A catchy little video of a rapper singing a song, mostly in Korean, while performing a dance that resembles a horse gallop was uploaded to YouTube in July. It been viewed on YouTube nearly 600 million times since then.
That video is Gangnam Style and to say it's gone viral is an understatement. Gangnam Style is a phenomenon.
So how do you create a video that catches on and spreads like wildfire?
"The bad news is there is no formula for making a video go viral or else everyone would be doing it," says Toni Nelson of Nelson Photographers. "The good news is that small businesses can make a video with the potential to go viral."
Here are five viral marketing ideas to get you on your way.
1. Be yourself. "Own it," says Michael Flanigan, co-founder of Expressionary, a company that makes personalized gift books. "Whatever you are, or whatever your personality, own it and let the camera see it," Flanigan says.
With every look at the camera it is clear PSY, the Korean rapper, owns his song, his dance and his video.
2. Get creative. When you are brainstorming viral marketing ideas, don't stop at the ordinary.
"Showcase your product in a surreal way by making a video that goes above and beyond your benefits," says Stephen Murphy, founder of Get Busy Media. "The point of the video isn't to be realistic, but instead to create curiosity while highlighting your product or service," Murphy says.
Your video should also have a purpose, and it can't be pedestrian.
"People like to be entertained, and if your video can accomplish that then you are well on your way," says Nelson. "That doesn't mean that you have to have flying animals. Instead, a well thought-out and executed script will go a long way."
3. Make it unique. Another viral marketing idea is to showcase something that is unique.
"Viral oftentimes shows or tells something someone has never heard before," says Ben Cober, Director of Business Development and Research for PGAV Destinations, a company that consults and designs zoos, museums, aquariums and theme parks.
"Whether this is an amazing human trick, an amazing animal trick, a cause that's barely been talked about or really unique special effects, it must be unique to spread," says Cober.
4. Be funny ... or not. Does your viral marketing idea have to be funny to be successful? Maybe or maybe not.
"People share topics that they find funny," says Murphy with Get Busy Media. "This is one of the most commonly used tactics in commercials, like the Super Bowl, and an excellent way to get your product out there."
But Flanigan, with Expressionary, disagrees."It doesn't have to be funny," Flanigan says. "Funny is good if it has a purpose or a message."
Cober, with PGAV Destinations, says it's more about emotion."Viral videos are either hilarious or deeply troubling," Cober says. "An emotion must be stirred in the viewer either to think something is so funny, or so horrible, that they can't resist sharing it with someone else."
5. Get noticed. YouTube is filled with plenty of good videos. But the ones that go viral are the ones that have been noticed.
"You have to get it in the hands of the influencers," says Flanigan. "If you don't let influential people online see it, or know about it, then it's not going to go viral.
Gangnam Style caught the attention of celebrities like Katy Perry, Tom Cruise and Josh Groban, who mentioned it on Twitter. When you make that next video, try incorporating some viral marketing ideas. Own the concept, get creative, make it unique, add some emotion and work hard to get the final product shared. Make it your style while thinking "Gangnam Style."
What's been your most successful social media campaign? Let us know in the comments.
Carla Turchetti is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who likes to break a topic down and keep her copy tight. That's why this bio is so brief! Carla blogs via Contently.com.