How to you get the buy-in of a YouTube influencer when trying to make a viral video? How do you create video content that is incredibly shareable? And can a video really go viral without some kind of paid distribution and Video SEO process?
This week our guest Travis Chambers offers his tips on creating viral videos for brands, or as he calls them, “shareable videos.” Dane Golden doubts viral videos are a viable strategy, but he’s approaching it with an open mind. Tim Schmoyer gets a lot of requests from people asking if he can make his video “go viral.” His response is “no.”
Tim recently interviewed family vloggers Sam and Nia about what to do if a video goes viral somewhat accidentally. But Tim says that when brands say they want a viral video, what they’re probably really looking for is a lot of free exposure. They want to be the “cool kids on the street” by having a viral video, and also increase profits and sales. But he says that if you hit the wrong audience with a viral video, it won’t generate sales.
Now on to Travis’ tips on shareable videos viral videos.
Tip #1: Create Video Content That Is Truly Shareable
Travis Chambers says that you can’t make something shareable if it doesn’t have the key elements. You have to start from the ground up to make something that the press will talk about. But importantly, it needs to be the type of content that everyday people will want to share on their social networks. Dane says that everyone thinks their content is shareable by lots of people. But what are the keys points?
Travis says that while there’s always some guesswork in your planning, they’ve learned that everything has to have good distribution and be seen above the clutter. One factor is that there has to be something unexpected. Someone has to be suprised. There has to be a hook with a clear call to action of why you would share something. There has to be a specific reason for someone to share. There are many ways to do this. He’s looked at the top 100 brand viral videos of all time on Mashable, and broken down the factors of what’s made those videos successful. Then they combine that with factors from a New York Times study about what makes people share and the book “Contagious” by Jonah Berger.
Travis says that inspiration is a powerful emotion. One good example of this was in the “Dove Real Beauty Sketches,” where woman found that they were more beautiful than they gave them selves credit for being:
With a video his company helped launch, called the “World’s Largest Treadmill Dance” for NordicTrack, they emphasized large scale by having 40 people simultaneously excercising on treadmills in the video. He noted the headline “World’s Largest” is intended to be “baiting,” because people love the world’s largest anything. Yes it seeks to be inspirational because treadmills are usually boring, but those in the video are dancing and doing unexpected things on treadmills and having fun.
Travis said that while you want to have something unexpected in a viral video, with a brand you also want to play it safe in some ways. Since OK Go had a treadmill video go viral, they knew NordicTrack’s take on it would also have a good chance of doing so. And yet they would do it in their own way. Tim agreed that it was not a rip-off.
What Makes a Video Shareable for the Press, and Internet?
Travis’ team has a press outreach process they follow, and they also work with Shareability which has helped other videos get shareable. Travis says that the press wants to talk about what people are talking about. but it’s hard to get press to post about something that no one else is talking about, and people might not talk about it until there’s press. So you have to have a really big launch and so when press looks at it in the morning, they say that “this is taking off.”
This big launch process is achieved through paid ads, influencer outreach, and distribution. Tim noted that there are a lot of YouTuber influencers in the treadmill video, and that they will talk about it. Travis says that this will help create a grass-roots movement.
Tip #2: Get Influencer Involvement for Your Video
Start with demographics and understanding who you are targeting. Then look at the influencer audience and the style of the influencer – does it work with the brand. Also, are they “brand safe” – meaning can you be certain they won’t do anything vulgar or offensive in their content? And if you have good relationships with creators, and can look at their past successes with brand promotions, then you get a better idea of which are the best to work with. Ideally, the creators will integrate the promotion into the content of their entire video, instead of just a shout-out.
In the “Kobe vs. Messi Selfie Shootout” video for Turkish Airlines, Travis (at another company called Crispin Porter + Bogusky) worked with 650 YouTubers and Plaid Social Labs to try to create an international media storm. This was a big, broad, worldwide campaign where they wanted to influencers to be brand safe, so they didn’t look too deeply into demographics.
Tip #3: Implement a Paid Distribution and Video SEO Strategy
Travis said that 99% of successful viral video for brands have paid media campaigns, usually paid YouTube ads, including the video for Volvo Trucks ad with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Geico Hump Day ad, the Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad, and Dollar Shave Club.
Travis says they all have a majority paid element. Tim says he feels that a paid component discredits the virality of a video, and more people are becoming YouTube savvy as far as inflated views. Travis says that probably most people feel this way, and that people want to see social proof, and not “waste a share.” People want to be on top of a trend. But he says that part of making a viral brand video is making people think that it’s viral. You want to make it insiprational, but you could also make a video like this that doesn’t get viewed at all. So you have to make something look successful in order for it to be successful. And that’s where influencers come in.
Also, native ads with CTAs that take people to Facebook are key. And if you see it more than once, and then see it on a press site like BuzzFeed, you’ll be more likely to share. With “Kobe vs. Messi” there were more than 2,000 press articles, and with the “World’s Largest Treadmill Dance” there were 120 feature articles. But you still have to have good content to make it work.
Dane Golden is CEO of HEY.com, a video content marketing agency. His mission is to help brands get viewers to come back to their videos again and again through use of helpful how-to content, driving loyalty, conversion and ROI. Please connect with Dane on social media using the links below: