Tips for Creating a Viral Video Successfully

Tips for Creating a Viral Video Successfully

By Chris Crum – Fri, 06/04/2010 – 10:20am.

Who Knows Better Than YouTube?

Viral videos can be very powerful for brands when they are successful. The beauty of the viral video is that while large brands can certainly benefit from them, it really doesn’t matter how big your brand is.

In fact, brands typically aren’t going to be the focal point of a video that does go viral. Google’s Vannie Shu has a good post on the company’s CPG  blog about this. “People want watch videos that seem real and not staged,” says Shu. “They don’t want to watch brands that try too hard. Often, overbranding a video may decrease its authenticity to viewers. One analysis shows that users are two times less likely to engage (e.g. rate or comment) and four times less likely to share video content that is excessively branded.[i] Branded videos can make up for loss of authenticity through other characteristics. For instance, humor is the key to many viral successes. Does the video make people laugh or smile? Videos with an element of surprise are also popular. These videos shock viewers with an unforeseen twist or with something they have never seen before. These are just a few of the many elements that can make up a viral hit.”

Back in March, WebProNews spoke with Margaret Gould Stewart from YouTube’s User Experience team about getting videos to go viral. Here are some things she had to say.

“When you’re building a sustained audience, you have to continually create great content that connects with your audience,” says Stewart. “I think the secondary part is understanding your audience – understanding who you want to reach, and proactively cultivating a relationship with the people in your audience. And on YouTube that means not just creating great content and uploading it to the site, but actively building your subscriber base, so that you can be in direct and regular interaction and conversation with those people.”

“We find that video producers who are really active in the conversation, whether it’s comments or uploading ‘how this video was made’- you know, kind of the behind-the-scenes – people are really fascinated by that stuff, and we see some our most successful partners really having that, again, kind of ongoing conversation – not an arm’s length relationship to the audience, but very engaged,” she adds.

“We sometimes see content producers not investing enough time in attaching great meta data to their content, because like I said, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, and we all know that for Google, it’s important to think seriously about search engine optimization, because you can have the great content, and ideally the cream will float to the top, but there’s definitely things you can do to help yourself along, right?”

“Good clear, direct titling of your content, putting the right kinds of tags…because the fact is initially when content goes viral, people may discover it through search engines, or embed it in blogs, but then it reaches that really exciting word-of-mouth status, where I just may mention it to you person-to-person, and then what most people do is just go to and they search for it,” she continues. “So if you’re not indexed well in the search engine because you haven’t attached great meta data to your content, you’re going to miss out on that audience.”

“The other thing that is really important is enabling embedding,” notes Stewart. “It’s probably the number one most important thing, because what we see in videos that become very popular, very quickly and take on that kind of life of its own, a lot of that initial traffic in the first 48 hours happens actually off-site.”

You can see the full interview here.

Of course even if your videos don’t go truly viral, that doesn’t mean they can’t provide benefits. From purely the visibility standpoint, they can help you in search.

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