A few weeks ago, it seemed like Old Spice took over the Internet with their wildly popular YouTube videos featuring the Old Spice guy. And it seems that the attempt worked: sales for Old Spice body wash products increased in correlation with the viral campaign backed by ad agency Wieden + Kennedy.
This hilarious campaign has shown us that an investment in viral marketing can lead to great returns. So, for those of you looking to step into the creative world of viral videos, here are some things you need to know:
First, you need to understand the basics of creating an awesome video. Simply put, the right equipment and a little planning go a long way.
Second, you have to realize that not every video you make will be as popular as an Old Spice ad. Take Jonathan Mann's "Song A Day" project for example. For the past year and a half, Mann has created a new song and music video every single day and posted it onto YouTube. However, he says that only three of his 600 or so videos have gone "viral." Given that sample size, that's about a 0.5 percent success rate for a veteran in the viral video field.
Third, pretty much everyone who has made a viral video says it's mostly luck that turns a web video into a worldwide phenomenon.
But, there are certainly a few things you can do to boost your chances of becoming a viral phenomenon.
We spoke to some people who’ve actually created wildly popular viral videos to get their varied advice on the matter.
David DeVore (the father behind the camera of David After Dentist):
"I'd just pick something that you're good at and really like and just do it really well... as far as making it viral, I don't think anyone knows how to do that... The only practical thing is to bring your camera everywhere.”
Gary Brolsma (Numa Numa):
"A lot of the people on the Internet, they have short attention spans... It'd have to be short, funny,... Something extraordinary has to happen to catch their attention."
Noah Kalina” (Noah has taken a photo of himself every day for 6 years.):
"I don't think you can ever make a viral video... it's something that happens... you just have to get lucky."
Jonathan Mann (Song A Day):
"As far as I'm concerned it's all completely random. There's really no formula for making something go viral... It's a mixture of luck and weird collective consciousness."
Miles Beckett (co-creator of the viral web series lonelygirl15):
"Shooting content in a way appropriate for the medium is important. A lot of the content being made isn't web native... It's 100% 1-to-1 marketing. It's not just the content you produce it's the community you get."
Howard Davies-Carr (the father responsible for the most viewed amateur YouTube video – Charlie bit my finger - again!):
"Firstly, I would ask why do you want a viral video. I did not set out to do so. I was just lucky or unlucky depending on how you look at it. However, some things I have learned since – Don't assume something you do or are passionate about is interesting to others. Be honest; keep it short and relevant... Set yourself some moral guidelines and keep to them no matter the offers, this last one is probably more difficult than most."
So, what's the main lesson to take away from these viral videos? Keep it short, and hope for the best.