It’s official — the “Gangnam Style” video has passed a billion views. On a planet with a population a tad over 7 billion people, not all of whom have Internet access, that is a heck of a lot of views.
Marketers everywhere want to create videos with that kind of viral impact. Some are searching high and low for anyone who can rap in Korean; others are trying to invent dance moves as goofy but easy to imitate as that infectious pony prance. Neither of those approaches is likely to succeed — but are there any lessons we can learn from this lethally catchy video? Of course!
- Be yourself. PSY, the Gangnam star, probably doesn’t actually wear sunglasses, dinner jackets, and two-toned shoes in daily life, but he’s a professional comedian and rapper who’s clearly very comfortable (and having a ball!) performing in this absurd video. If you’re a goofball yourself, you can unleash that for good results – but if you’re not, don’t try to take on a persona that doesn’t feel comfortable, because:
- Funny is good, but not mandatory. Take off your marketer hat for a minute, and think of the videos you’ve forwarded to friends or posted on your personal Facebook page. Probably most of them are funny – but not necessarily all of them. Remember the Kony 2012 video about child soldiers in Africa? That was a serious video about a very serious topic. It went viral because the makers were able to:
- Provide something that people haven’t encountered before. Whether they’re informative or entertaining, viral videos are unique and new – they have a “You will not believe this” element that makes people want to share them. That element results when the creators:
- Brainstorm freely. The information you want to communicate may not be groundbreaking, so a video’s uniqueness more often results from how it is presented. (One of my personal favorites is on college financial aid – as presented by sock puppets.) Get your team together and play with some ideas, the more outrageous the better. They won’t all be practical, but one might provide the kernel for a catchy presentation you can develop on your budget. Once the video has been created, all you have to do is:
- Get noticed. This is obviously where an element of luck comes into play. “Gangnam Style” took off after stars like Katy Perry and Tom Cruise linked to it on Twitter and Ellen DeGeneres played it on her show. You’ve built a solid foundation in social media to launch it, though, right?
If it were easy to create a viral video, everyone would do it. Using these five ideas will give you a solid start.