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How to make your videos go viral: top tips, by Canon Middle East’s Binoj Nair

By Binoj Nair, B2C marketing director at Canon Middle East.

Viral videos are the ultimate badge of success for content creators, yet are incredibly difficult to achieve. Many people assume that videos go viral because of good luck or coincidence and while there is no ‘formula’ that guarantees a viral video, there are certain underlying factors that can help increase the odds. Through careful planning and strategizing and shooting a high-quality video, it is possible to even the odds and create a video that’s worth sharing, with the ambition of having it ‘go viral’. Here are some best practices to bear in mind to improve your chances of a viral video.

1. Your content should trigger strong emotions

The ‘story’ your video is telling, must feel authentic and elicit an emotional response from your audience. Regardless of whether it’s joy, sadness, or even curiosity, the secret to attracting viewers to watch your video till the end, lies in your ability to get them emotionally involved in a story; if audiences can relate to it, it will leave a lasting impression and increase the chances of the video getting comments, shares and re-shares. Videos that evoke strong emotions in the viewers tend to go viral more often. Take for instance the ‘Charlie bit me’ video, which is one of the most-watched videos on YouTube. The primary reason for its popularity was the cuteness of the children and the associated emotions that the video still elicits in the viewer, ensuring volumes of organic shares and re-shares.

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2. Use High-Quality Production – with subtitles

Video posts receive higher engagement than most other types of posts, but viewers have come to expect high-quality videos, especially in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw a new crop of content creators come to the forefront. Nowadays, viewers get easily annoyed by poor-quality video content and attention spans are shorter, so it’s important to ensure quality video that has been shot with purpose, is authentic in its emotional storytelling and captures the attention or imagination of the viewer. Moreover, with as much as 85 per cent of most videos being watched with the sound off, make sure to use titles or captions, so that the video can be understood without audio. While amateurishly shot videos do go viral, the chances of going viral are higher when audiences don’t have to navigate a blurry video or other distractions, that draw attention away from the content. Successful videos also have strong supporting elements, so always include a captivating thumbnail image that summarizes what the video is about and have a catchy headline that can draw attention to the video.

3. The first 10 Seconds will make you or break you

The first 10 seconds are critical because they determine whether someone will continue to watch a video or not. The first few seconds of the video are known as the “hook” for a reason – not only does the content need to be immediately relevant, but the viewer also needs to understand how they will benefit from continuing to watch the video.  Social media is inundated with volumes of content, so capturing the attention of the viewer in the first few seconds is a primary goal; unless your video is captivating, people will simply scroll away. One good way to ensure you “break through the clutter” and engage with your audience is to front-load your video with emotional, dramatic, or even something shocking, at the very start.

4. Create short, punchy videos.

Long attention spans are a thing of the past and the way we consume videos on social media is governed by “the shorter the better” philosophy. Strong, emotion-evoking content, usually lasting between a few seconds to a minute is more likely to go viral. The reality is that when people are preparing to watch a video, the first thing they do is look and see how long it is. It aids them in deciding whether or not to watch it. 10 minutes? No chance. 2 minutes? Might consider it. 30 seconds? Definitely. Short videos which are presented in a “snackable” format and fit into peoples’ busy lives and hectic schedules are ideal, especially as increasingly, people want to consume content “on the go” via their mobile devices.

5. Marketing Strategy to give that extra push

An integral component to pushing a video to go viral is the marketing strategy that accompanies it: Begin by thinking about who the intended audience is and what is the video’s goal? Defining those two terms will assist in not only creating is, but also marketing it to the right audiences and boosting its popularity. Use a combination of tactics, for example, ensure that it is completely optimized for SEO when reposting on blogs or a landing page, use the right and relevant hashtags on social media accounts, ensure the support of influencers who can enable a wider audience and boost it via paid promotions, as a basic starting point. As the video starts gaining views and momentum, you’ll also want to keep an eye on the interactions and analyze performance – If the video doesn’t get as much success as you thought it would then use it as a learning experience on how to do better next time. Take note of any interaction patterns, what succeeded, what didn’t, and any trends that might have affected the popularity of the video. Use this data to strengthen your strategy for the next video.