How to Make a Viral Video, Gangnam Style (Part 1)

Make a viral videoJust a few months ago if you wanted to make a viral video, chances are that the words “Gangnam Style” wouldn’t have immediately come to mind. Let’s be honest, at that point most of us had never even heard of those words. And yet, since mid-July when the eponymous four-minute Korean pop video by rapper Psy first made its way onto YouTube, they have become synonymous with viral videos.

Fast forward to today, and the music video parody of the Gangnam district of Seoul, a wealthy and trendy area similar to Beverly Hills, has garnered more than 335 million YouTube views. It currently averages more than 9 million hits a day and was recently recognized by Guinness World Records as the most liked video in YouTube history. As if that weren’t enough, five of the 10 most viral videos currently online pertain to “Gangnam Style.”

Any piece of content that successful — even if it is a slice of pop culture rather than a B2B marketing tool — can offer some valuable lessons for content marketers. So let’s break this “masterpiece” down and see what the characteristics of a viral video are.

Quite simply, viral videos need to be:

1) Entertaining — As B2B content marketers, most of us aren’t in the business of making music videos. Be that as it may, however, it’s important to keep in mind that the best way to make your video go viral is to make it entertaining. That means getting really creative and finding novel and, better yet, humorous ways of getting your message across. Don’t get me wrong, talking head videos and other standard fare of B2B marketers certainly have their place. Just don’t ever expect them to ever go viral.

2) Educational — While it would be a stretch to call “Gangnam Style” educational (though I for one didn’t know what Gangnam meant), B2B marketing videos absolutely should be. After watching your video, viewers should not only be entertained, but also better off for having learned something. You want to make sure that your video has some sort of intrinsic value that makes it useful to your target audience.

3) Compelling — To make a viral video, you’ve got to create something that people believe is worth sharing. While the bar is admittedly low in non-business contexts — as evidenced by the proliferation of viral cat videos — as B2B marketers we’re faced with a much more difficult task. We need to be able to elicit a reaction from our audience that is sufficient enough to get them to tell others about it.

4) Short & Sweet — We all have short attention spans, so remember to keep your videos sharply focused and on target. The reality is that most people will lose interest in your video — no matter how great you may think it is — within just two to three minutes.

If you’re going to make a viral video, make sure it has all of these characteristics. And, to get some tips on how to actually go about doing so, check out this post.


Kevin Cain
Kevin Cain
Content Marketing Director

Kevin Cain is the Content Marketing Director for BlueChip Communication, Australia's leading financial services communication firm. Before joining BlueChip, Kevin was the Director of Content Strategy for OpenView.
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