Everyone who makes and posts a video to YouTube has aspirations of going viral, but the reality is most YouTube accounts fall far short of fame.
How do the best videos go viral? Is there any rhyme or reason to what makes a video become a talked-about trend, or is it all up to luck? With everything from a keyboard cat to Charlie biting a finger, there is such a wide array of video content it can be daunting to figure out how to crack the code.
While there’s no guarantee that your video will be a big smash, there are some ways to help boost your chances of going viral.
1. Capitalize on current trends.
If you’re looking to make a video that is more scripted than spontaneous, check out the YouTube channels that are succeeding and what they’re doing. Some of the most popular categories of successful YouTube accounts are in makeup and hair tutorials, cooking channels and comedy, but there’s every other niche under the sun from unboxing to funny pets to narrating video games.
Try to pick up on a topic or trend that matches your industry and then put your unique twist on what’s trending. Think of all the ice bucket challenge videos, “Will you marry me” musical videos and other viral sensations. Just beware that if you compete in a highly trafficked niche, it might take a lot more views to trend than if you post video to a less crowded category.
2. Get the title down right.
Your title is perhaps one of the most important things about your viral video. One great tip is to actually think of the top viral videos that you yourself have shared with others. Some of the top trending viral videos right now are capitalizing not only on trends, but great titles that make people feel like they have to see the video.
Think of viral sensations such as “Tiny hamster eats tiny burrito” or “Best Motivational Video - Be Phenomenal.” You know from the title exactly what you’re about to watch and you can’t wait to get to it. You have to see it. If the title were “Watch my pet eat,” you might not be very compelled to click, but a hamster eating a burrito? You want to see that, and you especially want to see an adorable tiny hamster with a tiny burrito.
The same goes with motivational videos. If you’re scrolling through your Facebook news feed and someone posts a video that claims to be the best motivational video and encourages you to be phenomenal, you want to see that.
Nail the title and make sure you capitalize on people’s sense of curiosity.
3. Market it.
Sure, there are the breakout viral videos that are the result of luck, but by and large most of the highly trafficked and trending videos are actually well marketed. If you want to give your video the best shot at going viral, you need to plan before you film.
Follow the first tip and find a trending topic that matches your niche, and hopefully, identify an appropriate category to post it in that’s less trafficked so you have a better chance of rising to the top in that category. Rising to the top in any particular category means your video is going to show up in more search results for YouTube browsing and potentially you’ll land a spot on the home page where top videos across all categories are featured.
Upload a great, brief description and make sure it has keywords that will help your ranking and appropriately match your video. Ask friends and family to share and like the clip, and also reach out to key influencers through social media ahead of time to see if they’ll help spread the word when you launch the video.
When you take the time to plan a video post and ask for the support to help actively market it, you’ll have a better chance of gaining enough grassroots groundswell to actually get the momentum to then go viral.
4. Try syndication.
Content syndication platforms are pay-to-play advertising options you can utilize to help give your video a bit of a boost. Like other online ad options, you need to carefully strategize ahead of time and think about it like a marketing campaign.
What kind of budget do you have? What will your title be and description say? What image will be tied to the syndicated content piece? Where would you like your video post to potentially pop up?
Once you have a campaign outline and budget in mind, visit video-compatible content syndication platforms such as RebelMouse or Taboola and explore their advertising options. These platforms help your video content show up in similar stories all over the web through an advertising network to help you build more qualified links and click-through to go viral. If you’re looking to truly leverage your video and take it far, try syndication.
5. Quality matters, but sincerity is key.
There are some incredibly well produced shows on YouTube. Yet some of the highest trending videos of all time aren’t produced at all, but rather captured with home video or camera phones. Don’t be intimidated by the setup of your video. Sure, you want to try to do a nice job with the quality of your video, but just remember things such as good lighting and a dynamic setting can take you a long way for no budget, and it’s the sincerity of what you’re doing that really seems to count.
Look at the incredible dance videos out there, such as “Pumped Up Kicks - Dubstep,” which has more than 116 million views. This video features a performer filming from a single camera point who is simply dancing outside near a park bench. There’s nothing spectacular about the production quality but there is something impressive about his dancing and the sincerity of his moves. The same thing goes with the dancing holiday sensation, “Miracle on 42nd Street,” shot in a dance studio. Again, the performance is what’s catchy, not the production value.
If you take the time to create a video you feel passionate about and create great content in your video, you can overcome a high-dollar production value.