What is viral? Well, according to Patrick Cox, founder of both the Male Cancer Awareness Campaign and the Small Charities Coalition, viral is “something that snowballs and grows.” And Patrick certainly knows his stuff, as he’s responsible for several viral videos all made to raise awareness (and money!) for male cancers, which is why he was here giving our latest Lunchworks talk last week.

So how do you get a million views? A £75,000 budget ought to do the trick. But Patrick can knock a couple of zeros of that figure. His solution – find your ‘nugget’.

You may be wondering what your ‘nugget’ is?

Patrick’s answer: “Your nugget is a piece of gold. Your first brilliant step. Your Willy Wonka Golden Ticket that has the power to open doors.”

You have to ask yourself why your video deserves to exist. What is the reason behind it? The success of a viral is just as much to do with the story behind the video, as well as the video itself. Take the first ever viral YouTube hit, for example. What began as a young boy, Ghyslain Raza, reenacting a scene from his beloved Star Wars films, turned into a viral sensation known as Star Wars Kid.

Ghyslain never intended for the footage to be seen, but when it fell into the hands of some fellow students it was uploaded online – and so Star Wars Kid was born. An edited version of the video was then created, adding Star Wars music and lightsaber special effects.

Despite being bullied horrifically as a consequence, Ghyslain decided to make good of the viral success thrust upon him and now works to highlight the effects of bullying that social media can cause.

But what about creating a viral success?

A viral video needs to promote, showcase, network and build access to VIPs. But most of all, it should be inspiring. You need to consider what inspires you. A video that inspired Patrick was the Dollar Shave Club’s clip that took YouTube by storm, in 2012. Not only was it a hilarious example, but it also increased the company’s sales overnight and this can apply to charity campaigns too.

One thing the Dollar Shave Club’s video utilised very well was humour. Having a humorous spin on things can highlight an important message, while still keeping people engaged. It also helps people who may not already be attached to you cause to become interested in what you do.

How do you get people to engage?

You could have the best idea in the world for a viral hit, but it isn’t worth anything unless you get viewers to engage with it.

Here is Patrick’s list of must-haves:

  • Cleverness – does your concept do something smart with its delivery?

  • ‘Wow-ness’ – does your video get people thinking and even raise a few eyebrows?

  • Originality – try not to copy what has been done before; no one likes a copycat.

  • Brilliance – is your video smooth, straight-to-the-point and clever?

  • Keep it short – the recommended time for a viral video is around two minutes.

  • Timing – don’t release your video around big campaigns like Children in Need or Comic Relief, as you won’t be noticed. Also chose a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday for a launch – people are too distracted during the weekend and Monday is always a busy day for business.

  • Hard work – unless you are really lucky, a viral video doesn’t happen without some hard work. As Patrick said: “Creating the viral is only 30% of it – the rest is down to hard work.”

Below is a great example, from MCAC…

So, what about after it’s gone live?

The hard work, as Patrick said, is promoting your video. You have to work hard to be seen when there are 100 hours of video uploaded onto YouTube every, single minute. A good video does speak for itself, but you need to be prepared to put in the effort when it comes to social media and talking to the press. You may even want to get a celebrity onboard to help you promote your work. But whatever happens, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and this could take time.

Here are a few tips:

  • Talk to your organisation – colleagues and supporters – and encourage them to spread the word.

  • Have a launch day and invite everyone you can think of, you want to raise awareness remember?

  • Start a hashtag on Twitter and Facebook so people can follow the news of the launch and pass it on.

  • Don’t forget to utilise other social media channels – take a still and put it on Pinterest, record a clip with Instagram’s new video function.

  • Leave your video as a response to other people’s videos on YouTube. Is your video about women’s rights? Link to a popular female YouTuber, or videos talking about confidence.

  • Share on other video sites, like Vimeo, and put it on your website too.

  • Encourage bloggers and vloggers to show their support by mentioning it, or including it in their latest post.

And if you need a little bit more inspiration, it’s time to watch the latest efforts from Patrick and the rest of the MCAC team. Introducing Skyballs…

It’s proven that going down the video route can certainly pay off, but if you want some viral help, or just a few tips, drop us a line at hello@reasondigital.com.

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