It’s often said that your video going viral is just a matter of luck, but… is it actually true?
To begin with, it’s important to underline that the meaning of “Viral” has recently changed, due
to proliferation of Social Media. It stands to reason that a few years ago, a video would have
been considered viral just hitting one million YouTube views. In today’s world, that’s not enough
Kevin Nalty, known as Nalts, wrote in 2011 that a video is “viral” if it gets more than 5 Million
views in a 3-7 day period. In recent times, the aspects that make a video “Viral” have changed once again.
We cannot currently talk about a video gone “Viral” without analysing a few aspects:
1. How long did it take to hit (at least) 10 Million views?
If it took a year to get that amount of views, then it’s not viral. It still is a good video with great
reach, but nowadays it can’t be considered “viral”.
2. How many views does the channel usually hit?
I love Casey Neistat’s Channel, he actually is a phenomenal video-maker and an incredible storyteller. His channel counts more than 6 Million followers. It goes without saying that when his videos reach a few Millions of views, it can’t be considered “Viral”.
3. Has it started any sort of movement, discussion or trend?
Can you remember the Harlem Shake? What about the Mannequin Challenge?
We’ll be back to answer these questions very soon.
Although a universally accepted definition of the term “viral” does not exist, in this article I will
talk about the common features of those most-clicked videos. My customers already know that
I usually prefer segmenting my audience into subgroups and producing content for a
Yet, it’s clear that having a huge amount of followers may make you
popular, and becoming popular may give you a great amount of opportunities to monetise or
optimise your efforts.
So, a video gone viral could represent what you’re looking for to gain more views and followers
on your channel. Here we go!
Emotion: the first feature I want to examine is probably the most obvious, but a video can raise tons of emotional reactions. It’s a good habit to work on transmitting the right feelings, if you
want your video to go viral.
I recently read a book entitled “Contagious: Why Things Catch On”: the writer, Jonah Berger,
claims that content can stimulate a range of emotions, which have been gathered together in
the following chart.
Focus your attention only on High Arousal emotions.
I would like you to watch the following videos and analyse them with me, in order to better
grasp the concept.
In 2015, this video-ad got a haul of trophies, and it’s not hard to guess why. Regarding our
chart, what kind of emotions have you found in this video?
I think that “excitement” is the most significant one. This video provides girls watching it with an
incredible energy. For the same reason, I would add “awe” as well.
Now onto the second video.
Yosemitebear Mountain Double Rainbow 1-8-10
Amusement? A low quality video which hit almost 44 Million views.
It’s incredible, considering it
started from a tweet that stated it was the “funniest video in the world”. In the end, it even got
prestigious re-tweets from the likes of Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Simmons.
This is a very sad short documentary film, which combines “anger” and “anxiety”. It’s produced
by Invisible Children, Inc., and has received over 101 Million views on Youtube.
StoryTelling: if you want your video to go viral, then tell a story. It’s how this girl hit more than 6
Everyone can relate to a story, and this is the reason why we should consider to produce video
content for our business. Identifying yourself with the main character may mean feeling his
Furthermore, storytelling is more concise than a sales pitch. Being able to take advantage of
that would definitely help you out in advertising your new product or service.
People like time windows displaying how something changed or what someone learnt in a given
Viral Title: Make it shorter. Make it as short as possible.
The shorter, the better.
I tend to prefer writing a shareable title over a search engine optimised one. The reason is easy:
your aim is to obtain sharings.
You will get much more visibility from a sharing than from being among the first results of a
search engine. Why?
Because by nature people search their “rockstars” directly on YouTube’s search bar
(although that rarely happens, they get redirected from web pages and Social Media most of
As you can see in the photo above (read the whole article), only 0.1% of the total views have been made by people looking on Google search.
So, focus your efforts on making your title short and shareable.
Involvement: people do not just enjoy something, they want to take part in it.
Remember these words while you will be recording or editing your next “viral video”, this is
crucial for your success. Nowadays people want to participate, everyone likes the feeling of
being part of a group or movement. Also, they like to show their which side they’re on to their
Getting back to the business side, it’s needless to explain in how many ways you can monetise
content by creating a new trend or being significantly followed on YouTube.
As I said before, I do love Casey Neistat’s channel. Here you can briefly watch its potential in
terms of monetising:
Nothing more to add.
In my humble opinion, the last example is stunning.
Apart from the marketing side, it has probably saved a life. It’s incredible how a common
person got a huge amount of money in only 24 hours from people which he has never met.
To recap, if you want to get your 15 minutes of fame, just follow the above written steps. Focus
on the right emotion, tell an engaging story, make your title as short and compelling as
possible, and involve your video’s watchers.
If we want to look beyond the horizon, we could speak about politics.
We all know that Donald Trump dominated the last presidential campaign. As marketers, we all
also know how social media influenced the final outcome and which techniques he utilised to
step into the limelight.
Donald was already popular when he decided to get into politics, but what would happen if
PewDiePie wanted to become President?
It’s unlikely that will happen, as he’s not into politics: he probably wouldn’t be credible enough.
Yet consider for a moment his channel’s reach.
It’s reached over 52 Million subscribers and hit over 14 Billion views, and is still growing. A
similar audience may bring you wherever you want, if you know how to take advantage of it.
He has already raised Millions of dollars for charities.
If today he started producing political content, he would get quite some credibility at some
point. Also because in the future, teenagers will be going to the polls.
They will likely have grown with PewDiePie’s channel, so can you imagine how he influential he
would be for them?