Best of The Web: Why Videos Go Viral

I love this video. We all have some notion of what makes a viral video, but hearing it articulated is fascinating. Still, I initially had trouble figuring out how I could apply this to business. After some thought, I realized it really boils down to one thing: knowing your audience. Here are some tips for applying these teachings to your average corporate video.

Tastemakers

Kevin makes the observation that viral videos often sit in obscurity until they are shared by a tastemaker, or someone with a large audience. Then, they become exponentially more popular. This is fairly intuitive. While the man behind “Double Rainbow” might have had an initial audience of a few dozen, Jimmy Kimmel had several million. Waiting for a celebrity to take an interest in your company’s content is implausible, but reaching out to others in your network to help share your video isn’t. Who might be willing to distribute your video? What tastemakers and influencers would be interested in your story?

Participation

Getting someone to creatively participate (like making parodies), let alone watch and share a video is difficult, and, for most situations, shouldn’t be a goal or expectation for the average video. Instead, the insight here is understanding why people engage with content. People love interacting with content that appeals to their identity, be it goofy, serious, or simply relatable. Does your video directly appeal to your audience’s sensibility? This needn’t be a general appeal to a broad audience. In-jokes for software engineers or CEOs could be perfect—if software engineers or CEOs are your audience.

Unexpectedness

Video is everywhere. Unless you are making something extremely out of the box, shocking, or never seen before, it’s unrealistic to expect a large amount of views simply because of the volume of content already available. In order to stand out, you need to be bold and creative in your visuals, story, and information. The world of video is too noisy for bland, overly safe content to spread. While we understand that brand consistency and conservative messaging is important, the clients we’ve seen be most successful have been the ones who were willing to take risks.

While these insights should help you distribute your video, they are by no means a methodized pathway to virality. Instead, the takeaway is to consider why people enjoy video. Then keep that in mind as you’re making your own.

Written by Joe Lee, Content Marketing Specialist