Viral used to be a word with negative connotations, now it's a quality brands across the globe strive to achieve with every new campaign. Marketers today strive to uncover the secrets to creating viral content, because for some brands -- like Dollar Shave Club -- one successful viral video was all it took to become a household name brand. These companies made going viral look easy, but in reality, achieving virality is far from simple.
To truly gain viral circulation, today's brands have to alter their content marketing philosophies and think like filmmakers. While investing in video content is the first step, brand marketers need go a step further to truly stand out from the crowd. Videos are the new normal; consumers around the world are bombarded with video content across platforms all day long, and because of this incessant exposure they've become expert at distinguishing (almost immediately) which videos are worthy of their views and shares.
Going viral is defined as "becoming very popular by circulating quickly from person to person especially through the internet." When a video goes viral, audiences do the work for brands -- sharing the content via Facebook, Twitter, and even, old-fashioned email threads. Last year's most-viral video, James Corden's Carpool Karaoke with Adele achieved 135.8 million views on YouTube.
If you're looking to produce the next Dove Real Women, Real Rewards campaign, or launch the next Old Spice Guy, there are a few measures you should take to best position your brand to achieve virality, including: identifying a unique angle, enticing viewers in the first moment, and immersing audiences in the experience.
Find a New Angle
U.S. adults spend over 10 hours consuming media across platforms each day. This degree of saturation means that coming up with original concepts is no small feat. The most successful viral videos are the ones that take audiences by surprise, either through humor, education, or emotional exploration.
Rather than wasting days, months, or even years trying to reinvent the wheel and come up with the most original idea, your time will be better spent by simply exploring real stories related to your brand. Take Nike's 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo video, The Switch, for example. This video gave Ronaldo and a young soccer hopeful the Freaky-Friday treatment.
Nike applied a relatively played out concept (switching places) and gave it a completely unique, on-brand twist. This video perfectly highlight one of Nike's biggest assets, which is its ability to invoke dreams; young athletes everywhere buy the same shirts and shoes as their favorite sports stars in the hope of one day reaching their level of success. Furthermore, it was also fun for audiences to watch a global superstar acting like a fish out of water.
Create a Strong Opening
The first moment in everything is always the one that counts the most. Think of the last online videos you watched; did the first moment bore you to tears or entice you to watch more? Today's audiences have short attention spans. Facebook audiences, on average, spend around 12-14 seconds viewing videos in their feeds; which means that brands creating content specifically for social audiences must deliver an immediate element to command viewers' attention spans before they scroll by. If you want to produce viral content, time is not necessarily on your side. Unlike other forms of media where you may have the luxury of time to gradually build excitement, when it comes to viral video if you lose viewers in the first few moments your video has little chance of success.
Immerse Your Audience
As video technology has grown increasingly sophisticated, so have consumer expectations. Digital audiences want to feel fully immersed in the content they are viewing, and many brands have started answering these calls through 360 degree videos and live streams. Facebook's top 360 degree video of 2016 was a video produced by ABC News showcasing NYC during the middle of a blizzard. The subject matter wasn't groundbreaking, but by choosing to shoot via 360, ABC transported its viewers around the globe to the middle of NYC, thus allowing them to experience a blizzard in the Big Apple for themselves. Gone are the days when audiences were satisfied with being mere third-party viewers, today they want to be a part of the excitement as it unfolds. Experimenting with live, VR, and 360 video angles can breathe new life into videos and give even the most straight-forward concepts a chance at virality.
Quite often, viral content often seems like lightning in a bottle. No company will ever be able to predict with 100 percent certainty how global consumers will react to content. However, by experimenting with cutting-edge storytelling techniques, exciting audiences in the first moment, and putting personalized spins on classic narratives, you, too, have the chance of going viral in 2017.