It can happen seemingly all at once—a video goes from being one of many on YouTube or Vine, to being on the news, in timelines all across the Internet, and on the lips of everyone you know. The transformation from viewed to viral is seemingly a mysterious one, but is likely a combination of a few key factors. While neither we nor our clients would ever guarantee you a viral sensation, you can learn a bit from some of the Internet’s most popular clips when thinking about your project.
Keep It Simple
Think about the premise of Charlie Bit My Finger: a toddler reacting strongly to being bitten by his baby brother. Moments like this happen every day, but few of us catch them on film in time to share them far and wide. Charlie Bit My Finger is engaging for the outrage of the film’s older star, but also for its simplicity. People will watch and gain from things they understand easily, and will shy away from things that are too complicated.
OK GO’s video for Here It Goes Again got people talking because it evoked the phrase “You gotta see this!” Few had seen anyone do what they did, and the push to share the experience with others made the video wildly popular. If your video addresses its topic or subject in a way that no one’s ever seen before, you’re more likely to fascinate and engage viewers than if it’s something they’ve seen a thousand times before.
Make It Familiar
While creating intrigue with something new is a viable strategy, it can also be beneficial to inject elements of the familiar. Judson Laipply learned that quickly when his Evolution of Dance broke YouTube view records. His six minute dance was impressive not for new techniques, but for combining a series of well-known techniques and dances in new ways. If your project includes elements that are comforting to your audience, they’ll appreciate the gesture to make them feel at home!
Brevity Is Best
The reason that short-form video applications like Vine, Instagram Video, and others have proliferated is to account for the shortening attention span of our viewership. Before these platforms existed, Dramatic Squirrel went viral via YouTube with a length of only 6 seconds. While we don’t condone your films be that short, we like to include length as a consideration alongside point of view, script, and other technical elements of production. How long does your film need to be? How short can you make it? Thinking about this can make the most of your viewers’ time.
While we can’t promise that our time together will yield a viral sensation, thinking about some of these unlikely successes could be key to keeping your project engaging and entertaining for those who watch. For an example of some of the work that we do, check out our selection gallery.