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Make Your Videos More Likely to Go Viral

January 20, 2013
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225507

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the gold standard of marketing was to have an ad during the Super Bowl that people would talk about around the water cooler when they got to work the next day.

That last sentence is sort of like that old kid's game "How many things can you find wrong in this picture?" Let's see:

So, yes, the rules of marketing have changed, and radically. Why? It's the same thing that has changed everything from how books are sold to how health care is delivered: the Internet.

As a result, the gold standard of marketing today isn't the funny Super Bowl ad, but rather the viral video. Create one of those and you've struck Internet oil.

All of which, of course, begs the question: Can you make a viral video on purpose, or is it something that just happens naturally -- sort of like taking a video of your sons and posting it online with the title "Charlie Bit My Finger." Can you capture that magic and disseminate it on purpose?

Yes, it turns out you can.

Or maybe a more accurate analysis is that you can create the context for a video to go viral, give it your best shot, and then cross your fingers and hope your video is sprinkled with fairy dust.

Here's how:

Create the right sort of video

Why don't my small-business videos go viral? Because I didn't create them that way, nor did I intend for them to be viral videos. They are simple business how-tos on my site TheSelfEmployed. They serve their purpose.

Viral videos are different. Viral videos tend to fall into a few different categories. So if you want to create a video that might get spread around the Internet like the Ebola virus, the first thing to do is make sure yours fits one of these categories:

The first way to make that happen is by posting a video that cracks people up. How do you do that? That's your job, amigo -- I'm just sharing the process.

By the same token, larger companies have been able to get their videos to go viral because they have a budget to create a special effect that amazes at first sight, like an outfielder scaling a wall to catch a ball.

Post it right
Once you have the video, the trick is to choose a thumbnail that's captivating and a title that's intriguing.

Distribution
As indicated, having the right video is only a small part of the viral video game. There are tons of great videos out there that no one sees. So how do you get people to see yours? There are strategies large and small:

Finally, remember that viral videos tend to be short (three minutes or so) and make people feel something -- they laugh, they cry, they get mad, they worry. 

And then they share.