I recently came across an article on Mashable called 5 Best Practices for Creating Viral Branded Videos, and it made me think about viral videos – how do you make a video go viral? Is it just about creating a video, sharing with your friends, and hoping it gets shared a million times after that, or is there more to it?
My company is often tasked with trying to make videos go viral for many of our clients, and I have realized that it is not entirely left to chance. Here are some of the things you can do:
Optimize the video thumbnail. Pick the most interesting bit from the video and make this the photo on the thumbnail.
Post it to as many sites as you can. Don’t just post it to YouTube, also look at Metacafe, Vimeo, Dailymotion etc.
Blog about your video. Write about the video on your blog, share anecdotes about the making, cast etc. It would be even better if you could convince other bloggers to write about it.
Get friends to like and rate the video, and share it. This is the first place to start by getting friends and family liking and sharing the video.
Digg your video. Make sure to use a proper category and description.
StumbleUpon your video. Make sure to use a proper category and description.
Piggyback on other viral videos. Find other popular and related video and leave comments about your video (don’t be spammy about this, though). YouTube allows you to leave a “video response” to other videos, and if you do that to a highly visible video you’ll get a decent percentage seeing yours.
Tag properly. You don’t want to waste tag space on common words that are highly competitive (like “funny” or “hilarious”). Be as specific as possible. The search engines are quite kind to online-video site keywords.
Post to relevant forums. Start new threads and embed your videos in relevant forums. Be clear on who you are and start a relevant conversation, or join one.
Share on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Share, share, share. Be part of relevant groups on Facebook and share the video with the entire friends list – this can have a real impact. Other ideas include creating an event that announces the video launch and inviting friends, writing a note and tagging friends, or posting the video on Facebook Video with a link back to the original YouTube video.
Do not forget MySpace. Plenty of users allow you to embed YouTube videos right in the comments section of their MySpace pages. Take advantage of this, but again, don’t be spammy.
Use your email lists. Send the video to an email list – making sure everyone on this list knows who you are and are happy to receive mails from you. Depending on the size of the list (and the recipients’ willingness to receive links to YouTube videos), this can be a very effective strategy.
Remember on YouTube, each video has a shelf life of 48 hours before it’s moved from the Daily Most Viewed list to the Weekly Most Viewed list, so it’s important that all of the above happens quickly.
Lastly, do not be spammy.
NOW you hope that your video goes viral.
Here is a result of what I am saying. I used to work for a company called The Go Game in San Francisco – as a marketing gimmick we created a spoof video of a popular Lady Gaga song, which, until the time of writing, has garnered more than 3 million views (3,013,754 to be exact). Of course having a spoof of a very popular song, and a great spoof at that, helped a lot (with Lady Gaga herself commenting on the video). Take a look…
Self gloating now: this video has been so successful that it has earned yours truly a listing on IMDB. Check out Kaustav Basu, the actor. (And no, I did not post that entry on IMDB)
Hope the steps I mentioned above will help you in your quest for viral video glory. Let me know if you have any comments, questions, clarifications, disagreements.
BONUS: if you can figure out how many times I appear in the video, post it as a comment.