More and more, people are going online for their entertainment. With so many people online, it just makes sense that your company should be taking advantage of this new wave of web-based media; and one of those ways is to jump on board with your own viral video.
While it may seem like a pretty easy thing to create, there are actually quite a few factors that go into making a video that people like and want to share. And while a lot of your video’s potential recognition depends on timing and just the right people picking up on it, there are a few things you can do to help your video climb in popularity.
Who’s watching this?
One of the first factors you need to consider is your viewing audience. Online videos are mainly being viewed by the 18 to 34 age range, but the 40 and 50 age groups aren’t too far behind. If you’re aiming for an older audience, you probably want to stay away from overly crude language, pop music and slang abbreviations such as “lmao.” But if you’re going for the younger years, you can get a good idea of what’s popular by checking out the most recent top viral videos. Websites such as ViralVideoChart (and, of course, YouTube) post top viral video updates for the past month, week and even day. Besides videos, you can also log into social media sites like StumpleUpon, Pinterest and Facebook to see what’s popular.
In an increasingly busy world, people have less and less time to waste checking out videos. Basically, if they aren’t enthralled in the first few seconds, you’ve lost them. So as you’re creating your video, keep in mind that the very first two to three seconds are the most critical. You need to hook them with a memorable line, a remarkable image, or maybe even something that shocks them. No matter what, it needs to draw them in. After that, your video should still only be about 15 to 30 seconds long – just enough time for your audience to enjoy it and not get bored.
Make it memorable
Great commercials seem to be popping up left and right these days. From Orbitz’s “singing burrito” commercials to those adorable guinea pigs rowing away in a fish tank for Geico, it’s the memorable commercials that stick with you.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly the right formula for making a commercial that stays with your audience long after it has aired. But according to the founders of Seedwell in a recent interview by Mashable.com, a memorable viral video is typically either incredible (“I can’t believe they just did that!”), ridiculously cute or a parody of something popular and timely. No matter what, it needs to immediately catch your audiences’ attention and it needs to be good enough that they’ll want to pass it on to others.
Judging a Video by its Thumbnail
Picking through YouTube for a good video to watch is like going to the Library of Congress for a good book to read. There’s so much out there that it’s easier to just browse by title until you find something you like. That’s why coming up with a catchy video title is almost as important as creating the video itself – and right up there with your title should be an eye-catching thumbnail, or freeze frame from your video. While flipping through video sites, the first things your potential viewers are going to look for are a title that makes them curious and a thumbnail that makes them think, “I need to see this.” If you need some inspiration on creating good titles and capturing good thumbnails, check out a site like Ebaumsworld or LiveLeak and see what’s drawing in today’s audiences.
Now that you have your short, catchy video, title and thumbnail, you need to get the word out; not only about your video, but about your company – and you need to do it with subtlety. Video viewers rarely pass around videos that are blatantly advertising. If you notice, many of the commercials on television barely even mention their product until the very end, and the content rarely has anything to do with the product.
The same goes with viral videos. Instead of working your company or company’s product into the video itself, have the information pop up as a contrasting bar at the bottom of the screen. Or create your video in letterbox format (with a dark bar across the bottom and top of the screen) and have your advertising appear in the frame. You may even just put your company name at the very end. This way you avoid obvious advertising, but still get the information across to your viewers. And if your video becomes really popular, you could even sell additional space to other advertisers.
While these tips should help you in creating a video designed for the times, keep in mind that if you aren’t entertained watching it, your potential customers won’t be either – and viral videos are all about entertainment. Gear your video toward your audience, keep it short and memorable, be subtle about your advertising, and come up with an attention-grabbing title and thumbnail — you’ll be well on your way to viral stardom.