How to make a viral video

How to make a viral video

Michael Baumgartner
July 3, 2023
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In this post, we will cover what a viral video is, top techniques to create a viral video with relevant examples. Let’s dig in!

What is a viral video?

It’s a video that gets widespread attention through organic sharing among viewers. Much like a virus, it spreads rapidly on social media platforms.

What makes a video go viral?

Pinpointing the exact formula for a viral video is as unpredictable as capturing lightning in a bottle. However, there are certain strategies we can employ to enhance our chances:

1. Emotional attachment

Aim to evoke a specific emotion in the viewer - be it sadness, happiness, or anger. The goal is to elicit a strong emotional response, prompting viewers to share it. Political videos often master this tactic. For instance, take a look at this video from The Lincoln Project:

It alternates between visuals of mice in motion and political situations, all while the narrator's voice fluctuates from melancholy to eerie, inciting fear and disdain in the viewer. A perfect cocktail for a political video to go viral!

Let’s see another example from Coca-Cola. 

"Masterpiece" lives up to its name, surprising the viewer with a blend of captivating visuals and wonder. By intertwining a "Night at the Museum" theme, the video inspires a sense of awe and leaves you eager to share the joy and surprise with others.

Pro Tip: Videos evoking positive emotions generally perform better in a business setting.
2. Emotional rollercoaster

Ensure your video doesn't maintain a constant emotional tone throughout, as this could lead to viewer boredom. And who wants to share a boring video? Instead, strive for an emotional rollercoaster, keeping your viewers engaged with constant emotional peaks and valleys.

Refer again to Coca-Cola’s "Masterpiece" for inspiration, or consider this example from Walmart:

The playful interaction between the characters alongside jovial music captures the viewer's attention, enticing them to share the video.

Another example is Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”.

It offers an ongoing series of surprises, keeping you hooked till the end.

Pro Tip: Create a sense of surprise or curiosity as early as possible in your video to keep the audience from scrolling. This is also called a “hook”.
3. Brand Pulsing

If your logo is too intrusive, viewers are more likely to stop watching, even if they are loyal customers. Try brand pulsing instead, subtly weaving your brand image throughout the video. Studies show that this technique can increase viewership by up to 20 percent. Rewatch Coca-Cola’s "Masterpiece" for an excellent demonstration of this technique.

Pro Tip: You can also boost your content, either as an ad or creators with similar audiences sharing your content at a cost. This can also help your odds of going viral.
4. Social Capital

When sharing content on social media, everyone wants to appear cool, knowledgeable, or fun. This desire is essentially what social currency is all about. Here are the top categories of content most likely to generate social capital, prompting users to share them:

4.1. Humorous and Entertaining

Funny, enjoyable videos spread joy and amusement, positioning sharers as a source of entertainment.

4.2. Informative and Educational

Insightful, problem-solving videos allow sharers to be perceived as helpful, knowledgeable, or authoritative within their networks.

4.3. Relevance and Timeliness

Videos that tie into current events, pop culture, or trending topics have a higher likelihood of going viral. Sharing these videos implies that the sharer is connected with the latest happenings.

4.4. Uniqueness 

Content that is unique, unusual, or unexpected tends to generate curiosity. People share such videos to be seen as trendsetters, helping them stand out from the crowd.

4.5. Social Proof and Identity

Viral videos often resonate with a particular group or community's values or interests. Sharing these videos reinforces an individual's social identity within their community.

4.6. Emotional Appeal

Viral videos frequently trigger strong emotions. Sharing these videos can help individuals emotionally connect with others, enhancing their social currency.


Creating a viral video is more an art than an exact science. However, leveraging techniques such as emotional attachment, the emotional rollercoaster, brand pulsing, and social currency can significantly improve your odds. Remember, a successful viral video incites a powerful emotional response, sustains viewer engagement, seamlessly integrates the brand, and provides viewers with ample social currency to motivate sharing.

Michael Baumgartner
July 3, 2023
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Meet The Author
CEO of Zebracat
A seasoned entrepreneur and AI enthusiast, Michael frequently shares insights on the intersection of technology and marketing. His writing focuses on leveraging artificial intelligence to enhance marketing strategies.

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