You’ve probably heard there’s no hard-and-fast way to guarantee a video will go viral. And while it’s true that there’s no magic “Go Viral” button, a few simple tricks can help make sure nothing’s standing in the way of your next animated video becoming a social media hit.
As you probably already know, a video that’s obviously just an advertisement doesn’t have much chance of catching on as a social phenomenon – but even that isn’t a hard-and-fast rule because unusually clever (or unusually awful) commercials do go viral sometimes. The truth is, it’s not so much about what your video says, as how it says it.
Here are some tips for crafting a video that’s super likely to get shared, and re-shared, and shared again.
Surprise your audience
Let’s be honest here: a video that doesn’t ruffle any feathers is not going to go viral. To grab the audience you want, you’ve got to be willing to take risks. That may mean poking fun at your brand or taking on a controversial subject.
It doesn’t mean, though, that you have to (or should) shock or upset your audience. The point is that you’re not going to win any fans by talking about how many five-star reviews you’ve gotten, or how happy all your employees are.
In fact, cliches like those can serve as great jumping-off points for brainstorming. You could talk about how you respond to negative reviews or make fun of cheesy promotional videos. Venture outside the box a little.
Build an emotional connection
Viewers want characters they can connect with. Videos that inspire, motivate or otherwise inspire an emotional reaction are more memorable, and much more likely to get shared.
Just because your video is animated doesn’t mean it can’t build an emotional connection with the people who watch it – in fact, the simplicity of animation can sometimes connect even more powerfully than a live-action video can.
Start with this question: “How do I feel when I think about my brand?” Look for ways to make your audience feel the same way. A single powerful feeling will build more connection and brand loyalty than a thousand detailed stats ever could.
Focus on the story, not the message
It’s great to have a goal for your animated video. Maybe you want to showcase a new feature, promote a new campaign, or demonstrate your expertise in a certain area. But if your goal is too obvious, it’s going to overshadow all your great storytelling – and your video won’t get shared much.
In other words, you need to set your goal aside for now and focus on telling a story that’s going to grab your audience. That story can be simple, short, sweet and to-the-point – in fact, it probably should be! – but most of all, it needs to stand on its own.
Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to crafting a shareable viral video.
Ben Thomas is the author of several books, producer of a range of documentaries, and a globe-trotting journalist covering culture, history and science.