YouTube Experts Spill Their Secrets to Creating Viral Videos

Posted in: Innovation

Is there a secret formula for getting your online video to go viral? During our trip to VidCon, a few experts shared their secrets for viral YouTube success.

If you share our internet addiction, chances are you have watched, shared or liked a viral online video. They pop up on your Facebook Newsfeed, your Twitter timeline, and even your 14-year-old cousin’s iPad (on repeat). And of course you can always tell a video’s gone viral when it ends up at the end of your grandma’s latest chain email.

Everyone seems to have their own collection of favorite viral videos — Harlem Shake? You can bet we recreated this hilarious dance routine in our own office. The Carrie Coffee Shop Prank? Gave us nightmares for weeks. What Does The Fox Say? We still can’t get that damn song out of our heads.

But aside from the fact that these videos are often hilarious, addicting to watch, or even downright shocking, what makes them so special? For starters, each has over 25 million YouTube views. In fact, ‘Gangnam Style,’ the most viewed YouTube video of all time, has over 2 BILLION views at the time this blog post was published.

We know what you’re thinking… “So a lot of people watched the video. So what?” Viral videos are actually one of the best ways that brands can create awareness around their company, as it puts their products and services in front of the eyes of thousands, if not millions, of new viewers. What many people also don’t realize is that many content creators on YouTube make ad money off of their videos based on how many views the video gets. For Psy, the creator of the smash viral video “Gangnam Style,” this earned him an estimated $2 million dollars. (Cue on the onslaught of people with video cameras trying to create their own viral video.)

But the truth of the matter is, for every video that has gone viral on YouTube, there are hundreds of thousands that have not. That’s not to say that these videos aren’t equally as entertaining, funny or outrageous. (And it definitely hasn’t stopped the top YouTube creators from trying to repeat their viral success.) Many YouTube videos simply don’t have that “secret sauce” that is needed to go viral.

While Hello Innovation was at VidCon last month—the largest online video conference in the world—we figured there was no better place to learn the ingredients that make up this ‘Viral Video Special Sauce’ than a convention full of the top YouTube creators. Here is what they had to say about creating a viral video of your own.

[youtube](Above is my personal favorite viral video of 2014 so far. When it comes to getting a video to go viral, you can never go wrong when you pair a national phenomenon—in this case, Disney's Frozen—with adorable little kids.)

What Kind Of Online Video Content Goes Viral?

When you look at a list of the most popular YouTube videos, you will definitely see a trend. Music videos, parodies, songs with corresponding dance moves, and more. During YouTube’s “Intentional Virality” panel, many experts agreed that there are some types of content that are simply more prone to go viral. They include:

Many YouTube experts also agreed that the packaging of a video is usually just as influential to its virality as content is. For instance, you should try to avoid overly clever or witty titles for your video, and instead focus on clarity. It should be clear in your video’s title what you are going to get.

It’s also important to have an engaging thumbnail that entices people to click on your video. “Titles and thumbnails are for people who are not in your core audience. Content is for everyone,” said Henry Reich, creator of the popular YouTube channel MinutePhysics. In order to attract people outside of your normal audience to your video, you need to appeal to them specifically in the way that you package your content.

What Comes After Creating The Video?

When it comes to a video going viral, the content of the video itself often has very little to do with how many people view it. Instead, it’s all about the initial lift that the video gets that eventually boosts it to virality. Therefore, one of the best things you can do for your video after you create it is to get it in front of the right community.

The best people to share your video with are usually the ones that will be equally as passionate and enthusiastic about your content, whether it’s a sub-community on Reddit that focuses on a particular topic (this was a popular tip from many YouTube veterans), or even a group of fellow YouTube content creators that make the same kind of videos that you do. It’s also helpful to contact your influencers and let them know when your new video is up.

If your video has to do with a topic that is currently in the news or is related to another YouTube video that is trending right now, you also want to make sure that you act quickly on your upload. Try to post your video the day after the event has ended, that way you can capitalize on people who are searching for information or recaps from the event.


What Does The Future Of Viral Videos Look Like?

While at VidCon, when we weren’t asking all of the top YouTube experts for their tips on making our next Hello Aerial video go viral, we also took the opportunity to ask what many of them saw in store for the future of online video, and whether or not there was an end in sight for all of those viral cat videos.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks, put it best when he said, “The opportunities ahead are so infinite. I still believe that this platform is still in its infancy.” Many experts also agreed that we are just starting to see a preference for quality video over a quantity of videos for the first time on YouTube, as well as an increase in collaboration between YouTube creators.

However, seeing Katzenberg up on stage at VidCon as one of the conference’s keynote speakers also confirmed one of the biggest upcoming trends in the world of online video — corporate brands and YouTube creators coming together in a way that has never been seen before to create content specifically for YouTube audiences.

Needless to say, there is a lot in store for the future of YouTube video, one viral video at a time.

Where do you see this platform heading in the future? Do you think YouTube will be able to compete with other popular video mediums, such as movies and television? Let us know in the comments below!


Featured image source: Portal A

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