But what is a viral video?

To be viral something has to be shared like crazy across social media, blogs, etc. And we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: nothing shares like photos and video. Even network morning shows have started covering the latest viral trends.

Viral video circulation started via e-mail well before YouTube or any other major video sharing sites enabled our urge to share. In the days of America Online and chain e-mails you may remember receiving an email containing a 3D animation of a dancing baby or other early GIF animations.  The “Dancing Baby” of 1996 is considered one of the earliest viral videos. It was interesting, entertaining and, therefore, heavily shared.

See, videos go viral for the same reasons word of mouth marketing works. If we enjoy something we want to spread the word. It’s human nature to share and recommend experiences we enjoyed. Digital cameras, camera phones and websites such as YouTube just facilitated a standard human behavior.

Viral Videos FAQ

Q: How many views does a video need to be considered viral?

A: It’s a sliding scale. YouTube celebrity Kevin Nalty’s opinion is that a video becomes viral if it reaches 5 million views within a 3-7 day period. Some argue thousands, others demand millions; the trick is a lot of views in a short amount of time.

Q: What is the ultimate test of a videos ‘virality’?

A: Longevity. There are a lot of viral videos out there, but only the best viral videos can stand the test of time.

Q: How can a brand or company harness the power of viral video marketing?

A: Don’t aim for viral. You cannot declare a video viral before it earns it. All you can aim for is a polished and engaging video that an audience even greater than yours will want to share. An important thing to remember is that this is not an advertisement. We don’t share advertisements, we share creativity, emotional engagement and/or things that make us think.


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