Viral is probably the most misused word in marketing circles today. I was once asked in a lecture for some tips on how to create a viral video, I simply replied to put some kittens in it, which led to some confused faces.

Consultants from a variety of backgrounds proclaim to clients that they will create a viral campaign for them, when in fact 9 times out of 10 the resulting effort is nothing more than a damp squib.

To understand what viral really means then the best bet is to sit in on a biology lecture to learn about viruses.

While there’s no recipe for success, here’s a few tips for inspiration, with samples and some further explanation underneath.

1. Put Some Kittens In It

In terms of content, cats are hot stuff on the Internet. Just do a search on YouTube for cats, kittens, etc and have a look at the amount of results and views for videos. There’s even Kittehroulette, which serves up random cat videos if you’re that obsessed by feline videos. IKEA certainly used this insight for their ‘Happy Inside’ video.

2. Kids Are Cute

We are hardwired to show affection to babies. No surprise that videos featuring infants are popular on YouTube, whether it’s Evian’s roller babies or Star Wars according to a 3 year old. Olvarit tapped into this insight in a clever way to launch their latest ingredient range by organising an exclusive tasting-dinner in a Michelin starred restaurant.

3. Did You See That?

Spectacular trick shots and how did they do that videos are some of the most shared clips on the Internet. Trickshots are popular stuff and have been doing the rounds for a number of years like Nike’s Ronaldinho crossbar challenge or Roger Federer hitting balls into a Mercedes. BeepBeep.ie incorporated this into their video to drive views.

4. Star Wars

Geeks like Star Wars. Geeks hang out on the Internet. Star Wars clips are popular Q.E.D. Don’t believe me? Someone remixed this badminton video replacing the racquets with lightsabers and it clocked up a lot of views. Not too long later, this promo video for the BBC’s coverage of the US Masters appeared.

5. Muppets

Like Star Wars, the Muppets are hot stuff on the Internet. I love Javier Douglas’ unofficial LCD Soundsystem music video featuring Kermit the Frog and friends.

6. Parody

In reality this should really be about memes, but I thought a parody would be easier to illustrate. The original Inception trailer was really impactful and generated a lot of hype of the movie. There were a number of parodies of the trailer, Inebriation was probably my favourite. I like the way Coca-Cola tapped into this for one of their Christmas ads, which I’ve embedded below.

7. Infographic

Infographics are a good way to visually communicate statistical information. They are ten a penny these days, but still very effective. Here’s one we made at work on social media statistics in Ireland and here’s one IBEC created to illustrate the strengths of the Irish economy. I’ve chosen to embed one for a much more worthy cause below entitled the girl effect.


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Piaras Kelly
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