How to Make A Viral Video
Most popular creators started their journey with a total hit - a viral video that sparked interest, got the people going, and inspired the creator to keep posting! After your first viral video, it becomes easier and easier to make trending content, once you have the clout.
If you’re looking to make your first viral hit, here are the best tips from our team of entertainment industry pros.
One of the most iconic videos of all time, "Leave Britney Alone" is the ultimate example of an emotion-inducing viral video!
Play up the emotion!
People watch videos to feel something - scared, excited, happy, impressed, shocked, jealous, etc.
For example, If you’re a dancer, they’re impressed you can move so well to the rhythm. Basic moves are fine to mix in, but you really want to impress your audience with the most difficult stuff at the beginning of the video.
If you’re a lifestyle creator, people typically watch your videos because they love your aesthetic and want to model it themselves, or they’re jealous that you have a sweet life. Of course, you don’t want to be a jerk and obviously “flex” your awesome life too much, but remember that is why people are interested.
If you’re a musician or athlete, people are generally impressed with your insane talent. Show it off! Do a backflip! Riff around! People are curious just how amazing you actually are, so show them!
Of course, the above doesn’t describe every type of creator. If you’re wondering what emotion your content makes people feel, check out another creator whose work you admire/model off of and watch their stuff. Try to explore your own emotions when watching their videos!
Short = Sweet
The length of your video should depend on the platform you’re posting. Here’s our guide on the ideal length for some of the most popular platforms:
ZigZag: ~1 minute or less
Youtube: 6 - 10 minutes
Instagram: 15 seconds
TikTok: 16 seconds
Generally, humans have short attention spans these days. You want the first three seconds to be the most eye catching or emotional part of the video, and then the remaining seconds can be less intense. For example, you may open your dance video with a difficult move, or a singing video with a really impressive riff. If people see a really long video ahead of them, they might even scroll away immediately. Some of the most viral videos of all time were a minute or less.
Leave them wanting more.
You may have noticed the “follow me for part two!” trend that's currently happening on TikTok. These creators aren’t accidentally running out of time - it’s a strategy. The easiest way to create a viral video is to drop about ½ of a bomb on people, and then end the video. Don’t post Part Two right away - wait a day or so for Part One to rack up the views and comments, let people follow you, and then drop Part Two. Build your brand around that viral two-part series!
It’s important to note here that you want to make sure your viral video is something you can replicate again - content that really DEFINES your talent or type of creation. This is the only way to avoid becoming a “one hit wonder”.
For example, say you typically post videos about hiking, but you post one really cool video of you doing crazy backflips on a dirtbike, and that goes viral. Sure, you might gain a bunch of followers - but if you don’t keep posting dirtbike content, those people will slowly disappear. If your speciality is hiking, your mission is instead to create the most incredible, heart-pounding hiking videos. Those people are your intended audience!
Remember this guy? He went viral for being hilariously off-trend on TikTok, while bringing tthe good vibes.
Keep Trends in Mind
We hate to say it, but people are pretty judgemental on the internet. Many viewers will scroll right past you if you don’t look “cool” enough, or aren’t up to date on current trends. If you’re aiming for a traditional viral video, there are two ways to navigate this 1) be totally on trend or 2) be so outrageously off-trend that people are confused enough to stick around and figure out what’s up with you.
Let’s unpack some examples.
FASHION: It’s February 2021 as we’re writing this, so some of the popular fashion trends right now include oversized blazers, white boots, unique sunglasses, fancy looking athleisure, and tie-dye are in. If I’m a fashion blogger and trying to make a viral video, I’m might pick one of these items, buy a very expensive version of it, and style it in a video. Then I’ll title my video, “HOW I STYLED MY $700 ZEBRA SUNGLASSES”. The title is weird enough people will click, and the video highlights as popular fashion trend. If you’re a singer and going for a shockingly-off-trend vibe, you could throw together the ugliest outfit humanely possible and riff around for a bit, captioning your video “FAV OUTFIT + FAV SONG”.
CURRENT EVENTS: We’re deep in ‘rona right now, so that’s pretty much the biggest current event happening. Creators can go viral by rolling with this situation & tying it to their speciality. For example, a musician could go explore an empty outdoor concert space and play to a crowd of zero. Caption: “I miss my people :(“ .
MUSIC: An oldie but a goodie - accompany your viral video with a really popular or really unpopular song.
EDITS: Finally, check out what sorts of filters, transitions, and video edits are currently popular. We recommend rolling with these and implementing them into your video. If you’re wondering what’s trending, check out the profiles of creators in your space with about ~100K followers, and they’ll be implementing them to grow their account, too.
SHARING THE VIDEO
Share at the Right Time
We cannot stress this enough - it is very hard to go viral if you post your video when your audience isn’t online. If your target audience is school-age or in the professional world, they might not be scrolling on your platform during the middle of the morning. Post when your people are online, so those likes will start coming in quickly.
Of course, the world has totally different timezones. But if you know you have a few dedicated followers in Los Angeles (like the ZigZag team), roll with roughly that timezone. You want those people to like and comment on your video quickly so the platform’s algorithm knows you posted something juicy.
Share on the Right Platforms
Might seem pretty obvious, but make sure you’re sharing the right stuff in the right place. If your shot at a video video is a 30 second clip, don’t expect it to go viral on Youtube.
Lastly, when people show you love - engage right back! Reply to comments quickly and thank folks for sharing. Build a relationship with the people who love you! That is how brands & fans are made.