The Anatomy of a Viral Video

The content on your website or YouTube channel can be amazing, but if no one ever sees it, it’s not going to do you much good. To get your video marketing strategy on the fast track to success, you need to know what makes a video viral, and how you can make yours as contagious as possible. In this article I’ll share four principles of video virality that will have your videos going viral in no time!

Breaking Down the Anatomy of a Viral Video\

While we love to speculate about what makes viral videos so contagious, we don’t often dissect them to find out what made them catch on. In fact, most viral video makers aren’t trying to create a viral video—they just want to make something they think is funny or informative. It’s no surprise that those two motives frequently align with one another.

A compelling message and relatable characters are what help people connect with a video, and they also help drive people to share it with their friends. That said, there are some finer points you can use as you create your own content—the anatomy of a viral video—that may give you an edge over other creators.

Viral Element #1 - Story

To create an emotional bond with your viewers, you need to grab their attention and help them see themselves in your video. A good way to do that is through story-telling.

A video goes viral when it fits seamlessly into someone’s daily life. If you’re going to make a viral video, you need to remember that people only have so much time in their day and they won’t watch unless your content can fit neatly into an existing mental framework. That means creating a story people will want to share with friends over coffee, with colleagues at work, or even with strangers on social media.

The keyword is here is STORY.

If it works in the context of your video, try to focus on creating instant relatability through the art of storytelling.

Use an entertaining hook, like Doritos’ puppy commercial, or use social relevance, like OK Go’s backflip music video. Either way, you need to craft something original that connects emotionally with your viewers or they will tune out (and unsubscribe).

Viral Element #2 - Humor

The human brain is wired to react emotionally before thinking logically. From an evolutionary standpoint, we’re hardwired to be moved by things that catch our attention, which is why emotional videos—and not educational ones—are more likely to go viral. The video must elicit an emotional response from viewers in order for it to be shared and go viral. This may be something funny or cute, or something shocking or negative. In any case, strong emotion drives sharing and is one of several elements that contribute to virality.

The value of humor to companies and in marketing materials has received more attention in recent years. The recent boom in "Edutainment" (content that entertains while educating) is clear evidence that humor is an effective tool for motivating audiences.

Viral Element #3 - Strong Emotion

Perhaps one of the biggest components that makes or breaks a viral video is how it makes us feel. Emotion is an extremely important part of video marketing because it allows your audience to connect with you on an emotional level rather than simply paying attention to what you have to say.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that videos which cause strong emotions are more likely to go viral, although little research has been done on emotional engagement in online video.

Viral Element #4 - Easy to Follow

The next element which makes up an irresistible viral video is that it’s easy to follow. If people can’t understand what you’re saying, or if it takes too long for them to follow along, then they won’t come back. Many companies underestimate how long their videos need to be able to tell their story effectively.

The internet is incredibly impatient, and today users only want information right away without needing to wait for anything.
Keep it simple.
Keep it short.

In Conclusion

Viral videos are a great way to increase visibility and grow your business.  This is an industry that has really taken off over recent years. And if you have spent even half an hour surfing YouTube, you have likely come across something with millions of views. My hope for you in the future is that one of your videos can achieve this level of success. I hope you enjoyed this article and were able to find something useful here.

Thank you for reading!