What Causes Videos to Go Viral?

YouTube videos are an effective – and free – method for companies to share content with audiences. In fact, the rate at which videos are viewed is astonishing. More than 500 years worth of YouTube videos are viewed on Facebook every day, and Twitter shares 700 YouTube videos per second. If a video goes viral, the results are exponential and the company has just hit social media marketing gold. The big question remains, what causes some videos to go viral? Through studying trends, marketers have a few insights on what makes brand videos go viral on the social web.

For videos to go viral, a large number of people must share to smaller groups. A study by BuzzFeed found that among the most popular stories on Facebook, the median ratio of Facebook views to shares was 9 to 1; meaning only 9 people visited the story for every Facebook share. Content becomes viral when it spreads across the social web through ordinary people sharing with their friends. So we’ve established what must happen for a video to go viral. Now what makes certain videos so special?

“In a world where over two days of video get uploaded every minute, only that which is truly unique and unexpected can stand out in the way that viral videos have,” says Kevin Allocca, trends manager at YouTube. A viral brand video must tell a story and entertain its audience instead of feeling like an advertisement. Selling and overuse of brand logos is a turn-off for viewers. However, weaving a logo into the content of the story is acceptable. Google consistently does a good job of this by using emotional storytelling to promote its products, as seen in the “Parisian Love” commercial.

“Why company videos don’t go viral is because they make it about them. There’s a difference here – when you make it about the viewer, they connect and they spread it and that’s when you can get tens of thousands to millions of views is if you can get yourself out of there for a second,” says Scott Stratten of UnMarketing. By removing the commercial and catering to the audience, companies have a shot at people spreading their video, and the great thing about viral is that it is perpetual.

Once a video is made, enhance the ability to share it by making the video embeddable and mobile-friendly, and by using all the social media widgets to ease the process for viewers. Blue Interactive Agency offers corporate social media solutions to market your business on YouTube with effective and relevant video content. Use YouTube marketing to create your own channel and strengthen your customer base. Contact us to create and upload optimized videos for YouTube.