What makes a viral video?

When a video becomes
viral it means that it has gained its popularity through internet sharing,  including email sharing,
social media and video sharing sites such as Youtube.

Successful viral videos
are often humorous, such as The Lonely Island’s ‘Lazy Sunday’ sketch from
Saturday Night live. They can range from being TV sketches, internet only
productions or simply events caught on camera by eye witnesses.

The key element of any viral video is content. It must be
fresh, relevant and unexpected.  If a
video is being used for promotion it should make creativity a priority over
advertisement as this is vital to any viral video. The content should appeal to
the audience you are trying to target, make it speak to them by covering a
topic that interests them and use language they are familiar with. The best
viral videos cover topics that are discussable and relatable, showing something
shocking or surprising that evokes a strong emotion compelling viewers to share

Videos with strong viral appeal often include or reinforce a
positive message acting as a call to action, encouraging viewers to share it. A
good example of this is Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ which was aimed at a female
audience, encouraging them to challenge their views of their own bodies. The
video ‘Kony 2012’ by Invisible Children Inc. contained a powerful message
asking viewers to share the video to raise awareness of the plight of children
kidnapped and forced to fight in Joseph Kony’s guerrilla army. ‘Kony 2012’ has
since become the most viral video in history with over 99,000,000 views (May

It is important to optimise your video for online access and
sharing. Studies have found that most viral videos are shorter in length as web
users generally have less time and a shorter attention span with regards to
watching content online. Choosing an eye catching title and thumbnail for your
video will also help to make it searchable and easily identifiable, important
ingredients for videos that go viral.

To get a compelling, relevant video to make the jump to
viral status, you need to get it in front of the right audience. Viral videos
are shared by digital influencers and taste makers like popular celebrities
with large bases of followers. Once they share a video, it is then curated by
other users. An important process in sending a video viral, as people are more
likely to click on and watch a video if it has been shared by a favourite
blogger or friend.

As a video’s hits begin to rise, a mob mentality takes hold
and web users are more likely to spend their time watching a video that has a
large amount of views. This is because they assume the video is worth watching
if other users before them have chosen to spend their time watching it. To
begin gaining this momentum some businesses decide to use paid for advertising
such as Youtube promoted videos or Facebook ads.

Ultimately, it is impossible to ensure that a video achieves
viral success. Even if you have incorporated all of the key ingredients, the
video still relies on its viewers to take it to a viral level. To see the latest viral videos check out Unruly Media’s Viral Video chart!