28th February 2012

So Cool, It’s Contagious: How to Make Your Online Video Go Viral

In the world of social media, going viral is the dream. But unfortunately, explosive popularity is totally unpredictable. We are fickle folk, and we usually don’t even know what we like until it’s thrown at us in auto tune. To survive, web video producers must think like a virus and constantly mutate.


It’s hard to plan a viral video in advance. A contagious video must be quick, snappy, and above all, produce an intense desire in the viewer to share it with others. Companies that offer web video services often struggle to find a way to push out their content videos, as it’s anyone’s guess which videos go viral.

If you want to attempt this feat, remember that successful viral videos are usually one of three things: Infectiously funny, sickeningly cool, or heartwarmingly sweet. They must instantly hook the viewer and grip them until the end. Babies and animals tend to be winners. Just imagine the appeal of animal vs. baby: THE SHOWDOWN. Epic.

In general, a video that sparks a strong response will get passed on. Are there any scientists out there? You all can think about it this way: Some parasites can infect the host’s brain and rewire it, changing its behavior and turning the host into a parasite-serving zombie. An explainer video does something similar. Scary, right? But it’s actually not. These videos simply make a connection in the viewer’s mind between the service and deep emotions:

So instead of creating zombies, an explainer video that goes viral creates an army of referrers who spread the news about the product. These folks could kick zombie butts any day…in case it comes to that.

A viral web video for business relies on clever storytelling. Even if the message the client wants to send is not very interesting, the video must grab the viewer’s attention and hold it. Showcasing a cool new technique like stop motion animation or whiteboarding (link to whiteboarding blog) helps the message stick and spread. And combining the elements in unexpected ways helps to entertain.

Making a viral video is always a toss-up. But, combining the right elements can give any business a big leg up. Remember that viral videos can come from the most unexpected places and be prepared to act quickly and think creatively if circumstances are right. If you’re lucky it might even lead to an epidemic.

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About the Author

Anish hails from London and holds a degree in software engineering from the University of Manchester. Following his education, he worked for several years in the financial industry as a platform administrator before founding Revolution Productions in 2008. In addition to over seven years of video production, Anish is seen as an industry professional, adding his insight in publications such as VentureBeat, ReelSEO and Wistia.

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