A viral video is one that rapidly gains views and engagement online. To increase the chances of going viral, choose an audience, write a focused script, capture video footage, and, if it’s part of your goals, determine how to monetize your success. Then, share and promote it on social media to increase brand awareness.
Creating viral content can be time-consuming, expensive, and intimidating—especially if you don’t have the expertise required to film and edit video. If you don’t already have a digital marketing team or don’t want to break the bank, find a freelancer on Fiverr. For as little as $5, one of the platform’s vetted professionals can help you write a script for your video and then edit and promote raw footage so it goes viral. Click here to get started.
Here are the nine steps for creating a viral video:
1. Identify Your Target Audience
If you want to create a viral video for marketing purposes, first identify your ideal customer. Your video’s target audience will dictate the type of video you create and promote, such as a music video or funny animal video. For example, if you are marketing a product to teenagers, it makes more sense to create a funny video that is age-appropriate and somehow related to a current cultural phenomenon.
To determine your ideal audience, evaluate the characteristics of your current clients and categorize them into customer segments. Then, reach out to customers who are particularly well-suited to your business and find out what they like about your business, products, and services. Finally, create a persona based on their background, demographics, preferences, pain points, and other characteristics. To get started, check out our customer persona template.
2. Choose Your Preferred Sharing Platform
A video can gain viral success through a variety of online communities, but some platforms are more appropriate for certain videos and businesses than others. This is because each platform has unique characteristics that make it better suited to certain video lengths, formats, and content. For example, longer videos are typically better suited to YouTube, while Instagram is best for businesses that want to boost existing brand engagement with shorter content.
Common viral video platforms include:
Optimize your video for YouTube if you want people to be able to search for the content based on specific keywords. If you want to focus on gaining momentum for your video on YouTube, create a longer video (about two minutes) and create a catchy and keyword-rich title and description.
Facebook is the ideal video sharing platform if you want to interact with your viewers in real-time using live streaming videos and commenting, and if you plan to optimize your existing social media presence. To go viral, a Facebook video should be shorter than one on YouTube (only 30 to 60 seconds) because most Facebook users have come to the platform to track their connections, not watch video content.
With the exception of Instagram Live, videos on Instagram are typically shorter than on other social media sites. Instagram is perfect for eye-catching, curated photos and quick Instagram Stories that disappear after 24 hours. Therefore, Instagram is only a good option for extremely short viral videos that allow you to capitalize on an already large following. This is because short videos are often better for keeping existing followers engaged rather than introducing a brand.
3. Choose the Type of Viral Video
There are four main types of viral videos for small business, including music videos, content intended for kids, funny animal videos, and mishaps. Celebrity videos and not safe for work (NSFW) content are also good viral material but are not great options for small businesses. After you identify your ideal audience, consider which type of video is most consistent with your brand and, therefore, likely to gain the highest viewership and lead to viral success.
4. Write the Script
No matter what other steps you take to make a video go viral, the content itself is the most important element. To make your video more appealing to a large audience—and to increase the likelihood of its success—tell a story but keep your message simple and clear. Successful videos have a focused message that plays to emotions like excitement, amusement, or anger.
When planning your video content, follow these tips:
- Keep the message simple: As with blog posts and landing pages, videos with a clear, focused message perform better than complicated content. For that reason, you should determine your video’s message early in the process and then focus your video to get the message across as efficiently as possible.
- Tell a story: Draw viewers to your video with a viral title but ensure they watch and then share your video by telling a compelling story.
- Play to your audience’s emotions: People are more likely to watch and share online content if it appeals to their emotions. Focus your video on simple emotions that are more likely to make a video go viral, like excitement, awe, amusement, anxiety, and anger. Digital marketers recommend avoiding emotions like contentment and sadness because they’re less likely to compel a viewer to remember and share the content.
- Provide value: Like other marketing strategies, it’s important to provide potential clients something of value in exchange for their time and, ideally, contact information. By incorporating something of value into your video, you’ll attract a larger audience and increase the chances of going viral.
The actual content is the most important element of a viral video, so it’s important to create a script that will appeal to viewers. However, this can be a difficult task for those with limited digital marketing experience. Consider hiring an experienced freelancer through Fiverr to help create a viral story and video script; per-project pricing starts at just $5.
5. Film & Edit the Video
After you finalize a script, assemble the cast of your video and film enough content to create a 30-second to two-minute video. The ideal length of the video varies depending on your audience and preferred sharing platform. For example, YouTube users are likely more willing to watch longer videos, while Instagram and Facebook videos should be shorter. Once recorded, edit the footage yourself or hire someone, like a Fiverr freelancer, to create a final, shareable film.
When compiling the final version of your video, also include logos, contact information, and any other information that will help build brand awareness for your company. For example, decide where to direct video traffic from the social media or streaming platform where you’re sharing your video. Depending on your business and your existing marketing strategy, direct viewers to your social media profile, relevant blog posts, your business website, or a custom landing page.
6. Create a Viral Title & Description
The video itself is what will make your content go viral, but an optimized title and description are necessary to catch the attention of your target audience. In addition to including keywords that tell the search engine what your content is about, make the video’s title catchy enough that people will want to view it and share it with their friends. Then, optimize the description with relevant keywords, apply tags, and create an eye-catching thumbnail to pique curiosity.
Follow these steps when drafting a title and supporting materials for your video:
Choose a Catchy Title
The right video title will capture the attention of viewers and make the video easier and more fun to share with friends. Leave some room for curiosity but clearly explain what the video is about so you get a targeted audience that is more likely to engage with the content. For example, if you’re using YouTube or other platform that allows users to search by keyword, the title is your best opportunity to show the platform’s algorithms what your content is about.
For example, a title for a home supply company selling remote-operated lawnmowers might title their product video, “Mow Your Lawn Without Ever Touching a Lawnmower.” This would be far more enticing than a title like “Check Out Our New Lawnmowing Products!” Plus, the first title includes valuable keywords like “lawn” and “lawnmower.”
Draft Optimized Copy
A video’s description is your opportunity to include keywords that will help the content show up in searches on YouTube and elsewhere. You can also use the description to talk more about your video’s message, share something of value with your viewers, and link out to your business’ website. YouTube’s limit for video descriptions is 1,000 characters, so choose text that will attract the attention of viewers and describe your video.
To identify which keywords to use, start by generating a list of keyword ideas based on YouTube’s search suggestion feature. Also review popular videos in your niche to identify which keywords they are using in titles, descriptions, and video tags. If you have an existing YouTube channel, check out your YouTube search report for additional keyword inspiration. Then, search keywords in YouTube and use those with the lowest competition.
Create an Eye-catching Thumbnail
A video’s thumbnail is the first thing a viewer will see, so it’s important to choose a thumbnail image that is eye-catching and that inspires curiosity about the video. To edit a video’s thumbnail on YouTube, select the video, click on “Edit” and then “Edit thumbnail.” You can then choose “Custom thumbnail” to upload an attention-grabbing video thumbnail from your device.
Apply Relevant Tags
If you share your video on YouTube, you’ll also have the opportunity to add tags that will increase the likelihood of your video showing up in search results. To make the most of your YouTube tags, make your first tag the most important and use a broad keyword to help YouTube better understand your content. Then, zero in on more specific tags that describe the exact topic of your video. To help, you can use a tag generator like Keyword Keg.
7. Decide When to Release Your Video
The success of social media content depends largely on the day and time that it’s posted online. In general, people tend to watch YouTube videos when they’re bored at work or trying to kill time. For that reason, you should post your video on a Monday or Tuesday so it has an entire work week of exposure to get traction with viewers. Avoid posting on days when there is a lot of breaking news and weeks with holidays that might distract your potential viewers.
In addition to choosing the best day to share your video, post it at the optimal time of day based on your target audience and sharing platform. For example, it’s currently recommended that you post videos to YouTube between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday and Friday. Experts report that it’s best to post on Instagram weekdays between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern Time.
8. Share & Promote Your Video
When your video is ready, share it on the relevant platforms and promote it to gain as much initial traction as possible. Promotion of a viral video requires sharing on social media, but you should specifically target social media influencers and other brands that are particularly well-suited to your video and are most likely to share it with their networks. Then, use SEO backlinking to drive more traffic and make it easy for the media to get in touch with you.
Ways to promote a viral video include:
- Share on social media: The most obvious way to promote a video online is via social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Market your video through your business and social profiles and urge friends and other contacts to share it early and often.
- Contact influencers: Before you release your video, use a website like Buzzsumo to reach out to social media influencers who might be interested in sharing your video. You can also contact other parties who might benefit from the success of your video and ask them to promote it.
- Utilize SEO backlinking: Backlinking is when third-party sites link back to content on your own site. If you effectively promote your video to influencers and other interested parties, they will link to your video or website. If these are high-quality sources, it will improve visibility and grow your video’s audience organically.
- Be media-friendly: Make sure it’s easy for members of the media to get in touch with you by including your website and business contact information in the video and video description. If you prefer to keep video-related communications separate from your other emails, create a dedicated address so all of the media inquiries are funneled to a single mailbox.
9. Optimize Your 15 Minutes of Fame
When a video goes viral unexpectedly, it’s easy to miss out on the marketing opportunities that come with viral success. However, if you create a video planning to go viral, you’ll be ready to capture leads, increase brand awareness, manage press inquiries, and make as much money as possible from your 15 minutes of fame.
After your video goes viral, respond to as many of the tweets, emails, and other valid press and client inquiries as possible. Streamline this process by drafting some response templates to send out quickly while interest in the video is high. Then, prioritize responses based on how likely each contact is to increase your video’s success and help you achieve your business goals.
6 Tips From the Pros for Creating Viral Videos
It’s true that many successful videos follow a template that makes them more likely to get picked up by an online community’s algorithm and go viral. However, the process for how to make a video go viral can be extremely nuanced. To help, we talked to digital marketing professionals to find out how they make marketing videos stand out and go viral.
Here are our six favorite tips from the pros:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you make something go viral?
How to make something go viral depends on several factors, like the purpose of your video and the type of content. To optimize your video for online sharing, keep it short and focus on a single message or theme. Then, choose a catchy but descriptive title that will pique the curiosity of your audience. Finally, share and promote the video to grow your audience on social media.
How many hits do you need to go viral?
In the early days of viral videos, it was estimated that a video needed a million views to be considered “viral.” However, this number has increased to more than five million YouTube views within a few days. For platforms like Facebook, where success is based on engagement, posts that get around 10,000 likes or comments in the first hour are considered viral.
Do you make money if your video goes viral?
You can make money if your video goes viral by linking out to your business’ website and capturing leads with a pop-up form or landing page. This requires some advanced planning, so you should already have a landing page in place before you share your video. You can also opt to license your video for use by advertisers or secure payments for third-party advertising on platforms like YouTube.
Bottom Line: How to Make a Viral Video
Viral videos may gain mass popularity for a variety of reasons. Typically, however, content that enjoys viral success is created with a specific audience in mind and with a short and focused message. The success of a viral video also depends on the quality of the content, when it is posted, how well it is promoted, and how it is monetized for business or personal use. Follow our guide above to increase the chances of your video going viral.
If you want to boost your marketing strategy or social media presence with viral content but don’t have any digital marketing experience, check out Fiverr. The platform offers thousands of vetted professionals who can help you create and promote a viral video for as little as $5 per gig. Click here to get started.