How to make a viral video on social

A step-by-step guide on how to make a viral video on social
Videos can go viral on a variety of different platforms. But what goes into creating a viral video in the first place? And how can you ensure the largest audience possible sees your video content?

Sprout’s video team is well-versed in creating video content that reaches large audiences. Here are some of our expert tips that you can put towards your own video production and optimization.

  1. Pinpoint your goals
    Knowing you want something to go viral isn’t enough for a solid social media marketing strategy. You also need to know why you want your video to go viral.

Are you looking for brand awareness? Hoping to grow your online following? Or do you want to generate conversions?

Each purpose will require your team to create different videos for audience members at different stages of the funnel. Know your goals before you begin production.

  1. Know your audience
    If you don’t know anything about the people you’re targeting, your video will fall flat every time. To create a piece of content that will perform well with your target audience and beyond, you need to know what will resonate with them and make them want to share your video.

One way to understand your target audience is to create social media personas and an empathy map. These will give you insight into what will grab your audience’s attention and what they look for online.

  1. Start with a brief
    Plan everything out thoroughly and create a creative strategy brief and a storyboard. This will shed light on your actual goals, key messages, tone, length, distribution channel and more.

A good brief helps align messaging and a video’s overall purpose from the content team all the way to the video production team. This way all of your content will be cohesive and have the same overall vision, strengthening your brand. Here are a few sections your brief might include:

Working title: This will help guide the overall concept.
Description: What do you want your video to be about? What is its purpose?
Key items to include: Are there specific points you need to hit in your video?
Related content: What related content do you have that you can reference, or include?
Competing content: Who are you competing with?
Platforms: What platforms will this be shared on? What versions do you need for various platforms?
Video format: Will this video be filmed vertically? Horizontally?
Keywords: Especially important for platforms like YouTube that have an SEO-driven search element.
Important hashtags/mentions to include: Important for trends and partnerships.
Calls to action: Are you asking your audience to do something?

  1. Start strong
    Every good viral video grabs attention immediately. The best way to do this is by using the word “you” within the first five seconds of your video—research shows if your video uses language like “you” or “your” in the first few seconds, you get a higher retention rate.

Other ways to start your video for maximum results include:

Create a plot twist or be unpredictable
Create a “hook” at the beginning: ask a question, introduce a list etc.
Make your content #relatable
Engage your viewers’ emotions
Incorporate attention-grabbing audio/music clips
Forget about being promotional

  1. Tell a story
    Content is all about storytelling. As viral videos skew shorter, you want to tell a compelling story in a short amount of time, by choosing a universal context for your creative concept. For example, the context of “Monday Mood” is universal and doesn’t need much time to explain.

Play to tropes your audience knows so you can jump right in without much backstory. This is a great way to create relatable content your audience will enjoy and will want to share with friends and family. It’s also a great starting point to upend expectations and to grab attention.