From the Video Boss Lab: How to Make Viral Weapons of Mass Persuasion

Even before I launched the Video Boss brand, people have constantly asked me how I’m able to come up with videos that hit home on my target audience. I’ve told a lot of people that the best way to hit a target is to bombard it from all angles. This is where viral marketing comes in.

Viral marketing, as you may guess from its name, is a type of campaign that relies on word of mouth to spread. Viral marketing triggers a certain something in people that makes them want to share your material and before you know it, you’ve become an overnight Internet celebrity. When I tell people this, the next question they ask is usually:

What is that “certain something?”

That certain something isn’t just one thing. It’s a nice blend of knowledge, strategy, creativity and luck. How do you come up with it? This is your lucky day because you’ll have a nice peek at the Video Boss lab and see what ingredients I use to generate these viral weapons of mass persuasion.

  1. Get out of your box – Playing it safe won’t cut it if you want to go viral. In the same way that you don’t find watching rocks and seagulls entertaining, people won’t find it cool to watch mundane videos. Forget about pleasing everyone for a while and focus on conceptualizing a story that will get people talking.

A great example of this would be Corning’s Life with Glass video. As you probably know, being a glass manufacturer isn’t as glamorous as being Nike or Hugo Boss, but the video proved that there’s so much more to what they have to offer than just plain, old boring glass. The video became a runaway hit with over 10.5 million views on YouTube to date. It did wonders for Corning’s brand and it entertained a lot of people along the way.

2. Emotions make people want to share – Few branding and advertising tools can match the overall effectiveness that emotions bring to the table. Making your audience feel an emotion opens their senses and makes recall easier. When a video triggers an emotion in a person, it gives the person a sense of connection and ownership with the clip. We all know how people love to talk about how they feel, and a video that triggers an emotion will most likely be shared by a member of your audience to his or her friends and social network.

The emotion can be anything: happiness, anger, disdain, sympathy – you name it and there’s bound to be a large number of people who can relate to it. The important thing is that the emotion elicited is in context with the video’s overall concept.

Legendary Japanese game maker Hideo Kojima put it best when he said that gaming (or any other form of media) is at its best when it’s able to make the recipient of the message feel an emotion. This means that the message has not only been delivered but it has been accepted. There’s a fine line between the two.

3. Allow easy access – When you want to capture people by the masses, the last thing you want to do is to drive them away with ads, opt-ins and registration forms. Think of it this way: people are doing you and your campaign a favor by showing the slightest interest in viewing your video. If you make the act of doing you a favor an unpleasant one, they’re likely to shut you out. Make their experience as easy as just pushing the “play” button when they see your vid.

4. Encourage sharing – It never hurts to grease the wheels a little, and the same is true for making your videos go viral. Have “Like” and “Tweet This” on the ready and highly visible next to the video. Having social bookmarking buttons for Digg, Reddit and Delicious can also help your cause.

5. Allow downloads and embedding – Since getting the most number of people possible to see the video is the main goal here, you should encourage the download and embedding of your video. This allows people to post it in their blogs, send the file to friends and generally to have fun with it. Nobody likes stingy, faceless corporations, so lighten up and let loose on your videos.

6. Be subtle with advertising – Very few people like watching commercials. Your viral video is not an ad and shouldn’t be made like one. It’s supposed to be a clip that people will find interesting and worthwhile. Advertising is secondary to that objective. A simple flash of a logo or a tag line at the end of the video will be quite enough. No need to force the issue and screw things up by getting greedy.

7. Come up with sequels –  If your first video is a hit, it’ll create a demand for a follow-up all by itself. Feed this demand by creating one. Sequels usually generate more buzz than their originals, which means more traffic and branding power for you.

Those are the steps to creating your own viral videos like a boss. Keep in mind that the nature of your online business is not and should not be a hindrance to how creative you can get. Always think of something that’s out of the box. Don’t be afraid to try what’s never been tried before. People usually don’t know what their capabilities are until they’re put into a situation where they have to put up or shut up, so go out there and show the world what you’ve got.

Until then,

Andy