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07 Feb 2013

From Video to Viral In 6 Steps

From Video to Viral in 6 Steps

When I first saw my friend Emma’s YouTube video come through on my Facebook feed, it had about 75 views. A day later? Over 200,000. Four days later: almost 800,000 and climbing. What took this video to virility so quickly? A talented actress, a brilliant concept, and a few tried-and-true internet marketing tricks.

With a $100 budget, the video, “For Your Consideration” was shot by a 28-year-old USC Film School grad student named Alberto Belli and stars Emma Fitzpatrick. The video gained over 60,000 hits in its first hours and gained media coverage from The Daily Beast and USA Today, along with The Today Show, who put it up in a vote-off of the top four viral videos of the week. Putting a new spin on the lyrics to I Dreamed a Dream from the movie musical Les Misérables, the spoof grabs attention for not only its hilarity and killer vocals, but for its relevance to what people are searching for today.

Video is one of the most valuable marketing tools available. About 25% of all internet users visit YouTube in a given day, so if you’re not using video to attract your customers, your marketing campaign is lacking. What kind of video can attract the most traffic to your site, and what makes it go viral? Here are 6 steps to take in order to give your video a better chance at spreading to the masses.

1. Talk about what people are talking about.

What are the masses Googling right now? What’s on the news? What questions are people asking? “For Your Consideration” grabs viewers’ attention in the search; it’s talking about what people are talking about: the Oscars, Anne Hathaway, and Les Misérables. Now, Anne Hathaway may not be completely relevant to your business, but there are surely other things in current events that you can find a parallel with, especially within your own industry. Find a way to connect your content with what is significant in today’s world yet retains brand relevancy, be it pop culture, politics, or world news.

Content is King in Videos

2. Make the content worth watching.

As it is said, Content is King, and that even applies to the content of a video. Script your material with care and recruit players who are enjoyable to watch. Maybe it’s only a how-to video for table-making, but that doesn’t mean your actors can’t be personable and rehearsed. Take the time to light your shoot accurately and steady your camera equipment. No one wants to watch a dark, shaky video, unless it’s The Blair Witch Project, which might just be your goal. Be intentional with whatever you do, and make sure all aspects of your video are in line with your goals.

3. Choose good keywords.

For the title, for the content, for the tags. If you’re using social mentions (Facebook, Twitter, Google+), use appropriate keywords in the posts. Draw people in with the right words and phrases that clearly indicate your message. YouTube’s description field is a perfect place to write a short narrative that includes all of those good keywords that will help make your video more easily found.

4. When you upload it, optimize it.

If we’re talking SEO, best to go to an expert. Art Enke, the Director of SEO Services here at Vertical Measures, weighs in on video marketing:

“First of all, don’t even think about NOT hosting your video on YouTube because roughly 70% of video results that show up in Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages) are hosted on YouTube. For example, do a quick search for “kite surfing” and scroll all the way down the page and count how many videos are hosted on non-YouTube platforms. Don’t get me wrong, Vimeo is an incredible platform and your unique video content should be curated on as many platforms as you like. However, be sure to only embed your YouTube video source if you’re serious about using video as part of your SEO strategy.”

Another good SEO tip from the “Art” of SEO:

“Place a URL to your site above the “YouTube fold” – there are only 3 lines of visible text from the description field above the ‘show more’ button.”

5. Know the value of a good video, and put some money into it if you have to.

For example, Dollar Shave Club put their entire marketing budget into one video, and when it launched in March of 2012, it was only a couple of weeks before it shot to the top of page #1 of Google’s SERPs ultra-competitive seed-keywords such as “shaving.” Over 12,000 people signed up for the company’s service in the first 48 hours alone. Learn more here about the whole Dollar Shave Club story.

Pass it on

6. Never underestimate the power of sharing.

“For Your Consideration” was a success, largely in part to those involved having a large social outreach. With just a few shares at just the right times, suddenly everyone was ‘liking it’ or ‘tweeting it’ or, most importantly, ‘sharing it.’ Encourage those involved with your project to pass it on. Every share helps. And link to your video whenever possible, be it in blog posts, articles, or even emails to clients.

Videos, in the eyes of the almighty Google, are considered to be a higher form of viewer engagement than a simple written blog post, and they can help to boost your rankings. You don’t have to be a professional videographer or director; you just have to put in the work to turn your idea into a video. If the Gangnam Style guy can do it (with over a billion Youtube views), so can you.