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5 Key Tips for Creating Viral Videos

Updated on January 17th, 2022

Viral videos: they’re the goal for many content creators. When creating viral videos you have the chance to reach a much larger audience than just the fans and followers you already have. Plus, viral videos often lead to improved brand recognition and sentiment.

Going viral is never going to be a sure thing, but you can set yourself up for success by thinking through a few key things before, during and after video production. These five tips will help you create a great brand video that is more likely to go viral.

Tip #1: Start with the Right Target

Many content creators try to reach as many people as possible with their videos by appealing to a broad audience. Unfortunately, this strategy is destined for failure. The correlation between reach and resonance with videos is inverse; the more people you try to speak to, the less people you actually resonate with. Instead of trying to please a large, broad audience, look at viral video creation as an opportunity to specifically target your video to the audience that needs to see it most.

A highly-targeted video will appeal more specifically to the individuals it’s targeted to. For example, if you are an app developer who focuses on educational apps, you don’t care if your video goes viral to a group of people who are looking for games or scheduling apps for businesses. Instead, you should target your video straight to students: the people who are most likely to use your app. The more highly targeted your video, the more it will speak to the specific audience you have in mind.

Tip #2: Evoke Emotion

The videos that are most likely to go viral are the ones that evoke an emotion in your viewers. You can hook your audience with an emotional video that will bring them to tears, like the recent Gillette video which takes on the fraught subject of masculinity and harassment in 2019. Or, you can entertain with a funny, memorable skit that will have your viewers doubled over in laughter – like every ad video Old Spice has ever made. When you evoke emotion, you create a connection to your customers through your video, and that, in turn, is more likely to drive them to action (whether that’s a like, a share, or a purchase).

As you create your video, consider what type of emotional response you’re looking for. Once you’ve decided which emotion you’re going for, run your script by coworkers, family members and even strangers to gauge whether you’re evoking the emotion you aimed for.

Tip #3: Go for Value Over Promotion

Your video is intended as a marketing tool. At the same time, you don’t want viewers who are watching your video to feel as though they’re watching a commercial that is simply geared at convincing them to buy a product! Like the rest of your content, your video should be created to bring value to your customers in some form. You may choose to:

Entertain your customers. Whether you get them laughing or have them staring in awe as your actors accomplish incredible stunts, you may choose to focus on entertaining your customers. Create a video that they’ll be eager to share with others for that entertainment value! For example, as you can see below, the “Oracle Susana” ad run by Bud Light for the World Cup provides a great deal of entertainment for viewers with an over-the-top storyline complete with props, costumes and set design.

Provide valuable information. Do you know something that your customers don’t know? When your video shares valuable information, customers are more likely to pass it on to others whom they believe need to know that information. Solved with Science offers a great example of this in their “Do You Hear Yanny or Laurel” video, which answers a critical question for viewers–without the need for strict advertising to take place.

Offer help with a problem your customers might be having. Your customers have issues and concerns, and you can help them solve them! Maybe your product offers the perfect solution, or maybe you’re simply hoping to provide valuable advice that will improve their opinion of your company. Offering the solution to a problem can make your video incredibly valuable to your customers, increasing the odds that it will be shared.

4. Creating Viral Videos Requires Doing Something Different

Do you want people to jump to watch your video? Do you want them to be eager to share it? You need to do something different.  

You don’t want your video to look like dozens of others already making the rounds in your industry. Also, you don’t want it to be a video just like a dozen others your customers have already watched today. Sure, those videos have their place; but they also lack the critical element that will make them truly viral: something that hasn’t been done before.

If you want your video to go viral, consider a way to make it different–a way to set your marketing efforts apart from the crowd. Do something that no one has ever done before, or do it in a way that hasn’t been done in the past. Check out the iPhone X ad “Unlock.” The video simply illustrates what the new iPhone X can accomplish, but continues to heighten the drama and fun by going on to suggest that the young lady in the video could unlock just about anything. It’s a unique, interesting view of what could be, if the world were like an iPhone.

The more radical your video, the greater the odds that it will go viral. Just make sure that you keep with your brand image and the way you want to portray yourself, because at the end of the day the main point of the video is still to promote your business and product.

5. Plan Your Marketing Efforts

You’ve created great content, but even the best content won’t share itself! Before you push out your video, think through what you’d like to accomplish, and more importantly, how you’d like to accomplish it. Who are you hoping to reach with your video? How do you want to share that content with your customers?

Consider your social media platforms, your website, and other methods for sharing, such as:

  • Posting on the right social media accounts. For video, Instagram and Snapchat offer shorter video options. Facebook, on the other hand, will allow you to post longer videos.
  • Sharing links from your website.
  • Putting up links to the video on Twitter.
  • Sharing new videos in your emails.

Creating viral videos isn’t just about throwing the video together. It’s also about what you do with it after it has been created. When you take the time to plan out your marketing strategies ahead of time, you put yourself in a better position to increase the reach of your video–and increase the odds that it will go viral.

Are you struggling to produce videos that have the potential to go viral? It’s impossible to fully predict exactly what types of content will suddenly go viral, surprising you with the extent of their reach. On the other hand, some types of content are more likely to reach your audience than others–and having the right elements will increase the odds that your video will go viral. With these five tips, you will significantly increase the odds that your video will go viral.

Laura McLeod

Laura McLeod

Laura McLeod is a Senior Marketing Manager on the Video Team at 99designs. Having studied History of Art in London, she is passionate about the visual arts, design and aesthetics. This, combined with her 12 years’ experience in digital marketing where she's led successful integrated campaigns for a number of international B2B and B2C brands, drives her passion for finding creative ways to help businesses grow. When she’s not championing the 99designs brand you’ll find her practicing yoga or taking snaps around her current home city of San Francisco.

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