Complex Made Simple

How viral videos are made

While some become viral organically, others need to be crafted with specific rules in mind

The factors driving viral phenomena like Psy’s Gangnam Style, Banksy’s art or others into becoming organically viral might not be fully explained – or even explainable, as there is a tipping point there, but other content can, in fact, be prepared to become viral.

Most, if not all, content providers operating on the Internet are looking forward to the day their content goes viral, becomes known to the world and drives enormous traffic back to their platforms.

Jamie Bolding, the founder and CEO of Viral Thread, explains the factors behind what makes a video viral.

During a talk he presented at Step Conference 2016 on Monday (April 4) in Dubai, Bolding presented a breakdown of the so-called five pillars of shareable content.

The five pillars are:

  • Providers or platforms should look for good partners who have access to the target audience
  • Content should be relevant to this target audience – to which a provider has access to
  • Content should be original
  • Content is most likely to have a chance of going viral if it is or contains a video and, last but not least,
  • It needs to evoke emotions

The 5 factors of shareable content

This is the strategy Bolding and his team have followed to gain more than 4.2 million likes on their Facebook page, which was recently deleted due to licensing and copyright issues.

However, Bolding says he remains on “Team Facebook” and finds the world’s largest social network to be a primary video destination.

Viral Thread is now rebranding and looking to regain its popularity.

“Video is everything and Facebook is where you go to watch videos… That’s where you want to be, because more people are on Facebook, the statistics speak for themselves,” Bolding tells AMEinfo.

Audience vs. content

While every provider needs to identify its target audience and speak to them, it’s a slightly different equation with viral content.

“A viral video speaks to a bunch of different age groups. So, besides having to appeal to your audience, it also has to appeal to a mass audience in some way. Otherwise, it would be too niche,” he says.

“A viral video is one that is shared and watched a lot. So, for our videos, we have a massive audience of over-30s . And it doesn’t always have to be funny stuff – it just has to appeal to different emotions,” Bolding adds.

Paul Bieboer, editorial director at Viral Thread, says promoting viral content while trying to remain relevant to what’s happening around the world could be “quite tricky.”

“Having done this for a certain amount of time, you know what your audience responds to and the kind of stories they like.

“We write about anything that’s kind of trending or viral, so it’s quite a broad spectrum. But we always try to avoid shocking stories, so we try to keep it a bit more friendly, entertainment-based and shareable,” he tells AMEinfo.

Bieboer notes that the viral period of a single video or story ranges from a few hours to weeks. He gives the example of was American pop-singer Kesha and her court case against her manager, which was followed up by several consequent follow-up stories and managed to live on social media for weeks.

While Facebook might be the place to be right now, Bolding notes that SnapChat is on the rise and could very likely become a primary destination for video sharing and viewing sooner than we think.

He says SnapChat and Facebook “operate in very different ways, so there will always be space for both of them, but, I think, in terms of importance for brands, it could take over Facebook quite soon.”