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The Secret to Going Viral: My Wedding Proposal Edition
Posted on May 9th 2014
For those of you who know me, you know the story behind my social media agency, Boogie—it started in my dorm room in college and eventually, I moved into an office space and hired a team and now here we are…
But, one thing you might not know is that I had some help; her name is Dahcia (our VP of strategy). I met Dahcia at UAlbany and we became friends immediately. Realizing that Dahcia was an English major and while in the process of properly branding Boogie (formerly Boogie Graphics), I decided to ask Dahcia to help me write copy for my website and for a few clients… this was back in '09. Five years later, she’s now my business partner and my partner in life.
So, I decided that it was time for me to take the next step. I was going to propose to Dahcia on Valentine's Day 2014.
Of course, being that I run a creative agency, the pressure was HIGH. My mind was racing-- “what am I going to do,” “what if she says no?”
But I didn't sweat it. I execute creative, funny, catchy campaigns on a daily basis so this shouldn’t be any different. Then, it hit me-- "I’ll propose to her using a digital / social media campaign."
With only one week to do it, I got straight to work. I created a website, I reached out to some of my press contacts, I called my… never mind, just watch the video!
I then posted the video to YouTube and shared it with my family and friends. Within 12 hours of uploading it, my channel had garnered over 10K views. A few days later, I learned that my video had been picked up by Huffington Post, Inc. Magazine, and various other publications and it garnered over 37K views!
This brings us back to the initial question, how do things go viral?
All brands and products are different and they should be treated as such. And of course there's more than one way for things to go viral but what’s more important is that you understand the thinking process for creating and delivering viral content.
While creating my wedding proposal video, here are a few things I kept in mind that helped our story go viral.
1: Tell an emotional story
People love stories. But you know what else people love more than stories? Love Stories. Whether you’re in love, are looking for love, or just love love, then this is the kind of story that you can relate to. A lot of people were able to relate to me and Dahcia’s story and that’s one of the reasons why it touched them emotionally.
2: Add a little humor
We’ve seen this a lot on TV commercials; especially in the Superbowl. Users love sharing funny stories and videos-- it's a goldmine in terms of social currency. In my very serious and emotional video, you probably weren’t expecting me to breakout in song to Jagged Edge - Let's Get Married. And you really weren't expecting the reaction that I got from Dahcia once I started singing. Taking the viewer from awe to funny to awe again takes them on an emotional roller coaster that leaves them feeling good at the end. This definitely increases share-ability.
3: Build for multiple audiences
I made a conscious decision to create a video that would appeal to many audiences. By creating a modern, responsive, website, I was able to appeal to designers and blogs that appreciate everything web related. The story had a lot do with how boogie started, so it stood out to entrepreneurs and publications that talk about entrepreneurship and startups (ex. Inc Magazine). At it’s core, this was a wedding proposal and that appealed multiple people. I consciously decided to use an old song and a new song, which would appeal to music lovers. In addition, those songs also serve another purpose called Trigger. Do me a favor, the next time you hear John Legend ‘All of Me’ or James Blunt ‘You’re Beautiful,' tell me what video comes to mind!
4. Have a purpose
I’ve seen companies make this mistake over and over again. They spend time executing the most creative campaigns but they forget to do one very important thing… make it relate back to their business. Having a purpose for your viral content allows you to better strategically insert your message into the video without seeming too obvious. I created the video with only one purpose, to show my friends and family who missed the proposal how it happened. Along the way, I had a realization… people were going to share this. Not only that, people would probably Google me and Dahcia which would inevitably lead them to Boogie. So I made it easy for them by highlighting Boogie and introducing myself at the beginning of the video. Although this wasn’t my initial intent, it all fell into place and I was able to
generate website traffic get our story out there.
5. Share as if your life depends on it
Last but not least… Share now, share more and share again! A lot of this viral stuff doesn’t get started on its own- it needs some fuel so if it’s not popping up in as many places as possible, it eventually dies down. In addition to all of your social networks, you can also share your content with other bloggers, news publications, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and more. Share your content and encourage everyone who knows about it to share it as well. Although a lot of the viral videos you watch on the web go viral by accident, but a lot of them are actually planned "accidents"... staged by social media and viral agencies.
Now tell me, what are some of your favorite viral videos in 2014 so far? Let me know in a comment below.