No-one starts out in video marketing wanting to create a video that gets an average amount of views...
We all want to achieve the fame of "Charlie bit my finger" or "Leave Britney alone", but when it comes to marketing a product, it's not that simple.
As marketers, we're already starting on the back foot because there's a certain amount of stigma that comes along with an advert.
People won't choose to watch a commercial, unless of course it's a big event like the Christmas ads, or the Superbowl. That's probably the only time that people will get excited, and actually choose to sit down to watch an ad.
So why do some marketing videos get loads of views, while others struggle to get anywhere close?
What is it that really makes a video go viral?
Let's look at some examples to see what they have in common...
1. They aren't overly promotional
First things first, if you want to create a viral video then you need to leave your ego at the door. And by ego, I mean your product or service.
Viral videos don't talk features, benefits, or pricing; they tell a story. If you're trying to create a video that's going to go viral then the focus should be on raising brand awareness, rather than trying to jump right to the sale.
This video from Reebok is a great example of an advert that isn't promotional. It calculates the average number of days that humans typically live to, and encourages the viewer to do more with the days that they are alive. It doesn't really promote Reebok as such, but rather inspires people to become more motivated within their lives.
2. They tell a story
Have you ever noticed that the most popular ads are more like mini movies, rather than commercials? That's because (according to this blog from Buffer) our sensory cortex lights up when a story is being told.
Storytelling is one of the best ways to engage people with your brand, because it helps them relate to your message and will keep them coming back for more.
Check out this commercial below from Google titled: Homeward Bound. It tells the story of an orphan who used Google Maps to go back to his routes and find his birth mother. It's a great advert that combines Google's platform, and a powerful story together.
3. They connect with emotions
This follows on from the last point - your 'story' has to evoke some sort of emotion from your viewers.
Whether its happy, sad, inspirational, or motivating, emotions hold the key to getting people to sit and watch your 'story' all the way through. That's because people like to become emotionally invested in a story, if they can relate to it, it'll leave a lasting imprint on their memories.
Take this viral video "Like a girl" from Always. It focuses on the belief that to do something "like a girl" is a bad thing. This video sets out to change that stereotype, and inspire young girls to feel empowered.
So think about what emotions you want your brand to portray. How do you want people to feel when they think of your brand? Take your viewers on an emotional journey, and they'll be more inclined to hit that share button.
4. They do the unexpected
Some videos use shock tactics, others try for the light hearted approach, but that's what makes them so great - the fact that they do something a little different from the norm.
Often brands are a little hesitant to color outside the lines, but If you want to create a viral video, then you're going to have to jump down off the fence and rock the boat a little.
A viral video is inevitability going to be talked about, and you're not always going to receive positive reviews - but that's okay. The whole point to a viral video is to get people talking - the more people talk about you, the more your brand becomes noticeable.
For example, this "Girls don't poop" video certainly steps outside the box a little bit. It's one of those taboo subjects that most women would feel uncomfortable talking about, yet it brings light to the situation, in an unusual way.
5. They have a killer promotion strategy
Now here comes the tricky part, if you want your video to take off, then you're going to have to work extremely hard on your promotion strategy.
So where do you start?
First, make sure it's fully optimized so that it works for SEO. Upload your video to your landing/blog page, and make sure that you use the keywords of the video within your URL, meta description, and throughout the post.
Once you have a landing page, you can start to share it across your social pages and gain traction that way. Use hashtags, post at the most advantageous time, pay for pre-roll ads on YouTube, and get people excited about your video launch.
Next, I'd recommend seeking the help of influencers who can really push your video forward to a larger audience. Contact media/publishing sites, social media influencers/bloggers, and post it in forums so that you can get a large audience on board.
So how can you guarantee that your video will go viral?
If there was a formula for creating a viral video, then we'd all be doing it. Unfortunately, viral videos tend to be the exception, rather than the rule.
But does that mean you should give up on video marketing? Absolutely not.
As marketers, we shouldn't be putting all of our efforts into trying to go viral. Sure, it looks great on paper, it gets loads of shares, comments, likes, publicity... but is it really attracting your audience?
Because that's where your focus should be.
Your audience may not be in the millions, but when it comes to your business, they are the only people who you need to get on board. That's not to say that you can't create a video that covers all of the above points, nor does it mean you can't create a video that focuses on raising brand awareness:
But it's important to remember that the people you need to win over are the people who will actually buy your product or service.
Forget about what everyone is trying to do to go viral, and make a mark on your audience.