The Shocking Truths Behind “Viral Videos”

I can’t tell you how many stories I hear of clueless CEOs who go out to their PR team and tell them to “make us a viral video.” Not knowing how the web really works, they think it’s as simple as coming up with the most genius idea ever, filming it, and collecting the money from the Internet truck that pulls up to your house (or something like that). 

video_presentationOf course that’s not the truth at all. In fact, “viral videos” aren’t exactly what most people think they are. Treating them like they’re just a sum of parts can not only be pointless it might actually hurt your business as you could find yourself barking up the wrong tree.

What is a viral video, exactly? 

When a video goes viral, most people seem to think it was part of a well-orchestrated event. Somehow the “Chocolate Rain” or Nyan Cat creators were able to create buzz around their videos and let practically the entire world know about them so they could make money off their   temporary fame, right?

But that’s just the thing about viral videos – nobody knows what’s going to blow up. People create and upload stuff literally all the time to the web, and only like .001% goes “viral.” The silliest thing in the world can go around the world while a poignant, impactful video goes nowhere. The collective hivemind of the Internet just happens to decide this one video is worthy of spreading around to literally everyone.

So how do you make one? 

When the poor misguided CEO says they want a viral video, they don’t really know what they want. They know that some videos spread like wildfire and they want to get in on the action. But if you were to ask what KIND of video, they would have no clue.

This is because, as stated above, there’s no telling what will go big. Take Funny or Die, for example; you’ve no doubt seen some of their greatest hits (the one with the little girl as Will Ferrell’s landlord was amazing), but how many have they made that haven’t gone anywhere? Hundreds. They can’t all be hits. But there was something special about the little girl landlord one, and that’s just how it goes.

So the process of making a “viral video” is just making the best video you can. Make it interesting, funny, amazing, ridiculous…whatever, as long as it’s interesting! Even if it’s cruddy you can still find success…as long as it’s cruddy in a fun way.

The important thing after you make your video is to get it out to the public. There are likely thousands of videos waiting on YouTube that could potentially be world-travelling viral videos but nobody knows about them. So tell everyone you know, including your family, customers, bloggers, and your barista.

In the end, though, it will be out of your hands. If that video fails, try another one, and make it more interesting or more moving to your target audience. If that one also fails, try again. Eventually you might hit pay dirt – or, with the simple action of making great videos, you’ll find the audience you need in more traditional ways.

What’s your favorite viral video?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free 160-page copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here:

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