You may have heard a lot of hype about a boy named Charlie biting his brother’s finger “going viral” – a phrase that’s all the rage. But what in the world does that even mean? Don’t worry if you’re not hip with the millennial lingo. We’ll clue you in on what “viral” means, how it happens, how many views constitute “viral” status, and how it can impact your business.
What Does “Going Viral” Actually Mean?
Going viral is a phrase you hear everywhere nowadays. This video went viral, that video went viral...
By 2022, video will account for 82% of internet traffic, which means people are uploading more video content than ever before. Not only that, they’re watching them continuously as well. Seriously, one recent survey showed that 78% of people watch an online video at least once a week, and 55% of them daily. Some estimates even say on average, a person watches over 100 minutes of video content every day!
The term “viral video” is about the speed and distribution path an internet video can follow through organic social media sharing. The volume and velocity a video gets shared at each time it’s viewed, the bigger the spike in total number and geography of viewers increases...similar to how a virus can quickly spread person to person. That “spike” can mean millions... even billions of views in a matter of days, something unachievable through traditional methods of promoted video content.
So, how many views is viral? We’ll get to that in a moment. But first...
What Makes a Viral Video?
Is there anything about these videos that sets them apart from others? Do content creators have a special formula or secret sauce?
You might think so, but that’s not the case. Viral videos could be about almost anything. Are there any common characteristics among the most popular viral content or their viewership? Sure, they tend to make people laugh. The term began to be widely used in 2009 after the comical video “David After Dentist” spread like wildfire and gained 140 million views to date.
Now, viral videos don’t always have to be funny – they could be cute, like a German Shepherd making friends with a chicken. Or heartwarming, like a 2-year-old girl talking about her self-confidence while holding a mug of coffee. It could even be capturing an exciting or shocking event in real-time.
At the end of the day, a video that achieves “viral status” is usually funny, interesting, or inspirational – something you’d want to share with your friends.
How do Viral Videos Spread?
A viral video can take a seemingly average Joe and bring him to “internet celeb” status overnight. One minute, you’re innocently posting a video to Facebook, the next thing you know, you wake up to millions of views and headlines about YOUR VIDEO taking the internet by storm. So, how does this happen? How does a video spread this quickly and reach this level of exposure?
Of course, social shares have A LOT to do with it. But don’t discount word of mouth. Have you ever worked in an office environment?
Picture this: You head to the kitchen to grab lunch when you overhear Susan from marketing talking to James about a video she saw of otters making friends with orangutans. Not only does she grab her phone and show James who says, “send that to me! My wife and kids will LOVE that.”. But now you’re curious, too…
Before you know it, the entire floor has seen this video in the span of 20 minutes – and it’s been sent off to all their friends and families… and so on and so on.
And now the answer to the question you’ve been waiting for...
How Many Views Is Viral?
The answer to the question of how many views is viral is twofold. First, it's not just about how many views a video gets, it also accounts for how long it took you to get x number of views. Even if your video, picture, or article has a high view count it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s achieved "viral" status.
YouTube personality Kevin Nalty (aka Nalts) wrote on his blog a decade ago: “A video, I submit, is ‘viral’ if it gets more than 5 million views in a 3-7 day period.” Can you imagine what the statistics are today if he said that ten years ago?
You can’t consider a video of your dad wearing a tophat making balloon animals as “going viral” if it gets a million views over the course of a few years. But if you post this video and it gets 500,000 video views within five hours... that’s a different story.
How Do I Make a Viral Video?
The simple answer is.... nobody can guarantee a video will achieve "viral video" status, there is no guarantee your videos will go viral.
Globally, 3.78 billion people are using social media in 2021. And around 500 million stories are uploaded every day on Instagram. Even though it seems like viral videos are popping up everywhere, the chances of a video actually going viral are like a needle in a haystack.
So, if a video production company promises to create a video that will go viral, this is a major red flag
. Heck, the majority of content viral videos consist of isn’t even planned. In most cases, they happen spur of the moment and happen to be captured on camera.
But I Want My Video to Go Viral, What Can I Do?
Well, if going viral is on your bucket list, there are a few things you can do to help increase your chances. And it’s the same advice we give for our videos or that marketers suggest for blogs or newsletters.
- You need to stop the scroll.
- Use a catchy and effective hook.
- Stay on top of trends (and understand them).
- Make it short and sweet.
- Make content that evokes emotion.
- Deliver something untraditional or unexpected.
- Optimize your content for sharing.
- Periodically analyze video metrics, and see what's working.
Our advice? While you can't count on your video going "viral", what you can do is take some of the ingredients of viral content and incorporate them into the video that you're producing. By applying those principles, you should be able to increase engagement with your existing viewers, and grow your audience with video content that people are more likely to share, and... who knows, you may hit the viral lottery :)
How do you feel about viral videos and business? We'd love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below. If you're interested in making a business video that focuses on your audience, not internet celebrity status, contact us today!