Sources Directory     A to Z Index     Topic Index RSS Sources Select News RSS Feed     Sources Calendar      


Media Releases from members of Sources.
To submit a news release, use this form.

Viral Video: Cracking the Code

June 13, 2012

Toronto, June 13, 2012 - Who wouldn't want their video to go viral? With thousands, or sometimes millions, of views your message is shared across platforms and likely across continents. Yet, why are these videos so lucky? What do they do to deserve so much exposure?

"While there is no way to predict how successful your video will be," says Randall Craig, Web and Social Media strategist, "There are ways to improve the odds of your video going viral."

Craig shares his list of common sense, but often forgotten, viral video tips:

1) Deliver an emotional experience. People love to share emotions, so if you give them an experience - not just the facts - the video will more likely be shared. Identify the precise emotional reaction you want the video to elicit - love, sympathy, humor, disgust, rage, inspiration, etc - and then deliver that experience.

2) Use all the moving parts. Not everyone may have Steven Spielberg's eye, but here are some of the moving parts that you may be able to control: script, actors, lighting, camera angles, music, text overlays, and video title. A simple change in music, for example, can completely change the mindset of the viewer.

3) Go for originality. Viral videos are the ultimate reality TV; viewers are looking for the new and the different. If yet another me-too video is produced, there will be no reason to pass it around. And if it is in-your-face commercial, for example 'buy this product', it too will die an early death.

4) Be authentic. The consuming public, with teenagers leading, can smell a fake a mile away. If your viral video looks manufactured, and viewers think that you are trying to 'con' them into sharing it, then one of two things can happen: the video will die and no one will know, or the video will be ridiculed as fake, and everyone will know.

5) Make it easy to find. Beyond uploading the video and giving it a relevant name, there are many other fields that contain descriptive information about the video - Metadata. Fill every single one of them out, using keyword-rich language. YouTube is the second-most used search engine in the world, and completing the meta data will directly help the video be found.

6) Promotion is key. Virality can be best defined by a 1980's-era shampoo commercial - "she told to friends, who told two friends, who told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on". Promoting the video means that you are kick-starting the viral process by sharing it quickly with a far wider audience, who can all tell their friends, and so on. This kick-start can happen through advertising online and offline, an email blast, Social Media posts, or other methods. Viral has a tipping point: once a certain number of people are sharing your video, the diffusion of your video to even more people almost becomes automatic. If you are able to do this based exclusively on your personal reach, then all the better.

7) Look for external stimulus. Often, it is an external breakout event that causes the viral behavior to takeoff. Examples include:

* The video is showcased in mainstream media (TV, Radio, Newspaper, etc.)
* A popular blogger embeds the video in a post
* A celebrity broadcasts the link to their followers
* A speaker shares the video with their audience
* A company puts the link in or on their products.

If any of these can be arranged, then the probability of success is far higher.

8) It is not all about YouTube. While this site is the biggest, it isn't the only place people watch videos. It may be that interest picks up on other sites first. Here are a few to consider: Facebook, Vimeo, VodPod, and Blip.

9) Respect creative rights. The use of others' copyrighted material without their permission, for example in film clips, brand names, logos, music, etc., might mean that the video is automatically prevented from playing - a sure way to kill any viral activity.

A quick look at YouTube's hottest videos, and the number of views is staggering. Following these pointers won't guarantee a viral hit, but ignoring them will guarantee obscurity. And while not everyone may be interested in producing video, these viral concepts can be used to help you spread your ideas - and your influence - considerably.


Since 1994, Randall Craig has advised on web and social media strategy. He is the author of six books including the newly published 5th Edition of Online PR and Social Media. You can visit Randall's blog at

For more information contact:

Randall Craig
416.256.7773 x101 /

Carolyn Bergshoeff
416.256.7773 x 103 /

For more information contact:
Randall Craig
Pinetree Advisors Inc.
Phone: 416-256-7773

Click here to view our Sources Listing:

Randall Craig, Social Media and Networking Expert


Sources home page