5 ways to make your video viral

With Adobe Creative Week taking place we thought it might be useful to sketch out a few ideas we’ve gathered for those attempting to boost their chances of creating one of those ever-elusive viral videos.

There’s no doubt that viral video is effective: from individual animation and movie creative to marketing and sales pitches, if you can push your video above the public perception parapet you can make money, wield influence and build your name.

However, the sad truth is that even with the best advice in the world it’s ever so hard to predict what works and what doesn’t. It’s best to think of it as trying to create a hit single – some you win, some you, well, some you don’t win. Success is unpredictable so here are some tips to maximize your chances.

Vegan Black Metal Chef:Β This uniquely different cooking guide has attracted nearly two million views so far: why? Its simple message and humorous approach keeps people engaged all the way through.Β 


Simplicity is sexy. Over-complex ideas don’t necessarily match the ADHD tendencies of the digital generation. Just because you have hours of video assets on your virtual cutting room floor doesn’t mean you have to use them all. You need to get to the point fast using images, music and audio that adds to, rather than detracts from, the impact of the presentation. Do you really need that corporate logo in the top right of the view?

Simplicity demands structure. You need to keep your simplicity defined and your story progressive (and engaging) from the first frame if you want to capture the viewer. That also includes the key frame — how many potentially cool video clips have you seen in which the impact has been ruined by a poor choice of static frame, i.e. the frame you see before you hit ‘Play’?

Evolution of dance: Lovingly crafted and ever so slightly amusing, this clip’s attracted just under 200 million viewers so far.


Call it passion, honesty, even integrity if you want. Keep your message focused on what you’re trying to say and put some character inside the presentation.

Character can be you, a chosen performer, or even the quirky individualistic nature of the concept behind the video itself. Don’t compromise with what’s been done before — if you want to make it viral then you need to blaze your own trail. Viewers respond to sincerity.

Viewers also respond to a catchy title. The video makers at Seedwell point to three thematic categories that often work in the viral space:

  • Parody
  • Cuteness
  • Surprise

Authenticity is part of this. You need the video to be believable. If it does include an ad you should include it as an afterthought. That may sound counter-intuitive when it comes to the cost of the project – but the online world is all about reputation, a reputation for producing good or amusing material beats a reputation for doing that while pushing your marketing message.

Hotels.com: Over a million viewers have watched this clip that shows a skydiver using his smartphone to book his hotel as he falls to the beach outside the place he plans to stay at.


The Holy Grail of viral videolism (a new word) is if you produce something that’s newsworthy in itself.

  • Hotels.com got some media attention when it ran a clip showing a skydiver jumping out of his plane to land on the beach outside the hotel he booked on his smartphone while making the jump.
  • Google did something a little similar when it used skydivers to punch home the message of Google Glass last month.
  • Then there’s the ever-emerging crop of clips in which iPads and other Apple objects are blended, shot at, run over or otherwise mangled for fun and entertainment.

Parodies of popular TV shows and huge doses of tongue-in-cheek humour also help — but remember the Internet is international, so try to avoid presenting localized humour if you’re chasing an international audience. Just because everyone in the UK thinks something is funny doesn’t necessarily tickle the funny bone of your potential viewers in Kazakhstan, for example.

Ted Rose: This soothing clip comes from an independent UK video artist with a reputation for originality and original expression.

Creativity and daring-do

Sometimes it’s about doing things that have never been done before. Moving boldly forward to explore new worlds, if you like.

  • Hotels.com (above) showed what daring do can do to drive a message home.
  • Completely independent UK artist, Edward Rose plays with art, old print images and his musical skills to create some quite mesmerising pieces, the most popular of which has been seen over seven million times.

It isn’t enough just to do something new for the sake of it, to get the best results what’s happening must also possess some passion and integrity.

Why you choose to do it this way must be clearly related to the message. If you need to explain it, you’ve already lost. It’s the passion thing (above).

Self-talk: Published earlier this month this clip’s already attracted just under six million viewers. The idea’s pretty hard to emulate — it features video captured 20 years ago by the artist.

Timing and originality

If you aim to do something topical, then you need to develop news sense — the ability to present your clip at the best possible time for the topic.

Originality helps as well — there’s no point copying other peoples’ ideas if you want to make something that’s viral: there’s a big difference between emulation and inspiration. The above clip’s completely original, featuring a conversation between the 32-year old video maker spliced into a video he filmed of himself 20-years ago.

So there you have it, a few ideas which might help aspiring creatives deliver that viral clip they’re working towards. Do you have anything you’d like to add to this conversation? If so please let us know in comments below.

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About Neeley Casserly, Dreamtek.

Group Marketing Director Dreamtek UK & UAE and The Virtual Forge Connect with Neeley and Dreamtek on Google+

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