Getting a Video to Go Viral

Getting a Video to Go Viral

Here is the bad news about viral videos: The odds of going viral are far lower than the odds of winning the Super Bowl. Only 1 out of 32 NFL teams—and only 53 out of 1,696 players—will hoist the Lombardi Trophy this year. Yet Search Engine Journal reports the odds of a video receiving over a million views "are about 1 in 1,000, which are also the odds of cracking open an egg with a double yolk."

Now the good news: It's not just about luck, and even if you "lose" you're a winner. Hard work and insightful strategy make it more likely that you'll get that 1 in 1,000 result, but good video content will be an invaluable asset in any case. It will give you better reach, better messaging, and better opportunities to gather leads.

Let's go to the practice field and build the muscles, skills, and strategies you need to win, then we'll talk about how to make that viral moment more likely.

Building a Strong Video Practice

Get Started Today—Even if your video content is imperfect, you'll be exercising the right creative and production muscles, meeting your customers where they are, and increasing your reach:

  • The average user engages with online video for 19 hours per week.
  • Posts on X (formerly known as Twitter) that use video receive ten times more engagement.
  • A billion videos a day are viewed on Pinterest alone.
  • Social media isn't the only place to see video benefits; including video on your website improves SEO.

Consider what your messaging and metrics will be—A full discussion of this is beyond the scope of this article, but planning out the message you want to focus on and the way you'll measure and define success is an essential step that saves time and money later.

Focus on serving the customer—There's a place for entertainment (as we'll see below) but not for the hard sell. Helpful and informative will beat flashy and salesy over the long haul.

Be prepared to spend—Getting video right can require hiring outside help or making a significant investment of time and funds to develop the proper skills in-house.

Laying the Ground To Go Viral

Keep it short—The most shared and viewed videos tend to be under three minutes, and a 2020 study by the USC Marshall School of Business found that 72 and 102 seconds was optimal. If you have to go longer, keep it to the minimum length you need to cover your chosen subject or story.

Include branding late in the video—Another fact the Marshall study found: Viewers were less likely to share videos that showed the brand name of the business early. Though there are exceptions (see the case of Blendtec below), when the brand appears late, viewers feel they're sharing an entertaining story or helpful content, not an advertisement.

Use humor or emotion—Many of the most successful videos are shared because they make viewers laugh, are touching, or inspire. In their tests, the USC Marshall team found that "Positive emotions of amusement, excitement, inspiration, and warmth positively affect sharing."

Informative content should be a high priority so you serve your audience well, but going viral will usually require an entertaining approach.

Consider the Blendtec method—Is there some humorous or visually dramatic way to demonstrate how effective your product is? Blendtec, a Utah blender manufacturer, produced a series of Will it Blend? videos from 2006 to 2020. The videos were simple but entertaining, showing how tough Blendtec's products were as company founder Tom Dickson obliterated non-food items like iPhones, Star Wars toys, car key fobs, and Bic lighters.

AI is an amazing technology and may change everything about the way we live. But there are serious downsides to leaning too heavily on it for marketing content.

As of late 2023:

  • The channel's videos have been viewed over 290 million times.
  • The first Will It Blend? video, in which Dickson blended marbles, has been viewed 7.3 million times.
  • Their iPad video has 19 million views, with glow sticks and golf balls clocking in at 12 and 7.9 million, respectively.

Why were the videos so effective?

  • The concept and presentation embody simple, family-friendly humor, and have nearly endless possibilities.
  • The question "will it blend?" opens a story loop in the viewer's mind, and the demonstration delivers a satisfying answer.
  • The also has novelty bordering on the bizarre: When's the last time you saw someone stick a rake handle in a blender?
  • The videos are short; most are just over a minute long.

The results? "Will it Blend has had an amazing impact to our commercial and our retail products," Dickson reported in 2009, just three years into the campaign. Its success led to appearances on the Tonight show and in commercials for other companies. In addition to selling many more machines, Blendtec was even able to market Will It Blend? merch, including "Tom Dickson is my homeboy" T-shirts.

Interested in using video but not sure how to get the most from it? Get in touch with Cain & Company for help building a compelling, strategic video practice that boosts your bottom line..

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