Be Short and Sweet
Keep in mind, you’re creating content for the 140 character Twitter generation. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, which means it’s time to tighten up your video content. A survey published in The New York Times found more than 19 percent of people had left a video after only 10 seconds. By a minute in, the video had lost a staggering 44 percent of viewers.
Since you’ll lose almost half of your audience by the end of minute one, put your most interesting, fascinating, funny, or surprising information first and foremost in your video. Creating viral video content is one place where you never want to save the best for last.
Jonah Berger, author of the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, found the most highly sharable content tended to evoke strong emotions in the reader or viewer. And of those emotions, the most sharable content tended to be that which had a positive or upbeat note. Using empirical research, Berger and UPenn Professor Katherine Milkman found happy emotions tended to outperform sad emotions in the realm of sharability.
To be sharable, content needs to strike an emotional chord in viewers. These same viewers are more likely to share upbeat content, so if you want your videos to go viral, it’s important to strive for a positive spin.
If you want your videos to make the jump to virality, it might be time to brush up on your current events. By hooking into an existing Internet meme or popular topic, you increase the odds your content will be viewed and shared by those already interested in the topic.
This can be anything from a current event in the world, to a pop culture topic dominating the news. For example, just look at how many parodies of popular entertainment like Game of Thrones and Frozen exist on video channels. If you speak the same language as your target audience and present interest in the same topics, they’ll be more likely to share your content.
One of the keys to virality is engagement. Engaging with an audience can lead to loyalty and interest. After all, everyone likes to be heard. This is the approach taken by companies like Old Spice in several of advertising campaigns.
At one point, the Old Spice man, played by actor Isaiah Mustafa, answered fan questions on social media in short YouTube videos. Adding an engagement portion to your videos, like answering viewer questions, can give your content a boost and make it more sharable.
Your audience is always searching for new information and better ways to perform everyday tasks. If your video content is interesting and informative, it is also highly sharable. Everyone wants to learn something they didn’t already know, and videos can be a great tool for curating top-notch information.
At my company Pluto.TV, we curate the best videos for viewers, whether they’re looking for world news or cat videos. You need to take a similar approach to your videos, and curate the best and most informative content to surprise and inform your viewers.
By now, the incredible story of Upworthy’s success is old news. The site skyrocketed to more than six million unique page views per month in its first year, thanks in part to its famous (and infamous) headlines. Another reason is because the site looks to find inspiring stories to share with their large readership.
To get the viral edge you want, look for stories to inspire your readership, whether it’s a story of overcoming struggle, standing up in the face of adversity, or just finding success. Audiences love a good inspirational story, and the more inspirational it is, the more your audience will want to share it with others.
Creating viral videos isn’t easy — if it was, every business would have a few viral hits. These six pieces of advice can help you improve your content’s sharability and quality, improving your odds at viral success.
What are your tips for creating viral videos? Share in the comments!