How to Make Your Videos Go Viral

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What is Viral Video Marketing

Going Viral
Tips for Creating Viral Marketing Videos Going Viral. The Independent Film Channel LLC

Viral Marketing Tips

Gone are the days where a great video can go viral on its own. With billions of videos on YouTube and other video sites, how can you get yours to go viral?

Here are tips and advice on how to get the most out of viral marketing campaigns using video promotions to get your business branded, noticed, and gone viral.

The term “viral” describes the way a message can become self-replicating as it is picked up and repeated across the Internet.

What is Internet-based viral marketing?

Definition: The exploitation of Internet media and online social networks to promote brand awareness and recognition, or to meet other specific sales, marketing, or publicity objectives.

The term “viral” describes the way a message can become self-replicating as it is picked up and repeated across the Internet.

How Viral Marketing Works

Viral marketing harnesses the power of the Internet by identifying and delivering a marketing message to online communities and individuals that have a high Social Networking Potential (SNP) in hope that the message will be (replicated) passed along.

What Makes Something go Viral?

Anything that strikes a chord with enough people with high SNP to pass it along to others has the potential to go viral. Viral marketing increases the chances of a message going viral by purposely and strategically mass promoting a message.

Can Any Video go Viral

Sorry, no.

But the right marketing approach and use of modern technology to share your video globally can greatly increase the chances of your video being view – and shared.

The operative word in all successful viral campaigns is “shared.” The more people who share your video, the more likely it will go viral.

Remember, the word “viral” refers to self-replicating. If people are not sharing your video (replicating), it will never truly go viral.

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How Much Should You Spend on a Viral Marketing Video?

Yes, this company really destroyed an iPhone in one of their blenders.
Tips for Creating Viral Marketing Videos Yes, this company really destroyed an iPhone in one of their blenders. BlendTec.com

Check any major video publishing site and you will see a mixture of million dollar ads and 50-cent ads going viral.

How Much You Should Spend on Creating Viral Marketing Videos

Spend as much as you comfortably can, or as little as you’ve got.

When determining your video budget, consider the size of the market you might be able to capture. Very finite markets may warrant smaller budgets - global markets, which are more competitive may require more money.

Examples of Low Budget Viral Videos

There are many examples of low-budget videos that have gone viral. Consumers do not care how much money you spent, they care about the “pass-it-along-to-others” value. Is it funny? Freakish? Inspiring? Does it reveal some new secret?

Check any major video publishing site or "top 10" video reports and you will see a mixture of million dollar ads and 50-cent ads.

  • AARP “Lost Generation.” The simple reading of a poem forwards and then backwards lends a powerful message about life. This video probably took less than an hour to create (not counting the time it took to write the clever message.) It contains no actors, no graphics, no music. Cheap - but powerful.
  • Will it Blend? This company has made its mark in the world of blenders by taking unusual items and grinding them up in their blenders. Items have included iPods (at the request of YouTube fans), air soft guns, glow sticks, golf balls, cameras, and even a ski.

    Aside from the cost of products they destroy, their videos are very low budget and very impressive.

  • OK Go on Treadmills: This low-budget video "Here We Go Again," is so much fun to watch it captured a staggering 1 million views on YouTube in the first 6 days it went live in 2006. Today, the video has been viewed more than 50 million times, rocketing album sales, and earning the band a Grammy award for "Best Short-Form Music Video" in 2006. Unique, yet simple choreography sets this video apart from the traditional music video format of sex, drugs, drama, and more sex. (This would have been a phenomenal ad for a treadmill company.)

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3 Elements All Viral Marketing Videos Should Have

Tips for Creating Viral Marketing Videos. YouTube

One way videos go viral is through remixes. Your video will stand a better chance of going viral if it is a concept that can be duplicated (and made fun of.)

The Magic Formula for Creating a Marketing Video With Viral Potential

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for creating viral marketing videos. However, most highly effective marketing videos capture and relate three elements:

  1. A problem;
  2. An exaggeration of the problem; and
  3. The solution you are offering.

One way videos go viral is through replication and remixes. Your video will stand a better chance of going viral if it is a concept that can be easily duplicated (and made fun of.)

Pants on The Ground, a viral video of a 62-year-old man auditioning for "American Idol" had 5.8 Million views in first five days it went live and inspiring 32 duplicate remix videos in the same period.

What to Include in Your Video

Include at least one thing that uniquely identifies and brands your business (i.e., a logo, color scheme, theme music, etc.) that can be used in other videos or marketing materials.

Contact information, preferably a simple website address or phone number if you do not have one.

How Long Should Your Video Be?

The most effective viral marketing videos are 20 seconds to one minute in length (some marketing experts recommend 15-second videos, and breaking longer videos into a series of shorts.) If your message is truly compelling and well-done some people might watch longer. But statistically, the shorter the better.

Tips for Entering Viral Video Business Contests

Obviously, you need to follow all contest rules and have a great idea. But that will not be enough to get you in the running to win. If you are creating a video for a contest be sure to submit a professional quality video. I have yet to see a low-quality homemade video win any business video contest no matter how great the content was.

In video contests sound, graphics, scripting, and videography all count. Low-quality videos will never business contests – you must present a great idea in a great format.

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Video File Formats You Should Use to Make Marketing Videos

Prism Video Converter Software
Tips for Creating Viral Marketing Videos Prism Video Converter Software. NCHC Software

Do not repeatedly transcode file formats. Each time you compress from one file format to another it will slightly degrade the quality of your video.

Video File Formats to Use

Video publishing sites will not take .MSWMM files (the default Windows Movie Maker file extension.) You will need to create or transcode to one of the following formats to be compatible with most major video publishing sites:

  • Windows Media Video (.WMV)
  • .3gp (cell phones)
  • .avi (windows)
  • .mov (mac)
  • .mp4 (ipod/psp)
  • .mpeg
  • .flv (adobe flash)
  • .mkv (h.264)

It is important that you do not repeatedly transcode file formats. Each time you compress from one file format to another it will slightly degrade the quality of your video.

It is also worth mentioning, for video SEO purposes, that Google crawls the following video file types:

  • .asf
  • .avi
  • .flv
  • .mpg
  • .mpeg
  • .mp4
  • .mov
  • .ra
  • .ram
  • .rm
  • .wmv

All files must be accessible via HTTP. Metafiles that require a download of the source via streaming protocols are not supported by Googlebot and will not be indexed.

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How to Test Market Videos Before Launching Them

2 Boys Back-to-Back
Tips for Creating Viral Marketing Videos 2 Boys Back-to-Back. Chris Stein

Children can provide honest feedback about the quality of your videos. If a child can understand your message, chances are most grownups will get it, too.

Test Market Your Videos Before You Attempt to Go Viral

Three most important rules of test marketing marketing videos:

  1. Never set up the video for viewers. Just let them watch and get their first and most honest reaction;
  2. Ask other people to watch your video and tell you what they like, do not like, and what they learned from it; and
  3. Don't be a know-it-all; listen and learn from what your viewers are saying and be willing to make adjustments where appropriate.

Choosing The Right Test Subjects

Be sure to show any marketing videos you create to at least five other people before you take it live. Include people who represent demographics of any markets you plan to target. For example, if your business sells consulting services, include professionals from groups that you might sell your services too. If you sell clothing for women, include women in your test market group.

Kids Can be Your Best Marketing Critics

Unless you are marketing something that might be considered harmful or offensive to children, always ask at least 2-3 children ages 8-12 what they think about your video. Children tend to make quick judgments and are usually more honest about what they like and do not like than adults.

As with adult test subjects, do not tell kids what your video is about. Just have them watch and ask what they thought the message was. If your message is clear to a school-aged child, it will be clear to the masses.

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The Importance of Video SEO

Thumbnails from Big Cat Rescue's YouTube Channel Page
Tips for Creating Viral Marketing Videos Thumbnails from Big Cat Rescue's YouTube Channel Page. Big Cat Rescue

Search engine optimization is critical if you want to achieve maximum results from your video content.

Yes, Virginia, Search Engine Optimization is Necessary for Marketing Videos

Grant Crowell, a respected analyst and video SEO expert for REELSeo.com, reports that "38% of users who searched Google are served video in Universal search engine results."

Search engine optimization is critical if you want to achieve maximum results from your video content.

There are many ways to optimize your videos:

  • Thumbnail optimization;
  • Title optimization;
  • Include keyword rich, relevant text in web pages adjacent to the video and in captions;
  • Get quality links from websites to your videos;
  • Create a video sitemap and submit it to search engines;
  • Include links and allow URL crawls in your robots.txt file to your video sitemap..

Thumbnail SEO Tips

  • Use high-quality thumbnail images.
  • Choose your thumbnails - do not automatically go with what a video publisher chooses for you. (YouTube grabs an image from the middle of the video, and two other random images.)
  • Whenever possible include a face or image of a person in your thumbnails (if your video is about animals, choose a winning shot of the animal).

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Video Analytics is Necessary to Understand Trends - Yours and Your Competitions

Trends come and go. Are you following the latest video trends?
Tips for Creating Viral Marketing Videos Trends come and go. Are you following the latest video trends?. domynyckfenix.wordpress.com

Analytics, the science of studying and analyzing data to make decisions based on data analysis is a vital component in getting your video message to go viral.

Studying Your Own Trends

It is important to study your competition, but it is even more important that you study your own video trends. Analytics, the science of studying and analyzing data to make decisions based on data analysis is a vital component in getting your video message to go viral.

Who is watching? Where? What comments are being made? All these data bites can help you build better videos and marketing campaigns.

Video Analytics

You can spend a lot of time watching video statistics across multiple video publishing platforms, (and uploading videos to multiple sites), or you can use one of the many services or software applications that can aggregate information into one convenient source.

A great place to start is with TubeMogul, a free service that provides a single point for uploading your videos to reach top video sharing sites. Their free service level allows deployment of up to 100. Their free analytics provide data on who, what, and how videos are being viewed, as well as per-second audience dropoff.

TubeMogul also publishes a list of videos submitted through their site that make the top 40. Top videos on TubeMogul are getting hundreds of millions of views (as of 01/17/2010, the #1 video is fast approaching 1 billion views.)

List of 10 Video Distribution Services to Try – and Some to Avoid.

Study Viral Video Trends

Study videos making "hot" lists on video publishing sites. Try to figure out what is trending (because you may never understand why>.) Look at thumbnails, titles, and content. Are there any common threads? Do certain keywords, images, or subject material keep appearing? This information can serve as an important tool in deciding what to include in your own videos – or, in how to present them.

Viral Viral Video Chart lists the top 20 viral videos. Included in data they provide are the number of views, blog posts, comments, tweets, and duplicate videos. Viewing statistics are showed in chart format so you can watch how each video is trending (including five day averages.)

AdAge’s digital section discusses trends and hot viral marketing videos. You need to create an account and purchase credits (or subscribe) to read the full articles, but they are usually meaty enough to warrant a paid subscription.

Tip: Many of AdAge’s articles come up in Google cached pages so you can view them for free. Google: “site:adage.com top video charts” and click through on search results to view them for free.

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Plan for Successful Viral Marketing - Know How You Will Handle Increased Traffic

Get your staff ready to handle an increase in business before launching a viral marketing campaign.
Always Launch Your Viral Video Campaign With 3 to 5 Videos Get your staff ready to handle an increase in business - the reward of a successful viral video campaign. Christopher Robbins

To get the most out of viral video marketing you need to have a success plan in place and more than one video prior to launching a viral marketing campaign.

Prepare For Successful Viral Marketing

Viral videos are flash-in-the-pan sensations, but if successful, your business could get flooded with calls or your website may suddenly experience large spikes in traffic. You need to plan for increased business in advance - don't let a successful marketing campaign take your business by surprise.

The Oprah Winfrey Conundrum

More than one small business owner who appeared on Oprah met with overwhelming and instant success. But this is not always a good thing. Some business owners reported that their websites went down due to high traffic, others said they could not keep up with phone calls and the demand for their products. Oprah is not to blame. These business owners were simply not prepared for the successful outcome of publicity that they sought.

You need to plan in advance to maximize potential publicity by having your website updated and printed information (if applicable) ready to send out. Gear up your staff and call center. High-level publicity will hurt your business if you drive thousands of people to your website and are not ready for them.

One Video is Never Enough

You need to have more than one video in your vault before launching a viral video marketing campaign. If someone sees the video you are promoting and likes it, they may look for other similar videos from your company.

Each video should be branded to your company and offer a link to your website or phone number. Do not leave interested viewers hanging - chances are few will Google your company to find out how to contact you.

Try to launch your campaign with three to five videos and add to your video collection over time. If you only have one video - don't try to take it viral until you have more because one video is a clear indication you are just not ready yet. If you don't have time and resources to make more than one video, you probably don't have the ability to handle hundreds of calls a day either.

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The Empty Tip Jar Syndrome

A comments section is the same thing as a tip jar. Add a
How to Get Comments on Your YouTube Videos Your comments section is the same thing as a tip jar. Add a "comment buck" to get others to join in with their own tips.

Power YouTube Tip: Create more than one account and talk to yourself.

You've Published Your Video - No One is Commenting - Now What?

The “no one wants to be the first to comment syndrome” is akin to the “empty tip jar syndrome” at your local Starbucks. No one wants to be the first to put in a tip – no one else has tipped so why should you? The solution: put in a few dollars yourself and other “real” tippers will follow.

Stir Up Interest By Starting Controversy

Since most people who view videos on YouTube are not even logged in, without starting some meaningful conversation, you are unlikely to get many comments just by “being there.”

Every successful YouTuber does two things to attract more views and comments:

  1. They create multiple accounts; and
  2. They comment on their own videos, particularly with clever insults and/or disagreements.

This same trick is commonly used across all social media to get people talking on blogs, forums, and even on social media sites like Ning and Facebook.

The best way to get people talking (or just reading threads) is to be controversial without being nasty. No one wants to read line after line of sappy praise (or vulgarities.) Say something that will incite people to disagree with you. You do not have to be rude or insensitive or start a “flame war” but how many people will comment back to “nice job, love the video?”

Pace Your Own Conversations

Be sure to span out your own replies. Don’t comment back and forth to yourself more than every few hours or better, once a day. People are smart; they will catch on quickly if you are the only poster and only post comments on your own videos. It pays to offer some balance and post nice things about other peoples’ videos – they may visit your videos and comment back.

It's Okay to Delete Comments

If someone (a real visitor) joins in and gets too nasty, delete the comment. A rude customer in a restaurant will get kicked out for ruining the dining experience for others. If someone is posting truly negative or inappropriate comments – delete them. Just remember, leaving controversial comments can sometimes be a very good thing to get more attention.

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Corporate and Brand Videos That Went Viral

Diet Coke and Mentos Experiments - An explosive viral video.
Different Styles, Different Approaches, But All Have One Thing in Common Diet Coke and Mentos Experiments - An explosive viral video. Eepybird.com

Viral marketing increases the chances of a message going viral by purposely and strategically mass promoting a message.

What Makes a Video go Viral?

Anything that strikes a chord with enough people willing to pass it along to others has the potential to go viral. Viral marketing increases the chances of a message going viral by purposely and strategically mass promoting a message.

Corporate and Brand Videos That Went Viral - and Why

The following videos have all gone viral. None are even remotely similar in content or presentation. But they all resonated with a wide audience because they went beyond funny and or clever: they connected with some basic part tenant of human nature.

  • Bensons for Beds - Mattress Dominoes World Record Attempt. Agency: Wand. Get your employees involved in something fun and they will tell friends and post their own plugs for your business. Grassroots public support is where all viral marketing begins.

  • Diet Coke and Mentos Experiments: Do something fun with your product and you might spawn hundreds of your own experimental videos that further promote sales.
  • Hillary 1984: An employee of an online communications firm that worked with the Obama campaign put out an anti-Hillary video that quickly went viral. This video, with more than 5.9 million views, effectively branded Obama as the "alternative to Hillary." Sometimes, what you say about the competition can be even more powerful than what you have to say about yourself (at least in politics.)
  • The Evolution of Dance: Comedian Judson Laipply's video has been viewed more than 135 million times. His dance act pulls together music from the 50s to the 90s, appealing to audiences of all ages. We laugh at his dance moves because we all did at least some of them at some point in our lives.
  • Flea Market Montgomery: Sammy Stevens, business owner and rapper who performs jingles in commercials, boosted his local star power when one of his videos went viral. Stevens uses his fame to solicit support for local charities. His appeal is his wide-eyed, over enthusiastic style and unabashed flamboyance. We all know someone like Sammy.

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How Cute and Talented Kids Can Improve Your Chances of a Video Going Viral

Mikey - Life Cereal Commercial
Tips for Creating Viral Marketing Videos Mikey - Life Cereal Commercial. Doyle, Dane & Bernbach Agency / Quaker Oats

If you are stumped for creative ideas and fresh concepts (try thinking harder or hire a marketing firm) test the waters with kid-injected videos.

Cute and Talented Kids Sell Products

Videos that show cute or talented children often go viral. Some, like the most viewed video of all time on YouTube, “Charlie Bit Me,” have staying power, especially if there are giggles involved.

If you are stumped for creative ideas and fresh concepts (try thinking harder or hire a marketing firm) test the waters with kid-injected videos.

Classic Examples of Kid-Injected Commercials Gone Viral

A classic example of a successful commercial that went word-of-mouth and knock-off viral is Oscar Mayer’s bologna commercial with a curly-haired boy fishing while eating a sandwich and singing a simple jingle about b-o-l-o-g-n-a. Success Ingredients: Low-budget, short, and one adorable kid.

Another highly successful advertising campaign that remains talked about today is Life cereal’s “Hey Mikey” commercials. The commercial used three freckle-faced brothers arguing about eating cereal. The successful marketing strategy combined adorable kids with a clever, quotable lines.

It is important to note, that just because you think your own child (and everything they do) is adorable, does not necessarily mean everyone else will. Business and marketing is about what sells. Be objective and choose children and subject matter that have the widest appeal.

View Both Clips Together

Top Performing Kid Videos Today

  • Charlie Bit My Finger: This short features two adorable brothers and is the number one most viewed video of all time on YouTube. This video appeals to parents and to children. And, if you read some of the more than 380,000 comments on this video, apparently it appeals to kids who have siblings, too.
  • Fred Figglehorn: Fred Figglehorn is a fictitious 6-year-old with anger management problems. Fred is played by a Columbus, Nebraska teenager named Lucas Cruikshank. His videos went viral and launched several websites, Fred products, and even garnered Cruikshank a cameo appearance on the Disney hit show iCarly.
  • Evil Eyes: Once again an adorable baby does nothing but make faces into the camera stealing hearts and millions of views. Morale: Cute sells, even when doing nothing out of the ordinary.
  • Canon in D: Beating out top professional musicians on YouTube, this talented Asian teen (who goes by the moniker "Funtwo" and hides his face behind a hat Dwight Yokum style) plays Canon in D on his electric guitar to the tune of more than 68.5 million views. Many of his other similar videos also have more than 1 million views.

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Embarrassing Videos That Went Viral - And Why

Afro Ninja 2
Humiliating Yourself Can Be Very Appealing to Millions of People Afro Ninja 2. ebaumsworld.com

As much as embarrassing moments make us cringe, they entertain and mesmerize us. We related to human moments captured on video, and we pass them along.

Embarrassing Videos That Went Viral

As much as embarrassing moments make us cringe, they entertain and mesmerize us - and we pass them along.

Here are a few humiliating and embarrassing videos that went viral, and some of the reasons why.

  • Lauren Caitlin Upton: Upton, a contestant from South Carolina in the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant was asked why Americans are unable to locate the U.S. on a map. She began, "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps," and went on to reference "the Iraq" and "Asian countries." The video has had more than 39 million views. It perpetuates the dumb blond, dumb beauty queen stereotype. And, it makes the rest of us feel a little smarter.
  • Numa Numa Dance: Gary Brolsma, the young man doing the Numa Numa dance in his chair, publicly stated he was rather embarrassed when his video went viral - which prompted even more views. Brolsma's video received coverage from Good Morning America, The Tonight Show, and VH1's Best Week Ever, with the Numa Numa Dance video being listed as number 1 on VH1s Top 40 Internet Superstars. Most of us have sung into hairbrushes, invisible mikes, and sang off key to our favorite songs, or made videos of ourselves never meant to be aired. We feel uncomfortable spying on Gary Brolsma but somehow that makes us feel like sharing it with others even more.
  • Grape Lady: A woman falls during a live TV show while stomping grapes. This video probably went viral for the same reason people rubberneck traffic accidents: its horrifying and frankly, the woman was so annoying in the beginning of the video, that an evil part deep inside just has to chuckle.
  • Afro Ninja 2: A group of grown men acting tough humiliating themselves martial arts style. Macho, stooge-like pratfalls. Appealing to men, boys, and wives married to man-boys.

A final video worth mentioning was never intended to be humiliating to singer Rick Astley. Yet for some reason, someone somewhere decided the video, "Never Gonna Give You Up" was a hoot and began sending links to the video on YouTube disguised as links to important news, jokes, or "must reads." This prank was soon known as "Rickrolling" and the term became as viral as the video itself.

In November 2008, Rick Astley was nominated for Best Act Ever at the MTV Europe Music Awards after the online nomination form was flooded with votes. Although he won by an overwhelming number of votes he did not accept the award.

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Final Tips and Getting Your First Inbound Link to Your Video

Start branding your business with video marketing.
Tips for Creating Viral Marketing Videos Start branding your business with video marketing. www.darmano.typepad.com

Get a great inbound link - share your video on Women in Business.

Final Tips for Creating a Powerful Viral Video

It is Not About the Money: Depending upon the nature of your business, you may be able to get away with using videos that have a “home grown feel” or that use low-end technology and still develop a following. It is not about the money you invest - it is about how effectively and creatively you convey a viral message.

Sending the Right Message: Remember, viral business marketing does not serve the same interests as a silly video made in a low-lighted living room does. You want your video to reach the masses – but with the right message about your company.

Make Yourself Recognizable: Your videos can be similar, but should offer a different message about your company or talk about other products and services. For example, you might start each video with a particular sound bite, image, or color theme to brand your videos. With the right marketing, this can help consumer viewers recognize other videos you produce. (You can also serial brand at the end of a video just be sure that all videos have at least one common, recognizable feature.)

Don't Fake It: Be true to your heart and your mission. Do not try to force video messages just to gain popularity. Your message should reflect your business' values, purpose, and mission.

How to Get Your First Inbound Link

Get started promoting your video on Women in Business. Share information about your video and business as well as a link to your video: Share Your Business Video and Start Going Viral!

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