Viral Videos are Hard to Make

How does one really create a viral video?

How do you even make a successful video?

Nicolette Cohen


Video sharing is a key marketing and advertising tool in the market today. Social media has become ubiquitous and creating the next standout viral video is the marketing Holy Grail. One example of a viral video campaign was by Old Spice featuring former NFL player, Isaiah Mustafa. After the video went viral it led to tweets by celebrities responding to Isaiah’s conduct in the video. He responded to the tweets with more videos increasing the video’s virality as the public stayed engaged. Paying for advertisements is costly and usually not cost effective to reach a broad audience. This is the most cost effective exposure available with the added benefit of free transmission and distribution. Creating a viral video is rarely a product of planning and in fact is subject to factors such as the right timing, the right message, engaging taste/opinion makers and luck. If your goal is to make a viral video, the rule of thumb is to be prepared for failure. Research shows that “within the first ten seconds of a video, 10.39% of viewers are gone.” (Barker 148) This confirms not only the likelihood of failure, but the short attention span in which to break out. That being said, there still is a chance and there are steps to take to increase the slim chance of virality.

There are keys to boosting the chances of having a successful video that will be widely shared. The first rule is to be different and offbeat. The “wow” factor must be first and foremost. In an article on, Dan Ackerman Greenburg, co-founder of The Comotion Group, a viral video marketing company, explained secrets to making a viral video. He has had extraordinary success with six videos. One had over 6 million views on YouTube and all six videos made it onto the top 5 Most Viewed of the Day. One counter-intuitive point Greenburg makes is that content is not king. This was shocking to read because in virtually all other aspects of filmmaking and storytelling content is king. He expresses that, “generally, a concept should not be forced because it fits a brand. Rather, a brand should be fit into a general concept.” (Greenburg) Having the brand fit into a general concept is tricky because many brands are limited as to what concepts they can fit into. This was a bold idea and easily could have backfired, but instead hit the right nerve and skyrocketed. In the marketing world, being edgy has its risks, but as seen by the Old Spice campaign can have outrageous rewards as well.

Old Spice Commercial


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