How videos go viral

There is no red button on the wall that you can press to send a video viral. However, there are common attributes to videos that have been shared a lot and considered a viral success.


  • Humour, usually in an ironic, parody style
  • Incident, what happened next
  • Shock
  • Sweet, just too cute for words

Viral videos don’t just happen, they are made

  • Viral videos are mostly choreographed carefully
  • They are surprising, engaging and experiential not advertising/sales
  • They engender strong emotions to make people want to share it
  • “OMG” moment ;”This is brilliant” moment; “This is terrible” moment and so on

Social outreach

  • Most of these videos have been carefully targeted and sent to the digerati, people with large audience reach, popular bloggers and web celebrities (Don’t cold email these people or self promote, take a “sneak peak” in context approach)
  • People will click and share if they have received the video via a friend or trusted source, so even niche groups have the propensity to share far and wide
  • People are less likely to share if there is advertising or a strong call to action


  • Get your video title, description and thumbnail right to entice a view
  • Videos that are already showing strong audience views get faster uptake
  • The alternative to many clicks as a measure of success, consider, time per click analysis, as a measurement of success


  • Content winners are niche, weird, unique, shocking, funny, sensational, freaky, unexpected
  • Make it easy to find, optimize the title and description
  • The first 15 seconds are the most important, we all suffer from attention deficit these days, so it has to be “worth it”, for us to give up 3-5 minutes of our time

In case you missed it, Erin Clement wrote this entertaining “How to Make a Video go Viral” post in the Huffington Post:

If you thought nothing could ever be more appealing than Justin Bieber crooning about first love in a bowling alley, then think again. Korean rapper Psy’s viral sensation, Gangnam Style, has ousted the Biebs from his No. 1 spot, beating Baby as YouTube’s most-viewed video of all time.

But how can you join the vaunted ranks of these viral stalwarts? We’ve plucked the salient features of YouTube’s Top 10 (and some other notables) to help you become an Internet celebrity. Of course, it helps if you’re already a celebrity in real life.

Read more here and watch the videos… It’s worth it.

Fi Bendall is the managing director of digital and interactive consultancy company Bendalls Group. With over 20 years’ experience, Bendall has worked with global brands including BBC and Virgin, and is an expert in how businesses can approach strategy in the digital world. You can follow her on Twitter at @FiBendall, and can contact her through Bendalls Group.



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