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Social Media Videos that Go Viral: 11 Secret Ingredients

Oct 25, 2021 3:13:12 AM

Social Media Videos that Go Viral: 11 Secret Ingredients

There’s a very good chance you have watched this video ad of Old Spice:


Originally published in 2010, this "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" ad has had several "viral" moments over the past decade. It made a deep cultural impact at the time in an otherwise traditional advertising world.

This Dollar Shave Club ad is another classic example of an ad going viral:


Right after this ad, Dollar Shave Club gained 12,000 new subscribers (for its product) within one day. And in 2016, Unilever acquired this company for $1 billion. 

So, it makes sense you want your videos to go viral as well. It can literally change the fortune of your company, unlocking unimaginable growth opportunities and success. 

But here’s a problem: There’s no defined rule to get “viral”. In fact, almost 99 percent of social media videos will never get viral.

So, the task at hand is incredibly difficult.

However, the good news is you can take cues from viral videos on social media, understand what worked for them, jot down all the points in a “rule book”, and then create videos accordingly. Learning from others who have succeeded already is the best way to go about this; it increases your chances of getting viral.

To help you get started on the right track and create one such rule book, here are 11 ingredients that make social media videos go viral:

1. They stir positive emotions

Viral videos on social media stir emotions in the audience, which results in people liking and sharing them.

However, you don’t want to lean in “any” emotion.

Yes, negative media does get more impressions and clicks. But that works best only in the news world. When you’re looking to build a strong brand, you want to build it around positive emotions like empathy and kindness. 

A video that can make the audience feel happy, warm, excited, and surprised is more likely to get viral.

Think of the last viral video from any brand that you watched. How did it make you feel? What emotions did it stir that made you like that video?

So, make sure your social media videos have positive messaging.


2. They perform excellently in the first two days

The social media viral videos do great in driving traction in the first two days, which builds its “virality”, propelling its impressions and engagement.

Here’s what the Harvard Business review quips “The more shares a video generates during the first two days after launch, the higher the viral peak and the greater the overall volume of shares.”

So, the first 48 hours are very critical. You need to create a thoughtful video launch campaign that aims to gain as many views in the first two days as possible. This can include running paid ads, approaching influencers to share your video, and publishing press releases. 


3. They have the right amount of humor 

This isn’t exactly the case with all viral videos on social media, but it is with the majority! 

A part of the reason why these videos get shared more and win mainstream attention is that they are humorous. The message makes people laugh and enjoy.

Admittedly, not all your social media videos ought to be humorous. And more importantly, integrating humor into your content can be a big challenge.

But if you can find opportunities to make your videos fun and with a good laugh, it can help your case in getting viral.


4. They are a part of a (relatable) story

There’s nothing more powerful in marketing than a relatable story. If people can relate to your message, many of them will take the desired action.

This is what viral social media marketing videos do exceptionally well. They tell enticing stories that the audience can relate to. This builds a connection between that brand and the audience, leading to higher engagement and inevitable conversion.

Make sure your videos have elements of storytelling. Using animation can be very effective here. An animated social media video can tell a visually engaging story in a more impactful and relatable way.

So, connect with a renowned services provider, work with their team and create your first social media marketing animated video that tells a great story. 


5. They are visually striking

Whether it’s a live-action video, animation, or a combination of both (mixed media), almost every viral video of a brand you will see is visually striking.

They grab attention almost instantly and keep the audience glued with their visuals (and sound design.)

So, if you want your social media videos to go viral, one of the essentials of that is visual appeal. The video should look good and be striking in visuals. If not, nothing else will work. 

With an animated social media video, you can achieve this rather easily. Animation is usually attention-grabbing that can stand you out from the crowd visually, enhancing your chances of going viral.


6. They have a universal appeal

Do you think every person who watches and shares Nike’s viral videos purchases their products? Very unlikely!  

Many brand-driven viral videos don’t always have a targeted approach. Instead, they are universal, aiming to appeal to even those outside their target personas. This is the reason why Nike doesn’t make videos on shoes, Coca-Cola doesn’t talk about soft drinks and Dove doesn’t talk about soaps.

The viral video ads of these top brands are universal in nature with broader messaging. This allows them to gain more impressions and thereby the “virality”.

So, when creating videos that you want to go viral, make sure it has a wider appeal that wows even those who aren’t exactly your target audience.


7. They are in sync with the reality

The brand-driven viral videos on social media aren’t built on thin or fantasy topics. They are grounded to reality, addressing real issues, pain points, or circumstances of people. (This is one of the elements that build relatability.)

Their subject or topic is practical and something that people know and understand.

As such, the core message of your social media videos shouldn’t be fictitious either. It should be in sync with reality so that people care about it and pay attention. This is important to initiate the snowball effect and gain more likes/shares as the hours pass. 


8. They are part of the “moment”

Many viral social media marketing videos are a result of topical marketing.

For instance, if the world is talking about Super Bowl, bridging that topic with your brand through a video can lead to the “virality” you’re looking for. If the messaging of the video is appropriate and has entertainment or educational value, it will instantly gain higher visibility and more shares. 

So, do get together with your team to create an integrated video and topical marketing strategy. Make sure the video is relevant to the topic of the moment the world is talking about.


9. They talk “to” people and “at” them

Viral social media videos are usually engaging. They are positioned as a two-way conversation with the audience. Meaning, the protagonist of the video talks directly to the people watching it.

This approach wherein people are talked to and not “at” builds a rapport between them and the brand. The two-way communication builds a connection between them. This often translates into higher likes and shares. 

So, when creating a video, make sure your message isn’t conveyed in a generic way to a broader audience. It should be aimed at individuals like you’re talking to one person. 


10. They don’t over-promote

With many examples of brand-driven viral videos, you will notice a lack of promotion. Even videos that talk about a certain product, you might not find a ‘buy now’ prompt at the end. 

This is one of the key secrets of creating a viral video.

It’s unlikely people will like and share a sales-heavy video, unless it’s truly outstanding, as was the case with Dollar Shave Club. They don’t want a video that’s trying to sell them something; instead, they want a piece of content that provides them an entertaining experience or utility value.

Remember, getting viral is an ideal opportunity to increase brand awareness and not exactly to sell. 

Avoid over-promotional videos if you want them to go viral.


10. They aren’t the first video

As mentioned earlier, there’s no defined rule in this game. So, how and when your videos can get viral is uncertain and nobody has answers for that.

The brands whose videos went viral, those videos in question weren’t exactly their first piece of content or their first attempt to getting viral. Even before that, they have published tens and hundreds of videos until they finally hit the jackpot. 

This means consistency is the key. Understanding that your first or tenth video won’t get viral is very important. You have to keep the efforts ongoing until it happens, and then continue even then.

Once your brand starts getting more prominence and once you have more attention (and trust), the chances of going viral compound. (There’s a reason why every video of top brands gets viral; that’s because they have more attention and trust.)


Final Words

These are 11 secret ingredients of viral videos. Include them in your own videos and you can unlock the same traction.

But that said, understand that getting “viral” should never be the end goal. It’s a good-to-achieve goal that you’re okay with even if you don’t achieve it.

Your overall video marketing and social media marketing strategies should be tied to driving realistic results and not “let’s hope this one gets viral”.

Good luck!

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