are always asking me to produce a video that will go viral. They throw out
the word “viral” like it’s an ingredient you add to food.
“Just add in a little salt.”
Their request for a viral video is typically followed with guidelines
that handcuff all of my creativity.
“Just don’t be too controversial. We don’t want to offend our
clients. Just stick to the facts of our product.”
If you want a video to go viral, it better be extremely funny or have
a little edge to it because no one will forward a video unless it
connects with their emotional root.
Think about the videos you forward to your friends. I’ll bet my next
drink that the last video you forwarded to friends made you laugh. If
it didn’t make you life, then it likely had some sex appeal to it
because those are typically the emotions that ignite viral videos.
Would you forward a commercial video on a new sofa that was neither
funny nor entertaining? Of course not, but there is a better chance
you would forward the video to friends if it had an edgy scene or
conversation on the sofa that made you think or laugh.
Of course, there are exceptions, like the viral video that provides
practical information. People will forward an informational video,
assuming it holds their attention and provides expertise to a topic.
It’s simple sociology, which is why you need to learn how NOT to kill
a video if you’re trying to produce a viral video.
1) Don’t think outside the box
because that is already a cliché and it’s only going to ignite average
ideas. Instead – think of creating a new thought or idea. Back to the
example of the boring couch you’re trying to sell at your furniture
You can either A) showcase your furniture or B) produce a video of a
couple on your couch, talking about your product. You can be more
creative by having them discuss what it is going to take place on this
couch when no one is watching. Drop in some innuendo because WE ALL
KNOW sex sells.
But you don’t always need to exploit sex to sell a viral video.
Perhaps, this couple discusses a topic that makes viewers think about
life, or their furniture or their kids in a NEW way.
2) Don’t produce a video that makes people
I produce lots of web videos for nightclubs, restaurants and lounges.
I’ve had a few owners tell me they want the video to move faster so
the patron can see everything in 45-seconds.
The end result is that the viewer sees nothing because each shot is
less than 2-seconds. I know we live in an ADD society (because I
likely may have it) but that doesn’t mean you need to tell everything
about your product in a limited amount of time. If you have a great
story or product, produce several videos, rather than a longer one.
I produced one video for a politician who claimed he had the best
story of any politician since Abe Lincoln. He told me I couldn’t tell
his story in 2-minutes because he had too big of a career, which
fittingly matched his ego. The client is always right, so we produced
a monstrous documentary that few people watched. That video never
gained traction. If you want to produce a video with viral
aspirations, make sure you focus the message.
3) Don’t use crappy video.
Sometimes we have to work with the product we’re given, but if the
video is blurry or the audio is hard to understand, don’t use it. This
video will represent your company, so you want to make sure the video
quality represents your highest standards.
I run a company which produces social media videos that the client
actually shoots. I’ve had to send the camera back to the client many
times because their hands were shaky while shooting. The second time,
they got it right and the quality was superb. Don’t force it. If you
have to redo the video, then go the extra mile, just like you do with
4) Don’t be the judge. If your
audience consists of 22 year olds and you’re 55 years old, don’t try
to take on the role of expert. I’ve produced lots of nightclub videos
that targeted college kids. I ran the video by several of my young
interns before I presented it to the client. I didn’t do that because
I was questioning my work. I did that because I wanted to watch their
expressions to see if it moved them in the areas where I wanted to
motivate them. No man is an island, so take advantage of the other
castaways next to you.
Mark Macias is owner of
He produces social media
videos for all kinds of clients and consults on publicity campaigns.
You can read more at
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