How to make a video go viral

The content comes first, so make sure it sizzles—or tickles the funny bone. Be sure, too, not to burden the video (and the viewer) with a lot of marketing junk. It’s about brand awareness, not making a sale.

The best thing about online video is that it gets attention, builds awareness and interest, and drives action.

Action is the part we’re after. Action means people buy your stuff.

Strip away the glitz, glamour, and varying definitions of “going viral,” and the whole point of an online video is to reach more potential buyers through sharing.

Here are some ways that you can get your video shared over and over again:

1. Make your video funny, thrilling, or shocking.

Videos that go viral all have one thing in common: People are thrilled by them and get the urge to show them to other people.

Many of these videos are real-life events that are caught on video; others are obviously produced for brand products and services. As long they’re good, viewers don’t mind either way. When you’re producing a video with the intent of its going viral, you have to tap into those feelings of excitement and amazement and, if possible, make it funny.

There’s hardly a brand out there that can’t do with a little humor, and, in the right hands, pretty much anything can be funny.

2. Have a strong social media sharing strategy.

Videos go viral because they’re easy to share. You’ve made a great video; paid for initial support; and tapped some awesome bloggers, writers, and influencers to help push it along. You didn’t, however, develop an integrated sharing strategy that involves your social media channels and current fans of your brand.

For example, when that awesome influencer blasted your video to his million Twitter followers, did you capitalize on it? Did you share it everywhere and encourage your fan base to do the same? How about the videos your fans are starting to create based on your video? Do you have systems in place to promote their content?

Viewers will see those videos and want to make their own, but first they’ll want to watch and share the original.

3. Lay off the marketing information.

You started with a funny and crazy idea, but got worried that there wasn’t enough “message” or “call to action,” so you kept adding in more marketing. You wondered why the video got less and less entertaining.

Congratulations. You made an infomercial. At the very best, you made an ad.

Most people hate ads—unless it’s Super Bowl season—so don’t count on people sharing your video if it’s overtly promotional. One primary purpose of a viral video is to build awareness of and/or interest in something. Leave the messaging and selling part of it for the areas that surround the video, and let the video do its job of going viral.

4. Pay for media support.

People can’t share videos they can’t find. You know those brand videos you see in the top viral charts? Most of those initial views were paid for. It’s done all the time. It’s just like paying for TV commercial audiences, radio airtime, or billboards.

Paid media support can come in the form of video seeding; paid ads; promoted content on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube; or paid placements with blogs, publications, and paid influencers.

5. Do a lot of outreach.

This is called the earned media approach. It consists of pitching bloggers, writers, and influencers and making them understand why they should share your video with their readers and viewers. This tactic is very effective-provided you’ve satisfied point No. 1.

A version of this article originally appeared on

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