Getting your social video to go viral is akin to winning a gold medal at the olympics, as evidenced by my company's recent research. We studied 4,000 videos from 100 publishers globally and found that, surprisingly, over three months, only 1.2% of Facebook's social video goes viral. To be considered viral, a video must achieve more than 1 million views. With video accounting for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, achieving virality is no easy feat.
Before you get too disheartened, there is some hope. Our research also found that "popular social videos", which are those earning between 100,000 to 1 million views, counted for 16% of all videos over the study's three month period.
These figures all highlight how difficult obtaining virality really is, and it's only becoming tougher. Ten years ago, you had to have special skills or training to even create video content online. Now, thanks to technology, anyone can create and share video content, meaning that competition is becoming increasingly fierce, and virality increasingly rare.
For those determined to go viral, there are a few things you can do to increase your odds. Firstly and most importantly, know your audience and what they want. Our study found that people are mostly interested in dynamic videos that are easily accessed from in-feed. Another thing to keep in mind is that videos running 60 to 90 seconds got the most views, while those running 30 to 60 seconds got the most shares, so keep it short. Interestingly, people are more inclined to watch news content, viewing it twice as often as entertainment.
Below are ten more ways in which you can improve your existing content and increase your odds of going viral.
- Be trendy: Trending topics are the key to engagement on social media. Do some research and include relevant content within your video to expand your reach.
- Customisation is key: Creating one piece of video content for all social media is a common mistake. Content shared on Facebook does not automatically translate to Twitter or LinkedIn, and vice versa. Knowing your various channels and what's relevant to them will help understand what you should be sharing, where and when appropriate.
- Give homework: Increasing your followers or like count is not a strategy. To make sure people are truly engaged, close your video with a call-to-action (CTA), nudging viewers to take a next step. This may be clicking through to a website, using a hashtag or sharing the video.
- Do it with flare: Get creative when branding your video - go beyond posting a logo in the opening and closing sequence. Think about your audience and the tone you want to set - what will resonate most with them?
- Snack attack: Listicles are a great example of "snackable" content - these have become so common that viewers immediately know what to expect. Take a lesson from the listicle and try out new formats that connect with your audiences.
- Get active: Starting your video with a stationary intro is a common mistake, and one that should be avoided at all costs. If possible, set your video to autoplay and lead with your most active and exciting shots. This will hook the viewer and increase your chances of click through.
- Square is in: Our research shows that people are into square video. They play well on all displays across devices and don't interrupt viewers' experiences in-feed.
- Keep up and slow down: Using music, editing and text throughout your video is a great way to keep pace within your video and make it exciting. Just make sure you balance this so that the content doesn't become too overwhelming to viewers. Maintaining balance will ensure that people are cued into your content throughout.
- Have a heart: Research shows that the most popular video content of Facebook connects with viewers emotionally. Content that viewers can relate to on some level often translates into views, comments and shares.
- Find the silver lining: Viewers are looking for content that makes them feel better about themselves, their lives or the world. By putting a positive spin on your content, you increase your chances of wider engagement.
Today, all publishers are looking for virality. If done right, viral videos can make up to 60% of all a publisher's shares over a three month period. While this pressure may be intimidating, don't despair. Focus on tackling some of the above areas and developing a solid strategy - then you too could obtain viral fame.