Aiming for the Elusive Viral Video


What do babies, cats, chickens and the 80’s all have in common? All have the potential to become viral videos. Everyone has a favorite viral video. Maybe you found it searching on YouTube, saw it on a friend’s Facebook wall or heard a coworker laughing hysterically in the cube next to you.

For me, Keyboard Cat is definitely in my top 10 favorite viral videos. With over 34 million views and counting, Keyboard Cat has expanded its empire into merchandise, t-shirts, posters, mugs, the list goes on. Charlie Bit Me is another “classic” viral video with over 656 million views; it has remixes, auto tunes and parodies galore.

After noticing just how much widespread attention viral videos could receive, companies came running to their video production team with the task of creating their own viral video. This seemingly easy request has proved to be quite difficult…

In order to generate a viral video you must do the following.

  1. Give up branding. Millions of people won’t watch something that’s sales-y.
  2. Be patient to allow natural audience reach. By all means feel free to share the video on your channels, but don’t shove it in the faces of your audiences.
  3. Make the content original and entertaining (this is the most important step). Creativity is crucial to ensuring that people will watch it more than once and like it so much that they share with others.

Here are some successful viral advertisements.

  • Gulluscam by LG. The brand, LG, is not mentioned until the last seconds of the video. Leading viewers to believe that an “average Joe” posted the video. The subject, a chicken is the best method for camera image stabilization, is laughable and outrageous but compels viewers to watch.
  • Dove – Real Beauty Sketches. Pulling on the heartstrings of women, this video does an amazing job evoking emotion without shoving a brand or product in the viewer’s face.
  • Old Spice – The Mom Song. A short, funny music video sung by heartbroken mothers, Old Spice focuses on entertaining with original content.
  • Delta Airlines – 80’s In-Flight Safety Video. When’s the last time you really paid attention to the flight attendants? Delta directs their message to those looking to take a step down memory lane.

Do your videos have what it takes to become viral?