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What Makes a Video Viral?

You know that video can be one of the most effective tools for creating visibility and finding customers for your business. A well-made, informative video is likely to get more attention than a web page filled with text, no matter how well the text is written. In an ideal marketing world, every video your company posts online would become a viral video, with thousands of viewers sharing your link with their friends, who share your link with their friends in a chain of sharing that results in millions of views of your video and thousands of new customers beating a path to your door.

Of course, it doesn’t work that way with every video in the real world. Some videos languish unseen on YouTube and never get a mention on Facebook, while others attract a decent number of views and generate a good return on your investment. But, what makes a video “go viral” and receive hundreds of thousands of views and “likes” from all over the Internet?

It is not possible to predict with any certainty whether any given video will become an Internet sensation, but a viral video will often share common traits with other viral videos. Here are some things to keep in mind as you try to create a viral video for your business:

  • Set the hook quickly. Internet surfers are busy and easily distracted. If your video does not catch a viewer’s interest within the first few seconds, he or she is likely to click away before getting your message. Find a way to make your viewers want to know what happens next.
  • Shorter is better. Internet users are more likely to watch a short video than a long video. If you can keep your video shorter than two minutes and still get your point across, you will get a lot more viewers to watch to the end.
  • Entertain instead of lecturing. If you can provide viewers with a good laugh or a heart-warming story in a short video, they will be more likely to share your link with friends. You can include links to more serious content in your video or video description so users can dig deeper into the products or information you offer if they want to.
  • Associate your brand with a consistent style. Find an effective actor or animated character to carry your message and use him, her or it in all of your videos so your viewers become accustomed to your brand and associate it with good entertainment or useful information. If your first viral video features a hilarious skit with Snarfus the Wonder-Dog, then every time potential viewers see a new video starring Snarfus, they will be eager to watch it and share it with friends.
  • Ask for user input. Create a contest offering valuable prizes to customers who submit short videos featuring your company or products. This is a good way to generate social buzz as well as to get content created at a very low cost to you.
  • Get cats and cute babies on your side, but don’t rule out featuring bad guys. Use the “awww . . .” factor when you are trying to create a viral video, but don’t discount the appeal of political spoofs or the shock value of hot-button current events topics.

Keep in mind that most videos will never go viral. If you pay attention to production quality and concentrate on giving your viewers good entertainment combined with good information, your video campaign can be successful without generating a single monster Internet sensation. If you do produce a blockbuster viral video, enjoy the ride!

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