4 essentials of viral videos

Creating a video that rampages across the Internet like a wildfire is no easy feat. These key elements will start you off on the right foot.

When it comes to producing viral videos for big brands, Stephen Voltz is as experienced as they come.

If you’ve ever seen the YouTube video demonstrating what happens when you combine Diet Coke and Mentos, you can thank Voltz and his team. His viral videos for big brands have been viewed more 150 million times.

Voltz took the stage at a recent industry conference to share the four key elements found in almost every viral video:

1. Be real.

According to Voltz, no one likes a video that the creators try to pass off as real when it is clearly staged. For people to share your content, they have to feel that it was authentic.

Voltz gave the example of a video in which a guy proposes to his girlfriend at Disney World. The video is shot from multiple angles and is obviously choreographed.

That, Voltz says, is what you should not do if you want your video to go viral.

Instead, consider this example of a dance number from a wedding. It was shot from just one camera angle.

To Voltz, it’s clear this was not a faked stunt-it really happened at someone’s wedding.

2. Don’t waste viewers’ time

“Viral video is the 21st-century side show,” says Voltz. “Contrary to everything you are taught as marketers, don’t tell the story. If you have a woman who can swallow a sword and live, don’t start the video by telling me about her, start it off by showing me right away.”

Voltz says it’s important to get to the point of your video fast-“nothing but the money shots.”

3. Be unforgettable

“It’s all about the hook,” Voltz says.

Do something that no one expects or has done before. One example he gave was BlendTec’s iPhone in a blender video; people simply didn’t expect to see it.

4. Target emotions

It’s rare that a video will go viral if people are simply content after viewing it, Voltz says. People also don’t like to share videos that make them feel sad.

However, if you get people angry and afraid (think Kony 2012) or happy and amazed, people will share your content and help your video go viral.

“Content carries itself if it has an emotional connection,” Voltz says.

With 94 percent of viewers skipping online advertisements, it’s important to follow these four rules to grab people’s attention and help your content go viral.

Shirien Elamawy is Cision’s social media manager living in the D.C. area. A version of this article originally appeared on the Cision blog.

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