10 Factors Of Viral Propensity

  • by November 11, 2011

I don’t believe you can make a “viral video.” There. I said it.

However, you can game the system. In a media landscape where earned media continues to gain greater and greater importance, we find ourselves consulting brands on analytical ways to judge a qualitative product. A way to judge propensity.

And, sometimes, you can do it by analyzing 10 factors…

1. Authenticity

Viral videos must have a sense of real-ness. It can be planned out, but the video must feel in-the-moment. No one wants to be a shill for your blatant marketing.

2. Irreproducible

A video can be irreproducible in three ways. First, if the video captures a moment in time that cannot be recreated. Second, if the video shows someone doing something so painful, embarrassing, etc. that the general population of viewers would not try it. Third, if the video shows someone doing something the general population of viewers could not do themselves -- this is the one with most opportunity for brands.



3. Odd

This is one of the hardest to define and most subjective. When a video has the quality of oddness, it often elicits a reaction of “huh?” or “what?” Find the weirdest person in your office, put him or her in the video.

4. Funny

Quite simply, will the video make people laugh? But, very importantly: not just you! Will it make a general, broader audience laugh?

5: Musical

Musical doesn’t just mean some background music. It might include the primary subject singing, someone dancing to music, or music setting the scene for the video.

6. Surprising

This might occur through an unforeseen twist, an event people haven’t seen before, or something that happens that scares the viewers.

7. Impressive

A video is impressive if it elicits a reaction of “wow.” There are a few reasons it might do this -- an exhibition of an extreme talent, someone doing something so crazy it is hard to believe, or something being done that must have taken an extreme amount of time to make happen. Often, “impressive,” “surprising” and “odd” can go hand-in-hand.

8. Parodied or Copied

Of all the traits, this is probably the most difficult to accurately assess ahead of time. But, you can ask yourself some questions to help better assess its potential for being parodied or copied. Is there a person with such overt personality characteristics that people will be inclined to mimic them? Are you teaching or showing something that people will want to try themselves?

9. Painful or Embarrassing

As sad as it might be, if someone gets hurt or embarrassed in the video, it is going to help the video’s viral potential. NOTE: I AM IN NO WAY CONDONING OR SUGGESTING PEOPLE SHOULD INTENTIONALLY HURT OR EMBARRASS OTHERS. But, sometimes you catch this accidentally. Always keep the camera rolling!

10. Pop Culture Timeliness

This attribute has the potential for two additional benefits for your video.

Jumpstart: Having a video tied to a timely pop culture event can help kick-start the viral growth of your video. It will instantly have more relevance because it is tied to an event that is already at the forefront of popular interest.

Longevity: Not only can Pop Culture Timeliness jumpstart a video, but it can also make a video’s relevance last longer. The video does not have to create a lasting relevance of its own, but can instead piggyback on the lasting relevance of the pop culture event.

Final Words of Advice

However, as much as you may try to break it down scientifically, remember that it is still much more art than science. It’s just a matter of applying some science to your art.

1 comment about "10 Factors Of Viral Propensity".
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  1. Mark Walker from aka Media Mark, November 11, 2011 at 1:37 p.m.

    for all the articles saying "you can't MAKE a video go viral"- this is the only one I have seen that tells me HOW TO do it! Nice work!

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