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What Makes Videos Go Viral

By Contrast Design Subscribe to RSS | February 13th 2012 | Views:

Although the term ‘viral’ has long been associated with the spread of infectious diseases, over the last few years it has more commonly be linked to how quickly online video, articles and e-books are shared by Internet and mobile apt users. This has led to the rise of the ‘viral marketing’ concept, where content (visual, sound or print) is specifically designed to encourage sharing.

‘Viral’ marketing content is given away free to make sharing much easier. But being free does not necessarily make content a potentially ‘viral’ phenomenon. You need an angle, something that will compel viewers or readers to share your content with their friends and family. In this post I will be looking at some of the themes that can make a video ‘viral’.

Shock & Awe

The shock and awe theme is one which is often used to grab people’s attention and to demonstrate power. It is a theme with high ‘viral’ qualities simply because it is spontaneous and stands out from the norm.

Last week’s top viral videos on YouTube were all about the tornados which impacted the Southern United States, killing scores of people and leaving behind them a trial of devastation. Although these videos gripped viewers with footage of nature’s awesome power, as a marketing tool they are limited. No business in the mainstream would want to be associated with death and destruction.

The shock and awe theme is one which needs to be used carefully so that it does not offend the sensibilities of viewers. For this reason, the shock and awe theme is not one that is easily harnessed for marketing purposes. Moreover, because of their very spontaneous nature, shock and awe events are very difficult to capture. Capturing shock and awe events very much depends on the videographer being in the right place at the right time.

The Cute & Cuddly

There is nothing like the comic antics of a small child or furry animal to set audiences purring ‘Aw! That’s so cute.’ But, again, from a marketing perspective, such a theme has its limitations. Cries of foul will be heard if the theme is seen to be used in a way that is deemed exploitative.

The Unusual

Something that is unusual or out of the ordinary will catch an audience’s attention very quickly, especially if it is entertaining and bereft of anything offensive. One such video clip that hit the YouTube viral hotspot last week was the six minute performance of Edward Reid during an audition for Britain’s Got Talent.

Edward, to the backing of Leona Lewis’ ‘Run’, gave a rendition of some well known nursery rhymes that was simply out of the ordinary. The BGT panel of judges and the audience were expecting something more traditional, but were pleasantly surprised when Edward started to sing ‘Oh McDonald Had a Farm’, quickly followed by ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’. The video clip of Edward’s performance has received over 2.5 million views on YouTube in the last ten days, which is simply phenomenal.

Like most unusual and entertaining events, Edward’s video clip contained all the elements of a good viral marketing vehicle, especially if you are producer of nursery rhyme books and audios. This is why the ‘unusual and entertaining’ is a theme that is frequently used by online marketers to good effect.


Comedy remains, to this day, the most popular theme used by online marketers. Laughter is a source of inspiration for many and as such is a very sharable commodity when it comes to the creation of online ‘viral’ content.

The downside to comedy is the fact that it is very subjective. What is funny to audiences in the USA is not necessarily funny to audiences in the UK. So it is vitally important for ‘viral’ content producers to use a subject that has universal appeal. Budweiser, Pepsi and Toyota have all been successful in producing comic ‘viral’ content that has widespread reach across a range of international audiences. This is, perhaps, because comedy is more easily captured than other potentially

‘viral’ themes.

At the end of the day, your choice of theme will very much depend on your product and the audience you want to attract. The key here is to use a professional video production company to help you determine the best ‘viral’ theme for your video content.

Contrast Design - About Author:
Contrast Design offers a complete corporate video production solution, using fresh creative ideas tailored to your company’s exact requirements. We provide support through all steps of the video production process, from creating the initial project plan to helping you make the most of your video after the launch, saving you time and money.
Our expertise goes way beyond video production; our team members all have solid digital marketing, technical experience and business backgrounds. We don’t just work for you; we work with you ensuring our video solutions meet all your business objectives.

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