Sufi Stories

Celebrating innovation, creation and entrepreneurship

Basics of Viral Videos

A guest post by Venli.

YouTube is full of exotic tricks for making viral videos.

“The Baby Panda Sneezing” is an example of an unforgettable viral video which was shared massively with 140+ million views.

There are other properties of a viral-video – raw experiences which create a personal connection with the audience, and moments of real emotion showing human reactions to extraordinary events like those in Susan Boyle’s singing.

However, nobody, talks about the foundational principles which power these viral videos. In this post we have investigated the common attributes of viral videos. With these tips, your videos should become highly popular, if not fully viral.

Three reasons why videos become viral

The biggest myth I have heard is, “No one knows why something goes viral”. Obviously, this is a quote from someone who has never worked in marketing.

Look up BuzzFeed videos. Most of those videos have millions of views. Would you claim that it is all a matter of chance? No, their marketing team is trained to create viral content.

If you are a solo-vlogger, then you too can use these “secret” viral-video strategies to skyrocket your video views.

Video go viral through three different methods – via paid advertising, through SEO, and by getting shared massively.

Paid advertising strategy is the costliest to execute. It is easy to set up paid-promotion for your video channel in a few clicks. But you can also burn a lot of cash very quickly!

The people you attract to your videos through paid promotions are usually less disposed to buy things from you. They had clicked on the ‘view’ button because your advertisement asked them to, not because they fell in love with your videos.

Instead of blunt promotions which say “view my video”, there is a more effective subtler paid advertising strategy. Vloggers run contests and giveaways in their channel, and spread the word about it through paid advertising.

An advertising which encourages visitor interactions attracts people who are more likely to be your customer. If someone has invested the time to participate in a contest or other activities in your social network, he or she probably likes your channel well enough to become a possible customer in future.

Insider knowledge of search algorithms is another element which powers a video to viral status. Large companies directly work with the product teams of the search engine providers. They have insider knowledge of what can make a video go to the front of the line.

You, as an individual vlogger don’t have the financial wherewithal for those kinds of machinations. However, if you simply follow the publicly documented strategies for search-engine-optimization, you can easily get ahead of the pack. A separate post on video SEO covers the topic in great depth.

Another way of growing your YouTube channel is to get your videos shared by a lot of people. We are more likely to watch videos shared by our friends than click on sponsored ads. But how do you motivate people to share your videos with their friends?

To answer this question – we need to ask another question – “Why would anyone share any content in the first place?

Most of the people I know share their images and videos for social reasons – to make their friends laugh or to share useful and inspiring tips.

Many people love being the first to find something and share breaking news with their co-workers so they look smart. Sharing is also an easy way to stay connected with others.

What are the topics which will get you maximum viewers and sharing? Authenticity is the key to success on social media.

The topic for your channel must be something you want to vlog about. It should have stories from your own life, not text-book advice.

Having said that, it is good to look at what’s trending on YouTube.

The most popular topics on YouTube are product or service reviews, cooking & food, traveling, music, how-to guides, video games, funny animals, babies, comedies, pranks, parodies & sex-talk, cool shopping-hauls, unboxing your purchases, gossip about celebrities. Another big draw on YouTube is vlog in which you share your daily life either as a talking head or with some editing as in reality television.

If you have a large number of subscribers, you can run a survey and ask them what topics they want videos on.

In your channel, you can mix and match the above ideas. As an example, if you are an author running a YouTube channel about writing, you can include some videos of unboxing new writing supplies or share personal travel stories which inspire your writing. You could even have short videos of funny animals or babies which distract you from writing with their adorable pranks. You could also team up with another YouTuber and create a couple of joint videos – this would benefit each of you as you get exposed to a wider joint audience.

Large companies like BuzzFeed use multi-platform approach by making their videos available on different mediums like Blogs, Facebook, Vine and SnapChat, in addition to YouTube. For solopreneurs, it might be best to conserve their resources and focus on a few outlets like their own blogs and YouTube.

Analytics is as important for a solo-YouTuber as it is for gigantic corporations. Which of your videos are most shared? Is there a theme which is more popular? How can you tweak a less popular video to become more appealing? To answer these questions, you would want to look at YouTube analytics and then experiment with fine-tuning your videos.

What are the best practices for fine-tuning videos?

The fine-tuning best-practices for videos are very similar to those for blogs. Search-optimized headlines, strong start, interpersonal human angle, authenticity, lists, images, and interactive content such as quizzes, call-to-action are techniques which make your video more appealing.

In addition to sharing, you also want visitors to keep coming back. Keeping a constant flow of fresh and fetching content is thus very important. Instead of creating a masterpiece over a period of months, vloggers need to be producing, at-least, a couple of videos every month.

Most successful vloggers use a template and a checklist, to speed up videos production. The template consists of an introduction, main-body, and conclusion with a call-to-action. The checklist covers all the elements you want to have in your video – attention grabber, story and SEO.

In conclusion

Your videos will be automatically popular if they are surprising, or they make people laugh and connect with their emotions. The most successful channels are those which value authenticity, honesty and have a genuine desire to help people be successful.


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