While video is a valuable thing in almost any content marketing strategy, there’s a specific type of video that most businesses crave. Viral marketing videos deliver content that could transform your brand from a relatively unknown company into a household name, practically overnight.
Videos are naturally engaging, emotional and highly shareable – which makes them ideal for anyone hoping to make contagious content. What’s more, now that 80% of web traffic is projected to be video-based by the end of next year, more customers are seeking out video than ever before.
The question is, how do you turn a standard video into something with viral potential?
Is there a specific formula you need to follow to ace viral promotion, or is virality something that has to happen naturally?
Today, we’re going to get to the bottom of viral video marketing, and what you’ll need to do to infect your audience.
What is viral advertising, and why is video so valuable?
Video is one of the most engaging forms of digital marketing.
According to the 2018 Social Media Marketing report, video is the second most popular form of social content online. For most of you, that news won’t be a big surprise. After all, the visual and audio elements of video mean it’s more likely to capture audience attention than content that only interacts with one sense.
However, while most people enjoy video, not all videos go viral.
Without a viral marketing company, a strategy and some genuinely sensational content, the chances are that most of your videos just won’t hit the viral status.
To understand why, you need to know the answer to one simple question, “What is viral advertising?”
Viral marketing is the act of creating content that spurs organic sharing in your audience. Viral videos spread across digital and offline channels like a virus, capturing the attention of endless potential customers. Importantly, while the definition of viral video marketing can vary, one key component is that your video must rely on word-of-mouth marketing for promotion. In other words, viral videos are unique because your customers do the advertising for you.
There are a few other things that help to set viral video campaigns apart from the crowd. For instance, some experts agree that the video needs to earn more than 5 million views within a three-week period. Others suggest that 10 million views is a better goal. Either way, one thing is sure – businesses everywhere are continually striving to find the secret formula for viral marketing growth.
After all, viral video marketing is cheaper, and potentially more effective than any other promotional strategy.
Common components of successful viral marketing videos
Ever since the term ‘viral’ first emerged in the digital marketing world, brands from all backgrounds have been trying to figure out what it takes to create the best viral marketing campaigns.
Viral marketing videos offer a fantastic opportunity to spread your message quickly across the globe, without spending too much of your marketing budget. Unfortunately, there’s no golden formula for what makes videos go viral. There’s plenty of content out there that has all the elements required for virality, but it never achieves the fame and fortune it deserves.
While we might not have a recipe for successful viral marketing to give you, we can learn from some of the most compelling campaigns of the past. For instance, many of the biggest viral video campaigns include:
- Humour: Most viral videos are funny, whether they intend to be or not. For example, there are plenty of videos out there that achieved virality because of an embarrassing act, like the child who posted a video online of him pretending to be a Jedi. There are also a lot of videos out there that were designed to appeal to a specific type of humour. We recommend aiming for the second option.
- Topicality: Keeping your content “current” is crucial with viral promotion. It’s much easier to get everyone talking about your videos if they cover a topic that people are already interested in. When you’re creating your viral marketing videos, take some time to check out the trending topics in among your target audience.
- Provocation: Typically, viral video marketing works well because it makes your audience think and feel something. Some content is deliberately shocking, designed to compel people to share because they can’t believe what they’ve just seen. Other viral marketing videos focus on trying to make audiences think about something differently or learn something new. After all, 65% of people are visual learners.
How to use video for viral promotion
Now you know the basics around viral video marketing, we can begin to get to the ‘good stuff’. As we mentioned above, just because there are no concrete guidelines for how to create the best viral marketing campaigns, doesn’t mean that there aren’t tips you can use to increase your chances of virality.
Often, the best way to get started with viral video marketing is to focus on creating high-quality, compelling videos. If you concentrate on designing a memorable video, then you instantly improve your chances of people wanting to share that content. Here are our top tips for success.
Step 1: Set a goal with your audience in mind
Around 80% of consumers remember the videos that they view online. That means that if you’re aiming to achieve brand awareness with your campaigns, viral video marketing is a good choice. However, you do need to make sure that your audience remembers you for all of the right reasons.
Grab your user personas and keep them with you when you’re working on your viral video campaigns. Your target audience will help you to decide how long your videos should be, which channels you need to promote on, and more. For instance, the Interactive Advertising Bureau suggests that millennials prefer videos no longer than 10 seconds.
With your audience in mind, decide what you want your viral video to accomplish, beyond earning you brand recognition. For instance, do you want to entertain, inform, or educate your followers? This decision will help you with the next step.
Step 2: Choose the right style of viral video marketing
As video emerges as an increasingly popular form of content marketing, there are more options to experiment with than ever before. For instance, many social media channels now offer live video options where businesses can share authentic content with their customers in real-time. However, if you want your video to be more visually attractive, then you might opt for an animated clip instead.
The formatting you choose for your viral marketing videos will depend on the kind of brand image you’ve built so far. Think about what your audience expects from you, and what they’ve responded well to from other companies. Your videos should convey your unique tone of voice.
Step 3: Optimise for your platform
Just as there are different video formats available for companies to choose from today, there are also different platforms you can use to promote your content. Ultimately, your video needs to look great regardless of where it turns up. After all, just because you share something on Instagram doesn’t mean it won’t eventually end up in an email message.
However, it’s worth thinking about where you want your initial audience to see your video. For instance, because Twitter has the fastest scrolling rate, you’ll need to keep your content visually engaging from the first second. On the other hand, since 60% of YouTube videos are viewed on mobile devices, your YouTube content should be simple enough to send a message on any screen.
Step 4: Determine the right length
Just because today’s customers love video, doesn’t mean that they want to spend forever watching clips on their Facebook accounts and in their email inboxes. Average engagement, even for viral marketing videos, decreases the longer your content gets.
According to a study from analytics company ‘Wistia’, engagement is highest with videos between 1 and 2 minutes long. However, your chosen audience will often dictate whether your videos should be longer or shorter than average.
The length of your videos will also depend on how much of a story you want to tell your audience. Some brands will only need to share a small amount of information to make an impact, while others will need a little more time.
Step 5: Make an emotional connection
Though there are endless different kinds of viral video online, the best viral marketing campaigns generally work because they make an emotional connection with their audience. The good news is that video content is more likely to elicit an emotional response because it speaks to several senses at once.
Remember, while most viral marketing focuses on leveraging positive emotions, you can also have just as much of a significant impact using negative emotions like fear, anger or disgust. Just be careful that you don’t go so controversial with your content that it ends up being removed from your preferred promotional channel.
Viral video campaigns: Tips for contagious content
Though a handful of great viral marketing videos have occurred entirely by accident, most viral promotion is a process of careful planning and strategy.
No matter whether you’re actively trying to make your content ‘go viral’ or not, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to distribute your video, who’s going to share it, and how you’re going to earn audience engagement. To begin with, follow these essential tips:
1. Go for quality
In the past, viral video marketing used to be defined by its low-budget appearance. Many of the best content was highly ‘raw’ in its presentation, which made it seem more authentic to the target audience. While some successful viral marketing campaigns still use this strategy, many viewers are beginning to pay more attention to crisp, well-produced content too. Think about taking the time to edit your content, even if you’re shooting it with your smartphone.
Speaking of quality content, make sure that you get the music and sound in the piece right too. Your viral marketing videos need to sound as good as they look. That could mean using audio branding ideas in your campaigns or choosing the right music to elicit emotional responses.
2. Know what compels people to share
We mentioned above that understanding your audience is crucial for viral marketing growth. However, it’s important to make sure that you know not only what kind of content your customers enjoy, but what convinces them to share that content too. People respond to viral videos differently. According to BuzzSumo, the most shared videos invoke amusement, laughter, or awe. They also found that people were more likely to share content that made them look good.
Alternatively, another study by Marketo found that people shared content to deliver value to their friends, offer advice, warn people of potential dangers and amuse their loved ones. The more you run and test your viral video campaigns, the more you’ll learn about your audience’s sharing preferences.
3. Don’t overlook influencer marketing
The best viral marketing campaigns don’t achieve success because you push a lot of money into your advertising strategies. Viral campaigns achieve their viral status naturally because they offer content that your customers and followers can’t help but share. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t give your content a boost from time-to-time.
Influence is one of the most valuable things a company can have these days. Unfortunately, if you haven’t been in the market for long, you may not have much influence with your target market yet. This means that you’ll need to build off the impact of another company or person. Influencers can give your marketing strategy a powerful launching pad, just remember that your content needs to be relevant to the influencer you’re hoping to target.
For instance, it doesn’t make sense asking a millennial video-game influencer to promote your content if your target audience is over-40 investors.
4. Put building your brand first
Remember not to get obsessed with the idea of viral video marketing. While having viral content on your website can be a great way to elevate and grow your company, you can lose sight of the big picture if you spend too much time trying to go viral.
Keep your focus on consistency and building a brand that your customers want to be associated with. The more you build relationships and affinity with your target audience through multiple digital touchpoints, the more you’ll learn about what they like and dislike. Understanding your followers, and the market they exist in gives you a foundation for building stronger, more emotional content. Concentrate on delivering real value in your videos, and the rest should follow.