The Psychology of: “How Videos Go Viral”

A viral video spreads like an infectious disease throughout  media, TV shows, the internet and directly into the hands of mobile phone users.  This happens for few a reasons which you’re about to discover.

Why Videos Go Viral

Content of a Viral Video are usually…

strange,  shocking, wildly humorous, racy, sexy, a painful moment, or of death and destruction.
Those elements make the content easy to share with others because they have the, “YOU MUST SEE THIS!” factor.
Lets examine the following screen shot of a viral video  with almost two million views in the time frame of just three days.
BBC Nature: 'Brinicle' ice finger of death filmed in Antarctic
This video has the following sharable factors.
It’s unusual – an underwater tornado – very cool and extremely rare to see.  Mix in a little death and destruction and you’ve just doubled the share factor. Add in some TV exposure (a.k.a a bit of marketing), and you have a recipe for a viral video. The title has the word death in it.  People love to see death and destruction.
Get  A Viral Video and You’ll Retire

From a business standpoint, companies may try to artificially add in some of the ingredients listed above to make a viral video.  Very few videos go viral, nor should they.  The kind of videos which do go viral are mostly entertaining for the viewer and have no intention to sell a product or service.
I know I know, you just want the video to create massive exposure for your brand/product and everything else will fall in place.
Sure, some people might learn about a product or service they didn’t know about before, but have no need or want to run out and buy after seeing the video.
Can Viral Videos Sell More Products?
Maybe, but in my opinion TV commercials and online videos which aim for the viral effect waste more money than they generate.  The Old Spice commercials may have an entertainment factor to them but how effective do they work?  I haven’t seen them use that approach for awhile.
Companies as big as Old Spice have the money to produce and promote such commercial to keep the “top of mind” effect for current Old Spice users. Same thing with many of the beer commercials. For businesses, it’s more expensive gaining customers than keeping them.
Should you aim to make a viral video?
I would suggest not to aim to make a viral video, but aim to make a video that sells the benefits of the product to the end user.  You can do so in a fun way that sticks with the message.  Ask your team and yourself, “Do the elements in the video distract from the overall message?” If so then it’s pretty much useless.  Who really cares how funny the video is if the end user doesn’t know about the product or service.
The Tag Line Effect

Successful videos promoting products and services from small business have a few viral elements which help  the share-ability factor.
I shared this guys videos with a friend yesterday because he just went bear hunting and there are a few bear videos this guy has.
People who you wouldn’t think would make such videos are doing it, and they’re getting results. They have a wow factor, and say usually something completely random as a catch phrase or tag line.  Example:
Official Ojai Valley Taxidermy TV Commercial
Chuck Testa
His videos are about cutting up all kinds of animals. He also has a tagline.  Does Chuck Testa care if you don’t like the fact he stuffs animals?
“NOPE”
You may never need an animal stuffed, but his videos have a share factor because seeing a bear’s head cut out, or learning how to clean a bobcat isn’t an everyday thing.   It also pisses off a lot of people, which is another factor to which makes headlines.  People love to “hate” on stuff if they can.
Of course his videos didn’t go viral all on their own. They are backed by some commercial promotion.  A booster to get the ball rolling if you will.
Summary
Have something worth sharing?
You should promote the video to enough people to create a buzz then let the video run its course. Viral videos trend for awhile or fizzle out quickly.
Don’t put to much hope into getting rich off of a viral video.  Continue to highlight the benefits of your product and service in a fun unique way and you can’t go wrong.
Richard

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