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7 Steps to Viral Video Success

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7 Steps to Viral Video Success

7 Steps to Viral Video Success


Amateur and professional marketers produce countless videos each year to reach their target audience. Producing successful marketing videos that increase visibility and advance sales is challenging. As you know, millions of consumers visit YouTube, Vimeo and VEVO to get their viral video fix. Some argue that Voltz’s and Grobe’s diet cola experiment, which achieved more than 16 million views since June 14, 2006 revolutionized digital marketing.

How do you create viral videos that persuade consumers to purchase goods and services? (Usborne) According to Nielsen’s 2012 Consumer Media Usage Report, more than “211 million Americans” consume media online. Nielsen’s findings support the value of using viral videos to gain market share in today’s economy. Marketing professionals can no longer afford to view viral videos as experimental, but as an integral part of their strategic marketing effort. The seven steps that follow provide detailed instructions on how to create successful viral videos.

Seven Steps to Viral Video Success

1. Investigate

2. Imitate

3. Innovate

4. Integrate

5. Illustrate

6. Initiate

7. Infiltrate

Step 1 – Investigate

The first step is to investigate viral videos that have achieved notoriety in the marketplace. Identify the most popular videos that can be replicated without compromising your company’s core values and beliefs, but also convey a clear message about your products and services. It may be necessary to index each video and the ideas that connect the video to your target audience. Do take a week or two to research successful viral videos. Do not simply follow the crowd and choose to emulate the video with the most views.

Step 2 – Imitate

The second step is to create innovative concepts even imitating others. You may find yourself on a path to creating something truly imaginative by imitating two or three concepts and adding something new. It is possible to create a new viral video experience by adding unique elements to another’s work that will set it apart from the original. Do draw general themes from award-winning viral videos. Do not simply copy and produce.

Step 3 – Innovate

After you’ve discovered a viral video that you would like to replicate, it’s time to move on to step three. Use innovative ideas that will add value to the viewers’ experience. For example, Harvard Baseball’s 2012 Call Me Maybe Cover achieved 17,350,827 views in February 2013. Several schools since have created their own renditions of the team’s coveted performance. Those that changed the Call Me Maybe soundtrack or added distinct dance moves to their routines became standouts. Texas State reached an impressive 3,358,424 viewers on February 21 2013. Here is a link to the original Harvard Baseball 2012 Call Me Maybe Cover and several responses that parodied this video, which can be viewed in the Top 5 Call Me Maybe Videos playlist. The goal for the innovator is to create a better sequel. Do make creative sequels. Do not make unimaginative sequels.

Step 4 – Integrate

Step four is to integrate as many memes as possible in your video without losing your message. “A ‘meme‘ is a virally-transmitted symbol or idea that transcends cultural groups (Gil). In the Harvard Baseball 2012 Call Me Maybe Cover, memes could be the song or Harvard Baseball’s arm crossed fist to headliner signature move. The message attached to your merchandise or service must never be compromised. If the meme does not match the message… move on. Do integrate your message carefully. Do not let your memes become your message.

Step 5 – Illustrate

The fifth step is to clearly communicate your story from concept to completion. A simple storyboard and a strong script with camera direction will go a long way toward sharing your vision with the talent and camera operator. These illustrations are no substitute for memorizing your pitch and presenting your concept in a clear and cohesive manner. If you are not sure which direction you are traveling, how can you expect others to follow? Do write a script with blocking and camera direction. Don’t make it up as you go along.

Step 6 – Initiate

Before initiating the encoding process in your video editor, change export settings to 30fps. Record at 1920x1088p and render at 1280x720p in H.264. YouTube will transcode your video several times before it reaches the end-user in SD, HD, HDTV… and every other file format meant for mobile device distribution. Generation loss is unavoidable. Some will argue that 24fps is more cinematic, don’t be fooled. 30fps offers a better picture quality (more frames = clearer picture). That awe inspiring cinematic effect can be achieved by shooting a shallow depth of field with a 70-200. If you’re a Vimeo fan then you’ve discovered that the compression guidelines are far less restrictive. Although Vimeo will convert your file far more efficiently, the tradeoff is often revealed in file views. This is where you must determine if Bill Gate’s pronouncement is true. Is content king? If it isn’t, it’s important to remember that Vimeo’s transcoding is far superior to YouTube’s. That said, Vimeo’s critical mass still pales by comparison to YouTube’s and is therefore viewed by many as a lesser distribution channel. No matter how visually arresting your video may be, poor authoring can make your video unviewable. Do take time to carefully determine what will be included in the description and tags. Do not publish and edit.

Step 7 – Infiltrate

Seven, carefully market your videos on relevant social media sites. Find creative ways to infiltrate channels with similar content. Build relationships with other content providers and reciprocate when appropriate. Clever marketers find ways to infiltrate video websites (Gill). It’s also important to post your video at times when traffic is optimal. Post to YouTube Wednesday and Thursday mornings, Monday through Friday at noon to Facebook and tweet at 8 a.m. or 5 p.m. Most consume social media at meal time… a la carte. Use catchy titles, clever descriptions and clear meta-tags. Do post video responses to blogs, playlists and social media channels that link to your site. Do not post impulsively.

If you investigate, imitate, innovate, integrate, illustrate, initiate and infiltrate, your video will have a greater chance of going viral. Remember true viral success is measured by conversions… and not by views. If you’ve increased your company’s sales and your clients can’t stop raving about your cool new video, you have achieved your goal. Increased visibility is irrelevant if it is independent of increased market share.

by E. Mendoza


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