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What exactly ‘clicks’ in the vast viral video world?

It’s difficult to pinpoint exact traits of a successful viral video phenomenon. It’s not easy to tell why some of them become a worldwide rage and others vanish without a trace. So what makes any seemingly innocuous video go viral and is it possible to make one or know beforehand that you actually making one?

Web video expert Paul Kontonis recently mentioned in a guest post to the YouTube blog that the futures of both social and content are getting highly intertwined. Social needs content and vice versa. The former facilitates the discovery and smooth sharing of content. Video offers people something meaningful to share as well as unearth through their social graphs.

The first noticeable viral video, according to some accounts, is a clip (the Lazy Sunday) from ‘Saturday Night Live’, the then popular TV show. It generated around five million views. The song video in 2005, no longer online, followed a couple of comedians from the TV show on a leisurely Sunday afternoon watching ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, while rapping and eating cupcakes.

‘Star Wars Kid’ was another early video, which grew popular quickly. It was about a student who made a video in school premises of himself trying a swing at a golf ball retriever as a weapon. Uploaded in 2002, it was later removed. Though a duplicate one was uploaded in 2006, viewed over 24 million times, was replicated by several others. ‘Star Wars’ creator George Lucas also made a version for ‘The Colbert Report’, a TV show.

Keen to give their fledgling brands a push in the vast viral online world marketers are groping for a success formula, with minimal spending and maximum fuss. So what exactly ‘clicks’ in the vast viral video world? Here are a few vital viral tips:

1. At the outset, do not set about creating a viral wave. Most often than not, a simple, honest idea with an unpretentious execution tends to work than those lofty concepts.

2. The focus should be on enjoying the whole process of making a video rather than the end. Keep your target audience and think how you can engage and entertain them better. It should not be a pre-planned ‘shock’, to make people sit up and take notice. Rather keep it light-hearted, funny and enjoyable. Do not un-complicate the message needlessly.

3. The target users (with no preconceived notions of the same) should be able to relate to the content and to grasp the core content quickly. This is important because attention spans these days are really fickle and short.

4. Do not plug the brand too aggressively or else it all can backfire. Subtlety and not over-aggressiveness will take your brand a long way. What new you are bringing to your prospects also matters.

In the next post, we shall consider a few other important aspects of creating a viral buzz.