People who know me, or have worked with me, know very well that I will explode into an unapologetic ranting rage whenever anyone uses the term “viral video” in my general vicinity.
Why? Because I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as a viral video. There are videos that go viral, but one cannot set out to create a viral video. In addition, to guarantee a video going viral requires a significant investment in paid media. Or so I thought.
Over the weekend I caught up on some of my personal reading. I pulled up April’s copy of Creative Review on my iPad and absently leafed through it until I saw the article entitled ‘If all else fails, use cats’.
The article gives a great balanced account from various perspectives on what it takes to create a video that will go viral; it’s well worth a read. But the thing that really struck me was a new web app produced by a guy called Chris Quiqley called TubeRank, which is an online resource for creatives hoping to be given a helping hand toward producing a “viral video”.
Aimed in part at inspiring by showing lots of great examples of videos that have gone viral, in part by providing insights into why the videos went viral, I’ve been fascinated by the inherent logic in Chris’ approach.
He has broken down what he believes to be 10 key triggers that a viral video needs to contain. These include categories like “LOL” – which he defines as “Is the video funny? Really? Did it make you smile or laugh out loud (LOL) or even ROFL (Roll On Floor Laughing)?” Another great category name is “Kawaii,” which is defined as “Is the video cute and make you go AWWWW? Does it feature kittens or gurgling babies?”
On top of his 10 triggers, which to my mind represent 10 of the most universally true insights into the human psyche, he then recommends that these triggers are paired with an audience interest category. From automotive to fashion to travel to sport, the insight alone is insufficient to guarantee shareability. Rather, by housing the insight within a category that already has an active community online you are ensuring that you have an active audience with a critical mass sufficient to ensure that the video has the best possible opportunity to go viral.
Each of the videos featured on the site has extensive data points around it, from a proprietary TubeRank virality score, to the number of views it achieved online, its share-view ratio, Facebook shares and Twitter shares, among a whole host of other metrics. And all this is entirely free. Nice one, Chris.
I love the idea that there is some kind of formula that can be applied to the planning for a viral video (the inner geek in me shining through). I’m not naive enough to think that the site provides the whole answer, and I still firmly believe that any video that is going to go viral still needs that spark of creative genius to get to the killer idea, but by being able to see what has been successful in the past and what has not, for a strategist, it’s an invaluable tool.
And moreover, the next time a client asks me “What makes a good viral video?” I need only send them one URL and can cease my viral video rant-fest, much to the relief of my friends, colleagues, and clients, no doubt.
Jon Wade is head of digital, Asia Pacific, at Weber Shandwick
This article first appeared on the ClickZ Asia website