Going Viral: Making Awesome Videos

Do you remember this video going around just before Mother’s Day this year? It was posted quietly on YouTube sometime in April, and by the time Mother’s Day came around it was being shared on social media networks everywhere.

I have to say, that little twist towards the end had me tearing up a little, too.

It was a great move by American Greetings, and a very well-made video. There’s little surprise that it became so popular and went viral so quickly. It had all the right elements to be perfectly shareable.

There’s more than enough reason for brands to want to create and use viral videos in their marketing.

But not all brands can get the hang of creating awesome videos that are compelling and shareable.

So here are 5 tips to help you with making an awesome viral video for your brand:

1. Make it relatable.

Videos that your audience can relate to on a personal level will be able to strike a chord in your viewers’ emotions – which is right where you want to hit them.


The “World’s Toughest Job” video that I just posted above is definitely relatable. Only heartless people wouldn’t get a little teary-eyed when being reminded about the sacrifices their mothers made and the unconditional love they gave, right? (Or parents, for those of us whose dads did just as awesome a job raising them.)

You either want to go with something that resonates with a lot of viewers, or something that resonates with your target audience specifically – though the former will of course ensure that a lot more people may like (and share!) your video.

Videos that are relatable also allow you to reinforce the culture and personality of your brand.

2. Don’t make it too long.

The problem with long videos these days is that they tend to cause people’s eyes to keep shifting down to the bar at the bottom of the screen, as people decide whether they’re willing to invest the time to watch the rest of your video.


In order for a video to be 5 minutes or longer, it has to be really good. You have to be able to hook your viewers with some really amazing content, otherwise they won’t be willing to watch all of it (especially in this age of decreasing attention spans).

The optimal length for a viral video is apparently no longer than one minute and 45 seconds.

So condense your marketing message, and make things too long-winded or convoluted. That will help make things clear to your viewers – as well as make it easier to catch and keep their attention.

3. Plan your distribution strategy. 

In order for your target audience to watch any of your videos, you need to make sure you put the video on a distribution channel where your target audience will actually see it.

You’ll need to do some research on your audience. Find out their usual online discovery habits, then use that information to structure a plan of distribution.

Getting a video onto the right channel can help to maximize the chances of it going viral.

4. Tell a story.

People are natural storytellers.

Stories help others to relate more to your brand and your product, and opens the door for great conversation.

It also encourages people to share their own experiences or speculate about what they’d do in a similar situation, which is a great starting point to encourage people to share your video as well.

The story doesn’t even have to be something amazing. It could be as simple as this little girl who doesn’t want her baby brother to grow up… while being all adorable about it.

There’s barely a story in there – yet look at that view count!

5. Write a viral title.

You need a title that rolls of the tongue, and is chock-full of keywords, and yet still describes the content of your video well.

Think of a title that goes well with the sentence: “Have you seen the video of _____?”

Say you made a video of yourself learning to dance ballet.

Here’s a bad title for that video: “My Journey of Dance: The Road To Ballerina-dom”

This is not much better: “Learning To Dance Like A Ballerino”

This is good, but not the best: “Man Learns To Dance Ballet”

You need a title like this: “Guy Learns To Dance Ballet In 3 Weeks! [SPED UP]”

It contains the required keywords, tells viewers exactly what they can expect to see, and informs them that they don’t have to worry about the video being too boring or too lengthy (because it’s sped up, so it’s probably a montage-like piece with appropriate music or something).


So what happens once you do go viral? 

So you managed to get your 15 minutes of fame.

During those 15 minutes, you want to open as many opportunities as you can. There’ll be time to bask in your fame later – for now, make sure the media can get hold of you, respond to emails and tweets, accept interviews… and most importantly, have a clear idea of where you want to direct your traffic from all this exposure.

Yeah so…. break a leg.

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