The Secret to Making Anything Go Viral

Creating a ‘viral video’ is like setting out to produce ‘an Oscar-winning film.’

You can look back at some of the most-shared videos, trying to fathom some sort of recipe for success, but if you try to replicate those vital ingredients your video will most likely feel flat and formulaic. If a movie producer tries too hard to re-create an award-winning film, putting together a big budget, an epic storyline, some top names, it can still be a flop. What movie-goers want is passion, great acting and a sense that everyone involved loved what they were doing: they want to feel something. Movies that make people feel something win awards. Videos too must speak to a brand’s followers if they are to be shared.

Content is shared because it provokes an emotional response

Two University of Pennsylvania professors analyzed the New York Times’ most-emailed list, and came up with a list of factors that contributed to content going viral. They discovered that posts inspiring feelings of awe, anger or anxiety are shared more often than others. Now, businesses will want to stay away from inducing anger in their audience, but awe clearly works well, if it is appropriate to the brand, and humor is another strong emotion that is safe for brands to play with. For brands, making people gasp in astonishment or laugh out loud are safe and popular goals.

But the material to inspire these emotions has to be original. Once something has been done before, move on: don’t imitate. Think back to your company’s history, your company’s mission, why your loyal customers love you – and draw from that. Continue reading

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