Most businesses, and some people that just like a challenge, try to reach millions of viewers with a video so entertaining, that it is spread by the social media’s version of word of mouth - by “going viral.” Companies may spend thousands of dollars on research about how to make a video go viral to reach a mass number of their target audience. But, I recently discovered a “How to Guide” for making a viral video while watching cartoons with my son. One of his favorite cartoons, “Regular Show” featured an episode during Season 2 (called “Go Viral”) in which the main characters, Mordecai and Rigby, try to create a viral internet video that involves a trampoline, refrigerator, and an elderly gentleman. In their quest for the most viral video ever, they test and discover what works and doesn’t work. And, their results seem to remain true to most research: record something that’s funny and/or stupid, add a pinch of outrageous, and post it online.
However, as Mordecai and Rigby discovered, there must be passion and meaning behind the message in a video that’s intended to become viral, or it will become stagnant. In other words, there must be a psychological reason for the viewer to share the video. This reason is usually an extreme emotion felt by the viewer, most commonly humor. But, wait! There’s more.
Humor is not the end all be all, because other emotions can be just as powerful for the success of a viral video. Ray Wilson created a viral video that helped him to find and bring home his teenage daughter, Haley, after she ran away from home. In this situation, the extreme emotion was empathy for a father in search of his missing daughter, and people shared the video in hopes of being part of the efforts to bring Haley home safely, which is exactly what happened.
Which brings me to my next point: a successful viral video will make the viewer feel included in a worldwide community. The magic is created when, by simply watching the video, the viewer feels like they are part of something, triggering a response to share it and keep their contacts in the know. By sharing a video, the viewer shouldn’t just feel like they are changing the world. They should actually be changing the world, whether that change is reuniting a father with his daughter, making a friend smile, or forever changing the perception of the Honey Badger.
Basically, when it comes down to it, a viral video is easy to make: record something that causes the viewer to feel an extreme emotion and feel connected with the rest of the world while watching it. This will drive them to include their friends and family in our worldwide community with the click of a “share” button and create the next viral video.