How to make a video go viral
If you ever wondered what makes the internet world go round, I’ve got the answer for you: it’s cats. “Cats are in the fabric of online”, said Will Cooke and John Burkhart from VAN speaking at Digital Shoreditch festival in May. With Cooke dressed up as “Master Meow”, and Burkhart wearing a “Hot Lol Dog” onesie, they encouraged the festival audience to vote for the funniest and most engaging video from a selection of viral films.
But what makes a film go viral – aside from the presence of cats in front of the camera? It’s all about understanding what works online and why people share content with their friends. The key concepts to consider are that successful online videos have all been conversation triggers, and were initially shared among groups of friends.
VAN has created an online interface called TubeRank, which can help content creators figure out what type of materials have the most success online. According to Cooke, some of the most popular online creative content is “funny, surprising, epic, emotional, not safe for work (NSFW), or educational”. He played the “How Animals Eat Their Food” video as an example of “LOLz”.
How does creative content reach its intended audience, and most importantly, how does it get to us, as general citizens of the internet? There are three steps to ensuring a video reaches its full potential: sharing it through personal social media media channels, sharing it with the specific group of people it was created for and finally going through paid media channels such as the Viral Ad Network who can speed up this process.
Some big companies fall into the trap of “showing up to the party way too late” when trying to create viral campaigns, said Burkhart. He said that some of the big brands who jumped on the Harlem Shake bandwagon were more like the dad in the ridiculous costume trying to play with the kids.
Newsjacking is a way of creating appealing content without being late to the party. “Don’t hijack, ride the wave”, said Burkhart. It’s important to live and breath culture, and to know what is hot at the moment and what the trends will be for the future. He introduced the crowds to SlapSlap Nick Griffin, an online game developed after the BNP party leader appeared on BBC Question Time in 2009. Griffin ended up being slapped 27 million times in less than a week.
Successful viral videos are created by people who think not only about what is interesting or funny now, but also about future trends. And when in doubt, add a kitten.