YouTube: Revealing the Secrets to Viral Videos

YouTube ViralLast night, Angela Hill sponsored the EvoNexus event featuring Dylan Conroy of ChannelFactory. The presentation was called “The Secret to Making Your Video Content Go Viral” and I’m ready to share those secrets with our readers today. So, let’s dive in.

The number one takeaway was this: Google has created an algorithm that ranks YouTube videos based on three items:

  1. Velocity – how rapidly the video is raking up views
  2. Completion Rate – how often are people watching the video until the very end
  3. Engagement – Are people commenting? Sharing? Giving thumbs up or thumbs down?

These three items are the foundation to figuring out what makes a video “go viral” – to some extent. Of course, the question was asked, “How can I make my video go viral?” To which Dylan kind of laughed and replied, “That’s the real question isn’t it? It’s kind of a loaded question…and here’s why…” There’s really no “viral video guarantee” out there, but there are best practices that can make your video more likely go viral.

In addition, Youtube advertisements can be targeted by six categories:

  1. Keywords
  2. Demographic
  3. Geotargeting
  4. Topics
  5. Interests
  6. Affinity

For example, if you are GM and want to promote an ad for the new Chevy Camaro, right off the bat you may target men ages 25-55 (demographic), in the US (geotarget), that follow/subscribe to automotive YouTube channels (interests), and type in their search “Chevy,” “trucks,” or “Camaro” (keywords).

All of these are ways a brand can reach their ideal target market. In addition, there are common practices in content development that have been proven to be more receptive to the average YouTube viewer. They are: emotional, funny, and surprising/unbelievable. Here are some examples, can you guess which one is which?

Zales: “Balloons Proposal Story: The Celebration Diamond Collection, Exclusively at Zales”

Planet of the Apes: “Ape with AK-47”

Leadercast: “A Conference Call in Real Life”

What’s interesting is that the viral videos we know and love sometimes aren’t as organically popular as we think. Let’s take a look at Buzzfeed’s “Dear Kitten” video (sponsored by Friskies). The video has 20.5 million views – but how did it get so many? Was it the cute, cuddly kitten? Or the humor within the content? Actually, it was view purchasing. As you can see in the statistics, you’ll notice a spike from 0 to approximately 10 million views – this indicates that 12 million views were purchased by Buzzfeed in order to promote the video. In this case, purchasing 10 million views got them 20.5 million, increasing by 2X. This is a tactic that many brands use in order to promote their videos and make them go viral.

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