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GO Viral – 10 tips to make your video go viral

by Melissa Martens, Fig Media Inc.

1. “There is no spoon.” The Matrix

Videos that go viral range from home movies to highly produced commercials and movies by big studios. The truth is there is no formula. There are steps you can take to make sure your video gets out there and there is no formula for why they catch on like wildfire. Getting your video to go viral is not a strategy it is an outcome. Knowing that is the first step.

2. “You had me at Hello.” Jerry Maguire.

Content that grabs you. The number one reason a video goes viral is because it has great content and people enjoy passing it around.  The first 10 seconds are crucial. Your potential audience is smart and fast to click onto the next big thing. Make a series that helps you build momentum. The first one may not hit, but having more than one video increases your chances of getting picked up.

3. “It is easier and cheaper to make changes on paper than it is in post production.” Melissa Martens, Pre-production.

Spend the time in pre-production getting clear on your objectives. Write a script. Make a “paper” edit. The clearer you are before you shoot, they better your director will be able to give you what you want.  Re-shooting and editing is expensive.

4.  Casting. Who is in your video is just as important as your content. Select your person/persons based on your goals, target audience and desired outcome. Select from a wide range of people. Host video auditions.  Then talk about each person and how they communicate your message.

5. “I’ve got moves you’ve never seen.” My Best Friend’s Wedding.

Production/Post-production. Have fun and play. Once your plan is laid out, you have the guidelines to work in. Film outtakes and keep the camera rolling. You never know what spontaneous outrageous thing will happen in-between takes. Sometimes the outtakes turn out to be more effective then the piece… don’t miss the opportunity to capture it.

6. “Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just do things.” The Joker, The Dark Knight.

Distribution. Where is your video going to go? What is most effective to communicate to your audience? Blasting it out to all networks without a clear vision of who you want to watch is like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.

7.  “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” The Usual Suspects

Don’t hit people over the head with your brand. If your audience thinks it’s a commercial they might get turned off.

  • Stride gum sponsored a video blogger to travel around the world doing his goofy dance. Matt started his own blog for fun to keep in touch with his family and friends as he traveled the world. Stride gum saw something unique and took the opportunity. The “Where the Hell is Matt?” Campaign spread like wildfire across the internet and was not revealed to be sponsored by stride gum until after it got big. Matt then told his story on talk shows and at events revealing his sponsor. Stride gave Matt complete creative freedom to make his film, and it paid off big time for stride gum in the end. After the reveal, stride gum then launched the campaign on their website. (http://www.wherethehellismatt.com/)

8. “Nobody calls me chicken.” Back to the Future.

Interactive. Viral videos that are invite the viewer to not only watch the ad but to actually participate in it. Allowing your viewer to engage in an activity during the video can help make it that much more memorable.

  • In 2004 Burger King released a viral video as a part of their “Have it your way” campaign. The video was suitably named subservient chicken for it featured a man in a chicken suit that would obey commands typed to it by the viewer. We passed this one around quite a bit…it was hella fun.  (http://www.bk.com/en/us/campaigns/subservient-chicken.html)

9. “I’ll have what she’s having.” When Harry Met Sally.

Use your social networks, blogs, fan pages, facebook, twitter, linked in, websites, e-blasts and have your staff use their network and pass your video around.

10.  “There is no place like home.” The Wizard of Oz.

Your video should ultimately live on your homepage, front and center. To make the connection between the campaign and your brand. Direct traffic to your homepage and have a reason why people are there. Offer something for signing up to get the next video.

Melissa Martens is a filmmaker for Fig Media, Inc. You can contact her at [email protected] and follow her at http://twitter.com/takeupreal.

For more info on Fig Media, visit their website at www.figgy.net or catch up with them on their blog, www.figgy.net/blog