Chasing ‘Virality’: 5 Tips to Help Your Next Video Go Viral on Social Media / by Kirby Groome


Want to make a social media marketer cringe? Tell them, “We want you to make a viral video,” and watch them squirm.

In a world where brands are at war over the short attention spans of potential online consumers, it’s rare to stand out in the endless abyss of internet content and achieve that coveted viral status.  

Not sure what makes a piece of content “viral?” Here — I Googled it for you:

Vi·ral (adj.) - relating to or involving an image, video, piece of information, etc., that is circulated rapidly and widely from one internet user to another.

On any given day, 350 million photos are uploaded to Facebook; that means 243,000 photos are uploaded each minute and 4,000 photos are uploaded each second. That’s a lot of puppy and engagement photos, right?

By those calculations, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth MILLIONS. It is estimated that by the year 2020, there will be almost one million minutes of video per second crossing the internet and, by then, 82% of all consumer web traffic will be video.

Need further convincing that video has taken over our lives and screens? Watching video accounts for one-third of online activity. Over 500 million (yes, that’s half a BILLION) people are watching video on Facebook every day (via Forbes), and that’s just one social media platform.

So, if you’re wondering why your perfectly crafted video showcasing your product has only reached 100 people, there’s a good chance it’s buried deep down in the depths of the internet. 

If you’re looking to break through the clutter and achieve viral status, follow these 5 tips to create stand-out video content:

 1. Make it relatable.

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. This is the stance marketers need to take when creating consumable content for their audience. Avoid being self-serving with your storytelling and instead focus on what your audience craves and responds best to. 

When audiences circulate social media video, they are exercising deliberate intent to reach out and grab others’ attention. Moreover, audiences who view social media video circulated by their friends are most likely to enjoy and engage with the video because their friends have tastes similar to their own. They’re more likely to share a video of a mother dog tending to her puppies than your brand video. Sorry … I know you worked hard on it. Don’t take it personally — instead, make itpersonal from the get-go to reach followers on a deeper level.

2. Keep it simple.

Think of any viral video you’ve ever seen — what do they all have in common? They are raw, unpolished and typically filmed on a mobile device.

As social media marketers, we are many things, one of which is a content creator. When a video with no closed captioning, no fancy transitions and no b-roll goes viral, there are few things more frustrating to witness. My challenge for you is to take that frustration, table it, and instead use it as a lesson that sometimes less is best.

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3. Evoke emotions.

Another unifying factor of all viral videos is they either a) tug at the heartstrings, b) tickle the funny bone, c) trigger your audience, or d) inspire action. #AlltheFeelz.

Inducing an emotional reaction from your audience should always be at the back of your mind when creating content. If you’re not sure where to start or which topics to tap into, here are five types of videos that tend to spur the most conversation in the social media landscape:

Controversy. Oddity. Humor. Empathy. Competition.

Controversy —Don’t go giving your PR team a heart attack, but look for polarizing topics that are relevant to your brand’s industry and share your take on the matter, prompting your audience to weigh in.

Oddity —The internet is full of people who claim to have seen it all. (Those people are called liars, for the record.) If your content elicits shock and awe, you not only provide an exclusive experience, but you’ll also give those know-it-alls something to talk about at their next dinner party.

Here’s an example from TBAO client frogg toggs. Under our team’s social media management, we enlist a network of pro anglers and influencers to create content on the brand’s behalf. Last month, frogg toggs went viral when we published this video of pro staffer Rusty Creasey hooking two large bass on one lure. Odd? Check. Simple? Check. Relatable? Check. Despite the oddity of hooking two fish simultaneously, the competitive nature of the frogg toggs audience kicked in and the video received over 13,500 comments, most of which contained photos of fans doing the same.

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Humor —Humor is very subjective. Be honest when analyzing your audience’s comedic capacity and what they consider humorous. Do your due diligence and research the types of content your followers are already sharing, then look for ways to feed that hunger for humor. 

Empathy —Have a heart. The internet can be a negative place; humanize your brand on social media by sharing relevant stories, videos or photos that showcase your company values in a way that’s not self-serving.

 Competition —Most people are narcissistic on social media … and in general, frankly. I’m not saying to start an all-out war amongst your audience, but as with controversial topics, people are steadfast in sharing their opinions on social media. Ask them questions, pin your audience against each other in an engaging way, and watch the comments pour in.

4. Interact, engage, repeat.

Social media video is also accompanied by a public forum in the form of a comments section. As a brand, the biggest mistake you can make is to not engage with these comments. Do your best to reply back to each comment and cultivate conversation with your audience. That will 1) give valuable insights into your audience, 2) humanize your brand, and 3) catapult that post to the top of news feeds, since Facebook prioritizes content with high engagement numbers.

5. Amplify.

Once you’ve done all the above, and the stars have aligned, you’re ready to go viral. If you notice the comment section and amount of shares growing exponentially on your social media post, here are a few ways to amplify its success:

  • If you have a paid Facebook strategy in place, siphon some budget to boost that post to broaden its reach.
  • Cross-promote the video to your other social channels and/or embed it in your next email distribution.
  • Slide into the DMS (direct messages) of relevant news outlets — in the frogg toggs example, we sent the video via direct Instagram message to both SportsCenter and The Ellen DeGeneres Show … they’re playing hard to get.

Now that you’ve armed yourself with the tools to create stellar content, you’re well on your way to crafting social media gold. Be authentic, be relatable, and don’t be afraid to push the envelope with your content topics — the virality will come. 

If you’re in need of a team of content-creation wizards to help you achieve your social media goals and broaden the reach of your messaging, drop us a line.