC Penney’s until the end.)
Types of Viral Videos
The strongest viral videos use one of three genres for success. Comedic, Emotional, or Sensational.
- Comedic – These are not mildly funny– these are split-your-side-laughing funny. These are so humorous, that the viewer watches and thinks “I’ve GOT to show my friends this one.” But the humorous approach is tricky. Different cultures around the world find certain things funny that another culture finds offensive. So you can knock out some hits or views if going this direction. But these also tend to do the best.
- Emotional – This is the heart-warming story of someone who overcame a huge obstacle. You actually shed a tear when watching this one. Often, it is not used for corporate viral videos, but when it is, it can be incredible. Check out the Pantene “commercial” in which they used the emotional approach. Or any of the America’s Got Talent pieces where the deaf/handicapped/small child does something amazing.
- Sensational – This is the video that you just drop your jaw in amazement. Someone does something absolutely incredible and you can’t turn away. Also check out the America’s Got Talent where it’s amazing but not done by a deaf/handicapped/small child act. This genre has the problem of going to far. What it takes to amaze people today, is not what it took thirty years ago. And this can easily lead to crossing some lines. Think “Hunger Games.”
And then there’s the occasional video that hits two or more of the above genres. The number one viral video? I’m sure you’ve seen it. Gangnam Style. It’s so weird (sensational) and funny.
The Most Important Factor in a Viral Video
The most important element for a successful viral video? Content. Doesn’t matter the production value (as opposed to the normal corporate video). Or the acting. The direction. Content is king. It all comes down to the idea. So spend your time here– come up with a concept that is so strong, people cannot ignore it. Then go about producing the viral video.