Joe Degand: The value of going viral

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With over two billion YouTube video views and Vine loops playing each day, it’s safe to say that online video has not only become one of the most popular mediums, but also an extremely powerful marketing tool for businesses wanting to reinforce their brand to both loyal customers and new consumers.

Not only do you have the chance of achieving high reach at a small cost, but online video gives the power to create a voice or tone specific to your brand. In fact, uploading and broadcasting video is completely free.

The problem with using online video to build your brand is that there are over a billion videos on YouTube alone, meaning you really need to stand out to capture attentions. But how can you do that? By going viral!

Now there’s no specific blueprint one can follow to get their video seen around the world by millions of people. A lot of it comes down to luck and timing, but there are some things you can consider to help make your video a bit more likely to hit the social media jackpot.

Here are three that immediately spring to mind:

Make it appealing

One of the key ways of getting your video widely-viewed is by creating something that almost anyone can relate to, no matter there age, gender, race or religion. Whether it be a portraying a happy moment, humorous ‘fact of life’ or a heart-wrenching tale, you’ll need to come up with an idea that is appealing and easily understood by the masses – otherwise you’re limiting your potential reach.

A prime example of this is a video created by Sandy Hook Promise, a group of parents that were effected by the tragic shooting in America in four years ago. Their video titled Evan, which raises awareness about gun violence in schools and highlights some of the telltale signs, has accumulated over 5.5 million after just two weeks of going live on YouTube.

And on the opposite side of the emotional spectrum is, of course, John Lewis’s Christmas advert for 2016 titled #BusterTheBoxer, which has been watched over 21.5 million times in just one month.

Hook into the present

Another key to going viral is being quick to capitalise on the present – whether it be a trend, event or news story.

To increase the chances of your video becoming a digital success, try thinking ahead. Look into what’s coming up over the next year, from The Olympics to Wimbeldon and The World Cup. Once you’ve done this, map out which events you could tap into with a video.

If planning isn’t your thing, then be sure to keep extremely up-to-date on what’s happening in the world – from dance crazes to popular films and songs. If you don’t plan and don’t know, then your video won’t succeed like it might have otherwise.

Here’s an example of how a Lincolnshire care home hooked onto the Pharrell Williams hit, ‘Happy’, by creating a video of residents and staff dancing to the song. Made without the intention of going viral, to the home’s surprise, the video received over 10,000 views within its first few days.

Think outside the box

Get creative and do something people have never seen before. Sounds simple, but it’s easier said than done. Just like there’s no blueprint for going viral, there’s also no formula for creativity. The best answer is to first decide on your hook and then seek out inspiration by watching television, reading or simply observing things that happen during everyday life.

If you want to pull on people’s heartstrings with your video, think about the situation you want to portray and really get down to the core of it. If humor or fun is the approach you want to take, find an everyday truth or problem, multiply it by ten and let your product or service offer up a solution.

Or you could simply play a joke on people like LG Electronics did back in 2014!

Get the ball rolling yourself

No one says going viral has to happen 100% organically, so if you want to get your video seen by more people without waiting to see if it spreads via ‘word-of-mouth’ on its own, put a bit of marketing budget behind promoting it to people on Facebook and Twitter.

On Facebook, £20 could get your video seen by over 10,000 people with locations, ages and interests you’ve specifically selected – and the same goes for Twitter with hashtags.

The most important thing about going viral is to not make a video with that as your main objective. Going viral should always be the icing on an already tasty cake.