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What makes a video go viral?

What makes a video go viral?

Since the age of the internet and social media, mainly thanks to YouTube, we have seen many videos go viral to the millions, the likes of Rebecca Black, a Sneezing Panda, A drunk on a train, a dog called Fenton they’ve all been blasted over the world to 100,000’s, but what is it that makes a video go viral?  What qualities does a video need to have the chance to go viral?


Relates to the audiences of news outlets  – Many people will tell you who have had successful viral campaigns that what sets their videos apart is the press coverage they receive.  You should try to consider what type of news outlets you want to send your video to (some love to be the first to cover your video if it goes big, you can play on this.)  What other viral videos have they published before?  What is their audience interested in?


Parody, Cute, Crazy –  These are the 3 types of video that are most likely to go viral, people love Parody’s and things that make fun of something they are familiar with.  People love cute animals etc.. People are attracted to things that are crazy and “WTF?”.


Progression – A video can sometimes go viral if it slowly builds up to a big finale or shocking moment that everyone feels they need to share with friends/family, or the main talking point of the video.  It keeps the watcher interested and encourages them to watch the whole video as opposed to getting the result right at the start.  Much like in films there should be a beginning, middle and end, whereby the main action is somewhere in the middle-end.  People will often watch the video again just to see that part.


Surprises – People love surprises in videos, they are what often make them so popular, everyone shares the video for people to “see the surprise”, people will also watch again if they like it, find it funny etc..


Longevity –  A good viral video is one that lasts a long time, preferably you’d not make it “time specific”, so that it is still relevant a few months, or a year, or more down the line.




Invokes the need to share 

– As has been covered above mostly, a viral video needs to invoke the need to share, this way you’ll really go viral, otherwise if no one is sharing it, no one knows about it!  Consider posting the video on some forums, sending it to blog’s/news sites or on social media sites.  Consider creating a “brand” around the video, it’s own hashtag for Twitter etc..  People will often share things that are:

1.  A parody of something popular/widely known/funny

2.  Cute

3.  Shocking/WTF
Which were mentioned above.   You want to try to create something that gets people talking, creates some sort of argument, a viral video will often touch on peoples passions or emotions.


Good luck with your viral campaign! If used right you can bring in some tidy money, or bring a big boost to your business.


Top examples:

Kony 2012 (Shocking)

Susan Boyle: Britain’s Got Talent (WTF)

Justin Bieber: Baby  (Cute I guess)

Jeff Dunham: Achmed The Dead Terrorist: (Funny/Parody)

Rebecca Black: Friday: ( WTF)

Sneezing Panda: (Cute/funny)




Written by OIiver

Oliver is a 20 year old web-enthusiast and entrepreneur from the UK. He enjoys Marketing, SEO, Technology and Business.