A viral video is not just a term on every marketer’s wish list. It is also a phenomenon which has deeper cultural implications and shows a lot about how we connect to content through the web.
The very latest surprise video to hit the viral list is that of a three-year-old toddler from Leicestershire, UK, by the name of Sofya Dickson has scored over a quarter million views in less than 48 hours and has made the toddler and her bemused family the center of local and international news coverage.
With hundreds of sites (including this one now), all over the web, giving it coverage it’s worth examining just what it takes to have a video go viral:
Step One: Provide a Surprise
Whether your video is a slickly produced multi-million dollar production or a home-made one shot on your smartphone you need to produce something which is fresh and surprising. Rip-offs of existing themes, tired, old re-hashes and the ‘same old, same old’ stuff rarely goes beyond a few dozen views.
In this particular case we have a three-year-old toddler, doing something remarkable (she’s climbing a doorframe in true Parkour ninja style) at an age when most can barely walk.
Step Two: Make Your Video Inspiring
Having a video that hits the surprise note is not going to be enough if it cannot then go one step further and resonate with the aspirations of your audience. Visual is a language that crosses the language barrier and global video hits have managed to find common ground with global audiences from different cultures and backgrounds because they consistently connect with the basic drives of the human condition: hope, excitement, the aspiration to be better than we are, the need to believe in something exceptional and the possibility that this, also, can be fun, are all elements which are found in every person on the planet.
Sofya’s mantra of “I can do it, I can do it” as she scales up a doorframe is nothing more than the human spirit soaring against the impossible and, incredibly, succeeding. This is exactly what a global audience wants to be made to feel.
Step Three: Make it Endearing
We are firmly, here, upon the territory of children and animals and the admonition of seasoned thespians and TV personalities to never work with either. At the very heart of that admonition lie two primal elements: unpredictability and cuteness. Both children and animals tend to bring the ‘aaaawwww’ factor out in us and their behaviour is usually totally unexpected (which adds significantly to Step #1 and the ‘Surprise Factor’).
You do not necessarily need to have either children or animals to make your video go viral of course, provided you can find a way to make it unpredictable and a little cute (and in case you think this is a tall order you totally need to check out the video at the DollarShaveClub).
Step Four: Make it Entertaining
In the case of Sofya Dickson the entertainment factor was inadvertent and this is true of most videos featuring children and animals. But that does not mean you cannot plan a video to make it entertaining in the first place. (And you do remember, I hope, the Old Spice video ad).
Put those four elements together in one short video and you will find that going viral is much, much easier than you may think.
And now that we know all this let’s go and see what the fuss is all about (totally worth it!)