Viral videos are like the alchemy of online marketing and networking. No one is exactly sure how to make a video turn into viral gold every time, but they know that if they could do it consistently, they would be insanely wealthy.
What comes to your mind when thinking about viral videos? Cats? Harlem Shake? Old Spice?
Could it be that a funny dancing cat will save your business?
Interviewed by YouTube marketing ambassador Jake Larsen, the spokesman behind a very successful YouTube video campaign for Orabrush, Austin Craig, strongly disagreed.
What you’re running is a business. A viral video is like winning the lottery, and buying a lottery ticket is not a business strategy – Austin Craig
The odds of hitting that jackpot are extremely low, even for the best video marketers out there, and the success of a one time hit won’t sustain your business for too long.
Although aiming for viral is not a bad thing, setting it at the core of your strategy is.
These days, the word ‘viral’ is simply unhelpful. ‘Viral’, after all, suggests something that is random, untargeted and out of control.
They are the exception, not the rule, and that’s why it’s a terrible tactic to focus on for you brand. Instead advertisers need to focus on a marketing strategy that’s predictable, repeatable and measurable – social video.
So scratch off ‘make a viral video’ off your company wish list, and instead add ‘create and distribute highly shareable content, repeatedly and at scale’.
Therefore, even better than creating a viral video for your business is to consistently create videos that are successful in targeting the right segment, in getting shared within the right environment and generate scalable business results.
And there are only a few essential ingredients for that:
1. A goal
For a video to get shared or even go viral, it needs to have, just like any other piece of content you push online, a clear purpose.
You might want to get people talking about your company, your product, service, promote a certain campaign or just engage your audience. Either way, you need to set and acknowledge the goal of your video for all the actions that follow are tied to this goal.
2. A target
If you try to create something that everyone will love, you will come up with a generic video that absolutely no one will care about.
Instead, narrow down your focus to the one specific demographic, like teen surfers or urban mothers, that you really want to know about your video, and make it for them.
Hint: It features supermodel Bar Refaeli making out with nerdy-looking guy and it ran during the Super Bowl.
3. A hook
Generally, people share things online for one of two reasons: either they want to share the emotion they felt with others, or they want to raise their social standing by sharing practical and useful content.
You need to decide reason for which you want people to share your video.
Positive uplifting content that inspires surprise, amusement and awe is shared more.
The most successful videos, for example, tend to be funny or amusing. People will easily share things that entertain them, and everyone likes comedy (though tastes in comedy are subjective). If anything is going to transcend borders and taste, it’s something that is funny – which explains the international success of Gangnam Style, the most watched video on YouTube.
But depending on who your audience is, they might prefer things that are sexy, scary, dangerous or weird rather than funny. These are all hooks that you can add to your video to make it more shareable.
Even if you are trying to create an appealing video for a serious company, you can still be funny – or at least amusing. That is what Blendtec, a company that manufactures blenders, did in its series “Will It Blend?” They took a silly concept – blending objects one doesn’t normally blend to demonstrate the effectiveness of their blenders – and ran with it. Now, their series of videos are some of the most watched and most shared online.
Try thinking laterally about what you want to say, instead of just thinking conventionally. Try doing something unique with your concept, like telling a familiar story with new or different techniques.
You also need to make sure to adapt to the specifics of video advertising. Always remember that you are competing with the rest of the internet. If you don’t grab the viewer right away, something else will distract them.
Think of the length of the video. It should be short, as the average viewer will only watch a video for 15-30 seconds, and sometimes less if it doesn’t grab them right away. Keep your video to two minutes or less – any longer, and people feel like they have to invest too much time to watch your video and they will bounce.
In short, creating a video set up for viral or better than viral success is all about careful planning and execution. Think about a specific target audience, and why would they share a video – your video. Keep it short, and get to the point right away. Put a hook in there, so people will be more likely to share it. With that, you should be able to achieve truly appealing and successful videos.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.