By Zen Yieh
If you’ve been dreaming of churning out the next viral video—or wondering why your last video masterpiece didn’t reach more eager eyes—let’s take it from the top. We did it, and you can too!
We’re speaking from recent experience with a UC Irvine Department of Chemistry video, no less. Allow us one little toot from our virtual horn: This baby took in over 50,000 views in less than one week. And those who watched, subscribed, favorited, and shared are still passing it on after 80,000 views:
So how did we do it?
Trust, us—there’s an actual science to this, so to speak. The biggest marketers in the world maintain top-secret personal theories. Here’s what we think worked for us.
- Know your audience and create something that resonates with them. Our target viewer fell into a specific niche: chemists and scientists, current and potential chemistry students, and self-proclaimed science nerds. They’re a big group. From there, we wanted the non-science-minded friends they shared it with to enjoy it, too.
- Tie it into pop culture before the wave breaks. Most of us could only watch the first few parent-kid dance videos to Pharrell’s “Happy.” Yet leave it to Disney to create a film with a bubble that just won’t burst. After UCI Chemistry Department professors nearly went nuts listening to their kids singing “Let It Go,” they decided to join the bandwagon and rack up video views in the process. Writing new lyrics with a chemistry bent sure helped them get the original ones out of their heads. At least temporarily…
- Tell a good story. Keep your focus on the story and the emotion you want it to create over the number of views you’d like to hit. Do you want viewers to laugh? Cry? Both? Emotions make people share and share and share—especially warm, fuzzy ones. Touch an upbeat nerve and tug a heartstring if possible.
- Add elements people love. We’re all suckers for quick “I’m taking a break” videos with humor, pets (miraculous tricks or doing human things), weddings, blunders and adorable babies—as long as they have a unique spin. Keep it clean and family-friendly, but offer something that will get people talking.
- Rehearse to make it great; have fun to keep it fresh. Did you notice that our video’s lead singer was really, really into it? In addition to being a chemistry grad student, Gianmarc Grazioli is also a musician, singer and songwriter. (Raw talent helps.) Your video length also needs to be in proportion to its interest. “From the very beginning, we knew we had the difficult task of juxtaposing textbook-technical chemistry lyrics with a relatable, everyday main character and child-like humorous visuals in order to make the video appreciated both by actual chemists as well as enjoyable and accessible to any viewer,” says producer Shaunt Kouyoumdijan. “When we heard the chemists’ kids start singing along to our parody, we knew we made something special.”
- Add a catchy title and description blurb to capture attention. Then lead in with memorable music or a captivating opener. (Think: a suspenseful or adrenaline-packed opening film scene.)
- Get it out there. Yes, Facebook, yes Twitter, yes blogs, yes, share! Ask for comments and respond graciously. Consider tweeting it to a few select celebs who might appreciate the subject matter. Katy Perry and Taylor Swift (among many others) are just real people who have catapulted amateur videos to viral success through a simple click and share. Don’t be shy—overshare.