The Elements of a viral video

How do you make a great video?

It’s no secret these days when it comes to creating engaging social media content for your business, or even your personal page, nearly nothing gets the response from people like videos do. But why is that? What makes a video go “viral”? Is there a recipe for virality? What key elements of videos make people love them? Dogs? Absolutely. Cats? 100%. Kids? Without question. Adults? Maybe but not as much. Destruction and chaos? In most cases, yes. Food and recipes? Oh, yeah. But why do people love video, but also love some videos even more so, and what makes good video content?

What makes good video content?

Some difficult questions to answer for sure. One of the main reasons so much video content is made from marketers, and everyday people, is that we remember video so much longer than other forms of content such as the written word. It’s so much easier and generally more entertaining to consumers as well. This article not withstanding of course. And according to an article by ARS Technica, we might have neurons in our brains that “light up” when we are exposed to certain types of content. What about cat videos?

Who doesn’t love cat videos?

Researcher Dr. Radha O’Meara from Massey University in New Zealand who poured over hundreds of hours of cat videos to find out a common theme or trigger: Because “cats don’t care they’re being filmed — an especially rare thing these days, particularly at a time that we ourselves are a bit unnerved about being watched. Cats don’t seem to acknowledge the camera at all and just do whatever they like, they are oblivious to it.”

But there is also the element that all of us have a deep seeded pleasure in surveillance and spying in other people’s lives.  This is essentially what spawned the evolution of so-called “Reality TV”. We like to think there is no script and no acting, so we can observe the life and flaws of another person. It makes us feel good knowing other people are as flawed or more so than we are. There’s comfort in other people’s flaws to some extent. But aren’t we all a little voyeuristic when it comes to people’s everyday lives? We all want to see behind the curtain from time to time. Does that also explain our seemingly insatiable appetite for food and recipe videos?

Recipes and Food shows aren’t just for TV

We all love food, we all secretly want to be chefs, and being a home chef is probably the closest most of us will get to being a chef. But how many recipe building and food videos are enough? Apparently, there aren’t enough as we can’t seem to get enough of them.

But why? In article published by Spoon University, nostalgia plays a big role. “Tapping into what has made cooking channels so well-liked, food videos make viewers feel all warm and fuzzy inside as they imagine themselves as a child devouring their favorite snack or now as an adult cooking food from the heart for their loved ones.” Plus, we don’t have to watch an hour-long show to get the recipe, but rather in 60 second increments and poof, Coq Au Vin! And the birth of yet another home chef has been fostered. But this trend of video watching must stop or slow down at some point, right? Isn’t it getting close to running its course? Maybe, but probably not. Is there a “Next Frontier” of video content? Oh, yes, and this time it’s live, not recorded.

 

Live video is the new video

Live video is the new frontier, and it satisfies nearly all our emotional cravings. A simple live video can satisfy our voyeuristic tendencies by letting us in on something happening now, and giving us at least a glimpse of what is happening behind the proverbial curtain. It provides that instant gratification we all so sorely demand from nearly everything. Live video also provides a sense of FOMO, or fear of missing out. But live events and videos also can replace our need to be somewhere faraway to see it and experience it in person. Can’t afford to attend or have the time to go to this year’s Coachella? Not to worry, tune in to the live feed and experience it from the comfort of your desk. With Live Video now, you can even interact with the content and creators. But is all this enough to make your video or live stream go “viral”? Not necessarily.

How to make a viral video

I got to thinking about this concept of virality in recent days with the viral video of the dad and professor in South Korea giving an interview over the air to the BBC network about East Asian affairs, his kids and wife stormed into his office seemingly and unknowingly sabotaged his live performance and interview that was being shown across the globe. As anyone who is a parent knows, kids have a distinct and innate ability to show up out of nowhere when the moment is least appropriate or desired for them to do so. This video, dubbed the “BBC interview hijacked by children” went viral in a matter of minutes after its’ original showing live on BBC.

What is it about this video that struck a chord with so many people around the world? Is there something we can all take away from this video that can improve our own video content and potential virality? I say unequivocally yes. And does it do anything to satisfy emotional triggers we all have deep embedded inside each one of us? No doubt about it. Here is what that video had and has that can enlighten all of us on what kind of video will potentially engage, or even delight people.

  • It’s at least mildly voyeuristic. Shows behind the scenes of life.
  • It’s humorous.
  • No script or acting of any kind.
  • It’s nostalgic. Reminds us of our current or past lives.
  • Exhibits or exposes perceived “flaws” in us, our team, or our family.
  • It’s slightly or overly chaotic.
  • Bonus: If it’s Live.
  • Bonus: If it contains either a dog, cat, or a child.
  • Lastly and maybe most importantly…It’s human and real, or a representation of life.

 

While these elements of a video certainly do not guarantee success, huge engagement, a staggering number of views, or even virality, utilizing these elements organically in your videos and video campaigns will certainly better the chances of any of them and possibly all of them happening. Just don’t script it out. Be real, be flawed and most of all be human.

Author, Eric Graham, Digital Marketing Manager- iWeSocial.com

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