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6 essential tips on making sure your video goes viral

8 January, 2014

Happy New Year! Hope you all had a great holiday and are refreshed and ready for a great 2014!

I’ve talked a lot about video content and video blogging recently, and that’s because of its power as sharable content. So I’m going to conclude our focus on video with six tips on how you can help to ensure your video goes viral.

Whether it’s Evian’s dancing babies or Gangnam Style, there is one thing that all viral videos have in common – they follow a definite formula. They may appear to be effortless and appear from the middle of nowhere but in fact, very precise steps re used to create viral videos.

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1) Capture attention quickly

When it comes to viral marketing, undoubtedly one of the most crucial points is ensuring the video captures attention within the first five seconds. Techniques such as dramatic intros, good choice of music, action sequences and (if your budget can stretch that far) the featuring of celebrities. This proven none more so in the viral video created by Turkish Airlines featuring Messi vs Kobe: Legends on Board, which featured the two famous sports stars within the first five seconds. The video was the most viewed online branded viral video of 2012 and has over 107 million views to date.

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2) Story-time

You need to ensure that you focus on telling the story and not just selling the product. Viewers see straight through a sales pitch that doesn’t offer them anything: they will be likely to switch off and not share, stopping the viral video in its tracks. By concentrating on creating a compelling narrative, it doesn’t matter that you haven’t really mentioned what it is you’re selling. Think about the adorable Evian’s Baby & Me for instance, the actual product isn’t mentioned at all and is only shown in very last 5 seconds. With over 69 million views, the dancing babies were a hit and Evian the product is likely to be firmly implanted in the subconscious of water drinkers everywhere.

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3) Surprise Surprise

We all love a good surprise and it’s therefore no surprise that this is one of the best viral tactics to use – if you get it right. But while it’s good to surprise, I would advise against using shock tactics. Videos need to be shared by viewers to make them go viral and if the video contains graphic or overly explicit content that pushes the limits, people are likely to hold off from sharing for fear they might offend friends, family or colleagues. Check out this blog by Red Slice for some examples of good and bad viral marketing campaigns and Dan Zarella’s blog entitled when viral marketing attacks: 9 Epic Viral Fails.

4) Make the first 24 hours count

The first 24 hours are the most crucial because if nobody interacts with your video within this time then it’s likely to struggle to go viral. YouTube has a lot to do with this. It monitors how many times a video has been interacted with, whether it be likes, comments, shares or completed views during the first 24 hours. If it’s enough according its complex algorithm then the video is promoted to its YouTube chart, which dramatically increases the video’s chance of going viral, helping to push videos past the million mark almost over night.

5) Get your video in front of the right people

I use the “content is king” saying a lot (as do many marketers), but let’s not forget that distribution is most certainly “queen”. For that reason, it’s essential that your video is placed in front of key influencers. If high profile figures get behind your video, then views can suddenly skyrocket. By making sure the right people, such as influential bloggers, see your video it is far more likely to go viral.

6) Tug on the heartstrings

So, now you’ve caught the attention of the viewer, how will you keep them interested? Emotional engagement is so important to maintain the user’s interest either by making them smile, laugh, or even cry. An example created recently by Dove was Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches (see 9 amazing social media moments of 2013). This really did push emotions to the limit, driving many women (and men) to tears and striking a real chord with over 61 million views worldwide.

Remember, for the web, content development shouldn’t focus on purely written content, it should include photos and video content too.

Has there been an example of viral marketing or video blogging, good or bad, that has particularly stood out for you in 2013? We’d love to hear about it. Also, if you are considering implementing viral video campaigns, we offer viral marketing services, so feel free to get in touch if you’ve got any questions.

For more information about how our services can help maximise your digital marketing, contact me directly, or get free tips and ideas by signing up to receive this blog, direct to your inbox.

  • Gary Hibberd says:

    Some great tips Jonny… I’ve considered the idea of creating a video to promote our business on Information Security but trying to find the right balance between message and humor in a topic which many see as ‘boring’ is never going to be easy.
    I do have some ideas though and I’ll certainly look to utilise some of these tips to promote it.
    I’d be interested in hearing how people create their videos too. Professional services are obviously best but can this be done on a budget?

    • Jonny Ross says:

      Hi Gary,

      It all comes down to content I think, the professionalism of any video I think is always outweighed by the content of it!
      On the other side of the coin if the content isn’t great than a poorly recorded video does look awful!!

      As video is the way forward, I think it is worth spending some money on it!


  • Under the category of surprise comes scare the beeJesus out of your audience. This advert for Tyres not only went viral but also had significant press coverage

    It certainly captures the attention. Faint hearted should not watch 🙂

  • […] eagerly watching and sharing the content online. Businesses are now getting on board, and using viral videos and video adverts online to great […]

  • […] like Dove’s campaign for “real beauty” are examples of getting to that universal truth of consumers wanting to be known and loved. It’s […]

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