Creating a YouTube video is so easy that nearly anyone can do it. The problem is that anyone can do it poorly too. All you need is a digital camera and a way to hook it up to your computer – heck, all you need is your cellphone and an Internet connection!
Creating viral videos, that are seen by your target audience, is hard. It may look like a case of ‘overnight success,’ but as many people who slugged it out in obscurity before finding success will tell you – it always takes hard work and planning. This article is going to teach you about the hard work you’ll have to do, as well as some examples of actual viral video marketing to keep you entertained!
Planning to create a viral video
Make sure there’s a reason for your viral video to exist
No viral video ever got anywhere without a reason for existing, or without a role to fill in the greater entertainment needs of its audience. This is because the first step in any viral video is already having an audience. Before you even think of creating a viral video you need to get the rest of your YouTube marketing ideas in place, and build an audience. If your subscriber base is low, work on building your YouTube channel and getting more subscribers first.
Why? Because you can’t share your video with a few people who don’t care or know you and expect it to take off. If you already have a few thousand subscribers, who are actively involved with your brand online, you’ll have a better chance of them sharing your video and helping it go viral.
Learn who your crowd influencers are
Influencers are the people who are actually sharing your videos to a large audience. You want people with a large audience to start seeding your views to push it to viral territory. Crowd influencers are going to be important as they will spread your message rapidly to an even larger audience.
It isn’t going to be you who makes your video go viral. It’s going to be the people you know and who they share it with. You can learn more about tracking your audience here, but the basics for viral influencers are:
- Looking through your most popular content on social media and tracking those who share your content often
- Taking note of recurring users
- Tracking what they share so that you can create a viral video which better caters to those needs
- Taking the time to directly message them with your viral video to make sure they share it
Your fans are your best asset in a viral video campaign. Make sure you have plenty of them, and make sure you interact with them.
Reward influencers and followers who share your video
Offering incentives for shares is a sure way to get you closer to your viral video being a success. It doesn’t have to be individual rewards to each person who shares it. You can offer group benefits like “Use this code for 20% if the video reaches 100,000 views today!”
Or something with a longer term goal like “Help us reach 50,000 subscribers by sharing this video and we’ll show behind the scenes footage.” This also shows that the reward doesn’t have to be monetary based.
— Ollie (@OllieMarland) April 17, 2015
Find many opportunities to share your viral video
This is about connecting audiences as it’s very rare that a video will succeed on YouTube alone. You need to engage your:
- Twitter audience
- Blog readers
- Facebook Fans
- Website visitors
- Pinterest Board followers
- Online forums
And on and on across the digital landscape. Here are a few tips for the mentioned avenues in order of their presentation above:
- Multiple tweets at differing times and with differing messages. Be sure to use a hashtag (#) to get them shared in a connected manner.
- Embed the video in a blog post on the day it’s launched and encourage sharing in the text.
- Much like Twitter, feel free to write longer messages.
- Use something like the YouTube Channel Gallery to embed thumbnail images into your WordPress based website. Besides that, get your web developer to do a regular embed right on the homepage.
- Pin the video to your boards, and in a relevant group boards as well.
- If you’re already part of online forums, Facebook groups, or Twitter chats where people talk, introduce it on the day it launches.
Do you see that you have to work for a viral video? Good. Now get ready to work some more!
Create a long term goal for your viral video
Having a million views is nice for building quick brand recognition, but what does it really do for your brand in the long term? You’re going to want to include some long term goals for your video like:
- Capturing new subscribers to your YouTube channel
- Get people to go directly to your website to make purchases and build brand loyalty
- Connect your video to other videos you’ve created to keep people learning your brand story
- Having a long term video SEO optimization plan ready
No one should ever want to create a viral video just because they want one. The most successful YouTube channels with a viral video all had a plan in place for capturing long term viewers, fans, and sales. You can do this by:
- Using YouTube Annotations to direct people to subscribe
- Use your video description to include links to your website
- Have auditory and visual cues in the video directing them on what to do next
- Incorporating it into your overall video marketing strategy – like using familiar logos, intros and hosts
- Increasing watchability to really hammer home the message in the video
On the last point, increasing watchability, an example that comes to mind is Peugeot’s ‘The Legend Returns’ viral video campaign. At the end of the video they give a hint that there’s a secret in the video, and gives viewers a visual cue to watch it again to find it. It worked on me:
A viral video marketing example
Everyone has seen videos like Charlie Bit my Finger …Again! which go viral for little reason beyond the fact that they’re funny. This, of course, is not an example of viral video marketing. A business looking to market products, a service, or a brand message, you need to work harder.
Watch this video from Pepsi and how they hit so many excellent notes in the video itself:
You’ll notice that they:
- Connect to other videos they’ve made to drive engagement across their entire channel
- Use a ‘Click here to subscribe’ YouTube Annotation at around the 3:30 mark, right when the video is at its best
- Branded products are in the video, but they’re not the whole point
- They use a hashtag to connect online discussion on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest
- They used a great viral influencer, Jeff Gordon, who appeals to their mass audience
Check out Jeff promoting this video on his Twitter account to drive even more views:
— Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) March 2, 2014
That’s how it’s done! What sort of viral video success stories have you had, or what viral video marketing campaigns do you enjoy? Discuss it with me in the comments below!
About the Author:
Ernest is an online marketer and all around social media expert. His passion for video marketing is apparent, and you can learn more about getting YouTube views over on his website. If you’re curious, his favorite online video marketing strategy is the one used by Red Bull, they have crazy content on there!