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viral video

Create a Viral Video: The ultimative Recipe

Liesa Huppertz
Jan 18, 2019

Every company dreams of a successful video that is shared a thousand times over, reaching millions and drastically increasing brand or product awareness in the process. In this article, you’ll learn how to make a video that has the potential to go viral. 

If only it were that simple...

To create a video in the twinkling of an eye that spreads quickly and causes your sales to skyrocket is, of course, wishful thinking.

Every minute, 400 hours of video material is uploaded to YouTube. Standing out from the crowd requires a lot of creativity, strategy, and luck.

Example of a viral video: With the #LikeAGirl campaign, Always received over 66 million views and won some awards.

What is “going viral,” anyway?

In general, a video is called “viral” when it becomes extremely popular in a very short time without having to rely on traditional methods of advertising.

The viral video is distributed via social media, email, websites, and texts. The general public becomes the driving force behind the popularity of video.

Many videos only become viral after they have been heavily advertised using traditional methods. An ad sets the video in motion, the audience bites, and off it goes.

It's hard to quantify the number of views needed to consider a video viral.” As YouTube star Kevin Nalty says, “It's not just the clicks that count”: A relevant factor in the viral nature of a video is the degree of discussion it triggers online and offline.

Viral videos: It's about sharing.

A video becomes viral when it causes a large number of people to voluntarily share it on their social network profiles.

So the question is: What makes people share a video?

First of all, you should optimize your video so that it has the best chance of being discovered by viewers.

A successful video appeals to emotions while providing added value  whether that be useful information or simply a moment of entertainment. If both are offered, it encourages us to share.

If a brand or product is recommended to us, we automatically trust it more and are more likely to recommend it to others. In fact, the vast majority of purchasing decisions are influenced by recommendations from friends and family rather than professional advice.

This inspiring video of Dove was shared, with pleasure, on Facebook alone over 630,000 times in the first 10 days!

There is no magic formula for a viral video.

The challenge is that it's hard to predict in advance which video will become viral and which will not.

There are many videos that remain permanently hidden in the depths of the Internet even though they meet the same conditions as those that have generated millions of clicks. Others, on the other hand, don't seem to have anything special about them, and yet their reach is tremendous.

In short, a viral video cannot be produced at the touch of a button. Nevertheless, there are a few qualifications that your video should meet in order to have the chance of becoming a viral hit.

4 tips for a successful video.

#1 Elicit emotions.

In every example we present in this article, video producers trigger a variety of emotions. Many use humor, some provoke thought, and others may even make us angry.

Epipheo recommends switching between product benefits and an emotional trigger, such as an extremely funny scene, every 5-7 seconds throughout the video and repeating that pattern 5-10 times.

No matter which emotions you wish to evoke in connection to your brand: An emotional response to an ad will help the customer make a purchase decision much more than the content of the ad itself.

Very entertaining: Living together with a puppy, produced by the dog food manufacturer, Puppyhood.

#2 Let your product move into the background.

You want to underline your brand without advertising it too obviously. First and foremost, a viral video is not an image video about your own company or product, but something that will excite your audience.

A good example of this is the well-known viral video by Dollar Shave Club from 2012, which now has over 25 million views. It's informative and praises the company's highlights—but above all, it's extremely funny.

Dollar Shave Club explains in its viral video why razors shouldn’t have to cost much.

Now you might think this video focuses quite heavily on the product, don't you? Right.

But it does this without a hard sell and is primarily entertaining. Most importantly, however, the video addresses the exact problem of its target audience and explains why there is no reason to spend money on overpriced razors. An entertaining and bizarre main character (founder Michael Dubin) contributes to the viral hit. 

#3 Captivate your audience in seconds.

You only have a few seconds to attract and keep your audience's attention. Deliver short, cleverly-chosen excerpts that whet your viewer’s appetite for more.

This often includes provocations and surprises – and fewer logos, product photos, or even screenshots.

GoDaddy's Super Bowl commercial, for example, focuses on a less Hollywood-style kissing scene: IT Nerd meets supermodel. Possibly a little weird, but definitely successful: According to Mashable, GoDaddy recorded its best sales figures to date with over 10,000 new customers the day after the Super Bowl.

GoDaddy keeps the interest of its audience through an atypical kissing scene.

#4 Post-Production: Stay on the ball.

Be sure to make a conscious decision for a release date: Videos are more often watched at the beginning of the week and less on weekends or during holidays. Try to find out when your target audience is most likely to be online.

As a first step, of course, share your video on your own channels. 

Then you can hire magazines and bloggers, for example, to distribute your video. Use networking sites like Reddit or FlipBoard or contact editors of large websites that link videos like yours.

That's what viral videos have in common.

So, how do you create a viral video? Getting inspired by highly-successful examples is a good place to start. 

Therefore, we will now present some viral videos and pinpoint which factors directly contributed to their success. 

The on-demand transport company, Lyft, has captured the hearts of many with an animated short film. It tells the story of a lonely widow who becomes a Lyft driver after experiencing some difficulties on the streets of Chicago.  

Lyft tells the touching story of a driver who inspires millions.

  • Published: December 2016
  • Views: 7.7 million
  • Success factor: evokes emotions and appeals to a broad target group of Lyft users.

Many are familiar the virtual assistant, Alexa, from Amazon who answers questions, plays music, and schedules appointments in your calendar. In this particularly-creative campaign, however, Alexa has lost her voice, which is then replaced by the voice of a few celebrities, each with her own distinctive personality. 

  • Published: January 2018
  • Views: 47.9 million
  • Success factor: humorous with complex integration of famous personalities.

In the launch campaign of the new Volvo XC60, the company celebrates all the beautiful things that can happen in life – if there were no accidents. In a world where 1.3 million people die in car accidents every year, Volvo successfully evokes emotions.

In its commercial, Volvo celebrates a safe world without traffic accidents.

  • Published: June 2017
  • Views: 1.05 million
  • Success factor: Generates suspense, tells a thrilling story, and arouses strong emotions.

Political, social, and religious opinions can be critical issues, but Heineken still integrated them head-on into its "Worlds Apart" campaign. Teams of two were supposed to perform simple tasks and then discussed their opposing opinions.

In its inspiring video, Heineken shows that even extremely different people have things in common.

  • Published: April 2017
  • Views: 14.9 million
  • Success factor: Stimulates reflection and discussion and sets itself apart from well-known TV advertising in the industry.

And finally: Quality matters.

There is no reason why one video becomes viral and another does not. However, there are similarities between viral campaigns. If you want your efforts to be shared and discussed, your content must engage people beyond merely viewing – it has to make them think or even provoke them in some way.

Whichever way you choose depends on your target audience. However, you should not settle without one aspect: Quality.

While purely entertaining cat videos also achieve extremely pixelated viral success, you should not make any compromises for your company. According to the Wall Street Journal, 9 out of 10 viral YouTube videos were produced professionally as early as 2012.

We will happily advise you on possible formats for a successful video, free of charge and without obligation »  

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