How to Make Your Online Video Viral

Yawns are contagious.  When one person yawns, soon the whole room will be yawning.  Laughter is infectious.  So is looking up at the sky; if you do it, everyone else on the street corner will, too.  The reason why, of course, is that humans are social animals and they tend to respond in similar ways.  When it comes to communication, keep in mind that people, in general, share social instincts.  This awareness can be applied to your communication, but especially to your video projects.

Hoping to make your video viral? Viral, in this context, means that people share a video, and that each person who shares it also shares it with other people, until eventually legions of people have watched, shared, and even commented on the video.  With video-sharing sites like YouTube, video can go viral quicker than the sniffles in a preschool classroom.

Here are some quick tips to make your video as contagious as possible!

  • Play to human instincts.  People are visual  We receive most of our information from observing the eyes and mouth of a speaker.  Use this instinct to your advantage in your video.  Try close-ups of faces, with your “actors” making eye contact with the camera, as if they were talking to the audience.  Wide shots, shots with more than two-three people, and shots with lots of detail, don’t work as well for online purposes.
  • Frame your shots for YouTube.  The players for YouTube are small, about half the size of a dollar bill.  Players for mobile phones are even smaller.  What works: simple backgrounds (forgo lots of detail), tight shots of faces, and minimal or slow action (or movement).  YouTube compresses video and lots of rapid or complex movement and fine details don’t translate that well in the viewer.
  • Create readable captions.  Captions, headings, and any kind of filmed text should be created in a font size large enough to be read on a tiny screen.
  • Keep the video short.  10 minutes or less, five is better, and 30 seconds is not too short!  The shortest videos are the most viral.
  • Create a favicon. Or graphical icon, for your YouTube channel.  It will represent and increase recognition for your organization’s brand.
  • Select the right thumbnail image to represent your video.  This is the image that will show if your video is featured by YouTube.  A clear and interesting shot will inspire people to click the play arrow.
  • Try humor.  I read somewhere that if you can make people smile, you’ve got them listening to you.  A humorous approach is a sure-fire way to engage the online video audience.

About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince ( Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on March 2, 2009, in YouTube Video Tips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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