Ingredients for Cooking Up Viral Business Video

Four Secret Ingredients for Cooking Up Viral Business Video

Posted by Charissa Hurd on January 9, 2013

We’ve all seen those videos that seem to hit every inbox and Facebook page across America. We talk about them at the water cooler, Tweet about them while in line for coffee, and occasionally even hear about them on the morning news. The most popular viral videos run the gamut from dancing wedding attendants and choreographed routines in Chinese prison yards to people standing in awe of rainbows and Old Spice ads. But what really makes a video go viral, and how can you effectively get your message out? It may seem like your production is merely a grain of flour in a giant brownie batch of videos, but there are some ways you can help your video get a virtual blue ribbon. We’ve discovered four secret ingredients found in most viral videos and are sharing them with you so that you may learn how to blend these flavors together for a successful and tasty response from your viewers.

1. Add a Human Touch and Mix It Up

Keep things light, and keep them real. One of the most important factors in a viral video is the feeling that you are watching real people just being themselves. It draws you in. The fact that viral video “stars” are not professional actors, but are actually average Janes and Joes doing captivating and interesting things, elicits a far more positive response from viewers than professional productions. Viral videos are accessible and have an element of imagination to them. They make viewers feel as if they could join in on the fun.

Lay your inhibitions aside and let go of the idea that video aficionados will expect you to kick out a Spielberg production. In all actuality, Hollywood producers and directors have a hard time getting their professionally-produced movie trailer clips to go viral. Hollywood frequently outsources online video campaigns to social media gurus who push, plug and peddle them until they achieve reasonable exposure. The masses tend to choke on professionally-created videos because they lack the genuineness and authenticity that drives true engagement (sparking a viral outbreak of interest).

Granted, it’s not all impromptu and off the cuff. Those wedding dancers rehearsed a bit before they walked down the aisle. And clearly the Chinese inmates were instructed on their choreography in advance. Think about mapping out a plan for your own video and consider what you want to communicate. Think about who you want to influence, who is your target audience, how you want to reach them and what will best capture their attention. Once you have the basics down and are ready to aim the camera at yourself or your coworkers, be sure to embrace serendipity. Let it flow naturally. You can never predict what morsels you will capture that end up making your video the next sweet internet sensation.

2. Share a Story and Spread Evenly

Many viral videos tell stories that appeal to our everyday interactions with the world around us. Viral video is the modern incarnation of traditional oral and generational storytelling. We have become a very visual culture. Video has a way of making us feel like we are connected to those 2.5 million other viewers who also had rave reviews about that same fantastic clip. Spread the scope of your story by beginning with an attention-getting introduction, building up interest until a climax is reached and then release to a tidy conclusion.

Did you think that the dancing Chinese inmates lacked a story? Although you see men in matching uniforms dance in a prison yard to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, you get a sense that Michael Jackson’s music is this universal connector that spans culture, country and language. You understand that the inmates’ frolicking is temporary, ending as soon as the routine is over and it’s time to return to their cells. You hope that the human spirit will overcome adversity and rise above circumstance. You are connected. The best stories make you feel like you are part of a bigger picture. They are compelling and establish a link with the viewer.

You may not believe it, but you have a story to share as well (yes, you). Certainly you are passionate about your life, and it is likely that you are passionate about your work as well. Your clients see it in your face, hear it in your voice, and catch that sparkle in your eyes when you have something to share that lights you up inside. Beyond plugging your goods and services, tell your own savory story. If you stop and think about it, you have some appetizing bits and pieces to share with the world.

3. Sprinkle with Joy and Happiness

Videos that end up going viral tend to communicate a sense of joy, delight, or hope, capturing the hearts of millions of viewers. Beyond just making them laugh, people respond to videos when they provoke real moments of joy and pure emotion. Shoot for the heart.

Utilize video as a means of demonstrating your expertise, but don’t forget to occasionally offer up those fantastic heartwarming moments that make life worthwhile. We live in a world of financial turmoil, wide scale natural disasters, epidemics, poverty and war. In the midst of the madness, offer an oasis of glee for a joy-starved world.

Discovery Channel launched their “The World Is Just Awesome” video campaign and received almost two million views on the first release. The video is merely a medley of clips from Discovery’s various programs, but all of the pieces are amazing (and real) glimpses into what makes our world awe-inspiring. We can take a few notes from the Discovery Channel about sprinkling some joy into our own video efforts.

4. Add a Dash of Creativity

Seasoned chefs will tell you that a major factor in producing remarkable recipes is creativity. The more prominent chefs are able to blend ingredients and flavors together in unique and interesting ways, which keeps their diners coming back again and again. Successful viral videos also have an element creativity. Video, after all, is geared at providing some sort of entertainment value. Your YouTube videos have a greater chance of achieving viral status if you spice things up and inject your own creative style.

An anomaly in the professionally-produced video arena, the Old Spice “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign did so remarkably well because it was creative and unexpected. You didn’t know what was going to happen next, all while injecting humor while you watched to find out. Gary Stibel, CEO and founder of The New England Consulting Group, remarked about Old Spice, “We think that Old Spice is up. We don’t think it’s up in the double digits, but it’s up meaningfully, and we think it’s driven 100 percent by marketing.”

Video content that is unique, memorable, edgy or unusual will always garner a better response than those that lean toward the mundane. Think about what you can do to grip your audience and provide content that is out of the ordinary. Injecting elements that are shockingly creative will entice your audience and leave them at the edge of their seats. They will enjoy every savory bit of video you dish out when you provide a bit of ingenuity.

Bake Until Lightly Brown Around the Edges

You may have produced the next best thing to hit the net, but perhaps it isn’t getting the exposure you had hoped for. Be patient with your efforts. Some videos are overnight sensations, and others take quite a while to gain a following.

Some tips for getting the word out:

Share your videos through your email newsletter
Post your video to your blog, and ask other bloggers to post it as well
Post your video to your social media sites
Remind people from time to time that your video is out there

The perfect recipe involves a great idea, serendipitous timing, and a fair amount of luck. Viral video, by its nature, is unpredictable and a bit of a phenomenon. However, if you include these secret ingredients and blend them into your video, you are more likely to engender a response that reaches beyond the borders of your business community and has an impact that gets talked about. Remember to keep things human, joyful, accessible, full of story, and creative. Enjoy cooking up your own video sensation.

Charissa Hurd is a Marketing & Communications Support Genius. In addition to writing fun, engaging and interesting blog posts, she assists with email marketing strategy, marketing and implementaiton. Her pop culture blogs are highly entertaining, so be sure to check back soon!

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