Why Some Brands Succeed at Viral Video Marketing

Viral Video

Why do some videos go viral while others flop? Here’s why some brands succeed at viral video marketing and what makes a viral video in the first place.

Why Some Brands Succeed at Viral Video Marketing

Back in the 2000s and early 2010s, it didn’t take much to go viral. Homemade YouTube videos shot to virality almost at random – all it took was a kid biting his brother’s finger or a cat doing something silly. Nowadays,

increasing numbers of viral videos are being created by brands and the bar is constantly being raised for what is considered successful viral content. While some brands are winning at the viral video marketing game, others have been left in the dust. 

So, what are these brands doing to succeed in this field of content marketing while others flop every time? And, more importantly, what can you do to help your brand go viral? Here’s everything you need to know. 

What does a viral video mean?

A video that goes viral is a video that has been extensively shared on the internet, amassing large numbers of views in a short amount of time. While in the past the number of views needed for a video to be considered ‘viral’ was a million, viral videos of today reach many times that.

These days, a video going viral is less about it reaching a particular number of views and rather its rapid spread via people sharing it and the video gaining cultural relevance.  

What are the common characteristics of viral videos?

While the viral videos of the early internet seemed to revolve around the common themes of funny children and cats, today the viral video landscape is far more complex.

What actually makes a video go viral? Marketing technology company Unruly analysed 100,000 consumer data points and 430 billion video views to identify the two biggest causes of viral video success: the psychological response the video creates, and the social motivation that makes people want to share it with others.

Beyond these common themes, viral videos are extremely varied, ranging from music videos like Gangnam Style to TV adverts such as those by Old Spice and Dollar Shave Club, to simple TikToks.

There’s no common subject or idea that can make a video go viral – it’s more about the emotional response that these videos evoke. 

Why do some brands get viral video marketing right?

So, why have some brands like Old Spice, Dove, Cadbury’s, and Dollar Shave Club managed to nail viral video marketing while other brands fail?

Here are some of the reasons that viral video marketing can succeed.

It’s all about emotion

Brands that succeed at viral videos are able to create a strong emotional connection with their audience. Research has found that viral content tends to be surprising, emotionally complex, or very positive, evoking emotions such as admiration, happiness, and love.

Humour is also present in a lot of viral videos, however, the subjective nature of humour can sometimes make it hard to appeal to a wide group so these videos are hard to pull off. 

Successful brands are aware of the emotions they want their video content to evoke and they take careful steps to achieve this throughout the planning, production, and post-production process.

These videos are often carefully tested on focus groups to ensure that they achieve the desired emotional response to make individuals want to share these videos with their friends. 

They tap into current trends and issues

Successful viral video marketing is relevant to current issues and trends that impact the target audience.

Videos that feel ‘of the moment’ and tap into the cultural zeitgeist are more likely to provoke strong emotions and thoughts, making viewers more likely to share the video with the rest of their network.

However, it’s not enough to just acknowledge a cultural issue or trend; it’s important that the video does this in an authentic way that resonates with the audience. 

They create content that people want to share

While the algorithms of various social media platforms play a major part in promoting videos to users, the big reason that videos go viral is that people choose to share them with friends.

People may want to share videos for a range of reasons, and it’s useful to consider which of these motivations your content is targeting. For example, people may share your video because they:

  • Are curious about what their friends think of it or want to start a conversation about it
  • Want to share something interesting or useful with their friends
  • Want to demonstrate their knowledge of your topic or to be the first to tell their friends about it
  • Are keen to help support a good cause or message

They have a clear point and call to action  

Viral video marketing isn’t just about trying to amass as many views as possible. Brands that succeed at viral videos know that they need to include a clear point and call to action in their video campaigns.

Think of the viral Kony 2012 video campaign; the video gave clear instructions about what viewers could do to support the campaign and this made it highly effective.  

Why do other brands fail at viral video marketing?

For every brand that creates a viral video, there are thousands of others that try and fail to pull this content marketing tactic off. So what do brands who fail to go viral for the right reasons have in common? 

They fail to create an emotional connection with the audience

One of the biggest reasons that video marketing fails to go viral is that it doesn’t achieve the right emotional connection with an audience. This could be for a range of reasons – perhaps the storytelling isn’t strong enough, maybe the brand has misunderstood the desires and worries of its target audience, or maybe the video is too long or boring.

They are not authentic or relatable

Authenticity and relatability are key to viral videos. A video that makes a brand appear out-of-touch may go viral for all the wrong reasons – just think of Pepsi’s disastrous video ad featuring Kendall Jenner in 2017.

Pepsi tried to tap into an important cultural issue with their advert depicting Jenner at a protest giving a Pepsi can to a police officer, but the advert was accused of trivialising the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality.

The topic was very relevant but the approach lacked authenticity and sensitivity, damaging the reputation of the ad campaign and the brand.  

They take too long to get to the point

For viral videos, grabbing and maintaining audience attention is essential. Editing a viral video isn’t easy – it involves making a lot of important decisions about what to include and what to leave out.

Brands whose videos don’t go viral tend to take too long to get to the point, failing to maintain their viewers’ attention from the introduction.

Their videos are too long and the audience loses focus before the end. For this reason, it’s important to keep your video content short and succinct, avoiding slow or unnecessary sections.  

Make your brand go viral today

There’s no perfect formula for the next viral video; creating the next big viral video is a combination of careful planning, fresh creativity, excellent editing, and meticulous timing and planning for your distribution strategy. Of course, some of it comes down to chance, too. 

Going viral isn’t easy, but your chances of creating a compelling and shareable viral video are significantly increased when you use a video production agency that knows the ins and outs of producing viral content.

With the expertise, experience, and resources of an industry-leading video production company like Perspective Pictures, you can create video content that is poised for virality.