When people tell you they want to create a viral video you can assume they have no clue what that means in terms of what it takes for something to create buzz, to trend. You can assume all they see is the end result and they come to you as they think you know what it takes to bring their message from point A to point B.
Buzz, i.e making something go viral, is the end product of a process. Its not a stand alone act. Video is just a componant in a complex process, that requires a lot more than just producing the video. The process requires understanding of human nature and how information flows on the web. Oh, and in my opinion, you should have a “social producer” in your team.
If you examine a viral process you can start taking him apart. The process has a beginning, middle and end. The beginning is known, the middle is somewhat known and the end is a total unknown. Each factor and component in the process should be in place at the right time, in the right mass and in a velocity that suits. There are different aspects of production, relationships, money, time, commitment, technology, media distribution, awesome idea, a kickstarter, public relations and another unknown variable to be added to the equation (I added a video that talks about this unknown variable below). Bottom line, it all comes down to thinking about everything in advance.
So, what does it take to go viral?
1 – Your message, keep it simple.
Complex messages don’t pass. They do not pass because the public can not cope with complex messages (assume the public is lazy) and the medium or media can not carry complex messages.
2 – Work in teams.
One can perhaps come up with a neat idea but no one person can start an end-to-end “buzz process” and certainly not a process that aims to converge masses and ideas to action. In this process you have to have a group of people with and around you, each going in a different direction, and by that a scattering effect is created. Another option is that everyone goes the same direction and together you form a concentrated thick “beam of light”.
3 – Ambassadors.
Ambassadors are people that carry your message on to their communities. They are the most important part in the process and they examine how good your idea is and how good your team is. Your ambassadors, your “early adopters”, provide you with a valuable reality check, an examination of your message and process.
4 – Make it very easy to share.
This is actually the easiest one. You should assume that the crowd has a lazy finger. Make the sharing buttons jump out. Place the video (or whatever else you do) in the most trivial place. Your presentation should be very simple. Write less and show more. If you could summarize everything in an infograph, don’t write a blog post. Produce your videos to be no longer than a minute and a half , be careful of creating something boring, remove obstacles before the crowd hit them, be careful not to get your audience TURNED-OFF.
5 – Invest in PR.
You must be thinking : “I invested in the ambassadors, that’s the PR”. Mmmm, no. We’re in the final stages now. PR will help you move the conversation from the social arena to the traditional media, and thus reach even more people that were not reached on the social networks and by that it will create more posts to the social networks and more people talking about your thing. PR will help you improve results, whether its the number of views or in the conversion itself. PR will enable you to stream good traditional media in your circulation of pages, profiles and channels on the web. Traditional media tends to carry the messages its given, it’s worth gold for you. And speak to bloggers, they are your immediate crowd, they are your early adopters, they are your carriers.
6- Be ready.
Prepare all this in advance and only then begin the process. If you do this step by step (The “we’ll cross the bridge when we get to it” is a disaster waiting to happen) you’ll probably fall at least once. If you prepare everything in advance, no matter what happens, at least you’ll ready, so whatever happens, you won’t need to improvise a lot.