Almost one-third of all internet users watch YouTube, streaming hundreds of millions of hours of content every day. In the United States alone, adults will spend an average of 5.5 hours with video content each day this year.
The numbers alone make it a no-brainer; if you have the medium to market your business, filling up a YouTube channel with content should be on your to-do list. Every business wants virality — whether it’s in the form of a meme, video or image — to catapult brand awareness and boost sales. But how do you stand out from the 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute?
As the founder and CEO of GYMGUYZ, an in-home mobile personal training company, I presented a challenge to myself and to my company: create a successful viral marketing video to generate more sales leads. For GYMGUYZ, creating our final masterpiece (“Shake It Off,” a GYMGUYZ Parody) came down to four simple rules:
There’s no easy answer or quick trick to creating an instant success. Hoping to find guidance in a viral video playbook is the same as reading an instruction manual on how to win the lottery. But if there’s one thing all of these videos have in common, it’s good, original content that captures the imagination.
How could we make a splash in a sea of mediocre uploads? With more cat videos, Adele song covers and makeup tutorials than the world knows what to do with, we had to come up with a concept that could stand out, so we had a bunch of adults sing and dance to one of the most popular teen sensations around, Taylor Swift. But instead of a straight cover, we wrote up our own lyrics to represent our company culture: working out and getting in shape.
Whatever You Do, Make Sure It’s Funny
A study by Elon University analyzed 20 of Time Magazine’s Best 50 Videos, identifying certain patterns that most often contributed to success. Laughter, irony and talent were just a few popular characteristics. All of these evoke some sort of emotion, and this starts the path to virality. Imagine your friend told you a joke or a funny story — chances are that you’d pass that joke or story on to your other friends and they’d soon tell their friends because they’d want to make their friends laugh too. This is exactly what is happening in the online world when it comes to viral videos, so it’s important to incorporate true emotion into your videos.
We decided to market ourselves by having GYMGUYZ staff parody Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” It’s current, funny, relatable (let’s be honest, who can’t relate to our line “I stay up too late, eating those cupcakes?”) and just the right amount of weird. We danced, sang and laughed a lot. But most importantly, we had fun doing it. And I think that comes through in the final cut.
Project Your Company Culture
If a video is successful, it is likely to be the first time many viewers hear about your company, especially if you are a young business. It’s for this reason that your video needs to ooze your brand’s personality without giving the “hard sell.”
I wanted to capture our culture in a video — to show people that we’re a lot of fun and have an amazing culture. After watching the video, I wanted viewers to think: “This would be an amazing place to work, as well as an amazing opportunity for a franchise.” If there’s one rule to follow when creating a viral marketing video, it’s this: just be yourself. Not only is it rewarding to portray your truest self, but your audience will appreciate that you’re also a genuine, walking, living, breathing human — and not just a company.
Make It Easy to Be Publicized
You need to make your video easy for viewers who like it to share with others. This is hands down the most powerful way to increase virality, and it’s incredibly easy. After you make a compelling, creative and funny video, share it with people who would care about what you have to say. Encourage them to share it with others, and you have started the ripples of virality.
Our video made its official debut in late October, and to date, it already has more than 500,000 Facebook views and over 45,000 YouTube views. We even have hopeful-franchisees approaching our company, saying they’d like to join our team. It may not be “Keyboard Cat”-level viral, but by these standards, the time, sweat and money spent were more than worth it.