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How to Create a Viral Video

Saturday, August 20, 2011 /

Chances are you’ve seen more than one of Time Magazine’s “YouTube’s  50 Best Videos” list. These videos all went viral for a variety of reasons. Even the 50th best video has nearly 7 million views. How many times did you log onto YouTube in the last week to watch a funny video or get redirected there to learn more about a product? YouTube has an average of 400 million visitors per month in the U.S. alone, and I’m betting you were one of them.  Thanks to viewers like you, it is the single most visited site on the Internet.
Working as a social media or marketing professional, the goal is to increase a client’s social media presence and attract potential clients. Many of these professionals think that viral videos are the best way to achieve these types of goals, but the work by no means stops there. Here is some helpful advice to consider when planning your own social media marketing campaign and considering a viral video.

"Viral" is not something you create; it's something that happens, often whether you want it to or not. Each video should be produced based on the marketing messages you want to convey, not based on whether or not it will become a hit with the internet's notoriously fickle audience. In fact, trying too hard to create something that comes across as "viral" may help your video stand out for the wrong reasons--because it's awkward and strained, not because it's natural and exciting.
Often times, entrepreneurs, brand managers and marketing execs are distracted by the exciting idea of viral videos and think these videos should be the center of their campaign. It’s easy to forget to look at the bigger picture and therefore the incorporation of important tools like blogging, PR, social networking and news coverage.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Because the video is one part of a campaign, don’t hang all of your hopes on it. Sadly, all the planning and man-hours in the world won’t guarantee that it ever goes viral. It’s especially important to remember Tip #1- you don’t want to leave the video to stand on its own because no one can ever guarantee its massive success.

It's important to remember that producing content for YouTube does not require expensive production values that put Hollywood to shame. Prospects seeking out information on new home communities want to hear from fellow homebuyers about their experiences. A low-end HD video camera is just a few hundred dollars; set up your equipment in a nice area of the home with good lighting, and just let the customers speak for themselves. Above all else, stay focused on message and clarity.
YouTube videos never end on YouTube. Leverage your social media presence across outlets to maximize exposure. Embed the video in a blog post, send a link out via Twitter and Facebook, even send a quick e-mail to industry journalists you know and trust. The greatest amount of attention won't come from the YouTube community discovering your work, but from the internet at large discovering what you've done through other outlets. Also, depending on your goals for the campaign, be sure to target the best outlets to get your message across--local press and social media outlets may provide more traffic than trying to gain exposure on major industry or mainstream media blogs.
Don't sacrifice the value of your brand for the sake of some attention. It may seem as though the most outlandish ideas gain the most attention via YouTube. That may be true, but do you want attention at the expense of becoming synonymous only with a viral video hit, rather than the quality of your product? Again, online video is a useful tool as part of a larger, focused media strategy. It is not where the campaign ends; it's where your campaign should begin.

For more information on how you can grow your following on Twitter and Facebook, make sure to ASK Carol! East Coast Carol (aka Carol Flammer) can be reached at or West Coast Carol (aka Carol Ruiz) can be reached at http://www.redrocketla.

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