Here at The Draw Shop, we’ve always said that going viral is overrated.

But then again, we’ve had our videos go viral numerous times – like this book trailer, or this hybrid live-action/whiteboard and cartoon animation music video

So it’s easy for us to say that like it’s no big deal!

The truth is, while going viral won’t make all your marketing dreams come true, it’s still valuable. Reaching hundreds of thousands, even millions, of potential customers is objectively awesome.

So today we’ll discuss how to get a video to go viral – on YouTube, or any other social media platform. We’ll also share specific advice to make it happen, which you can use to attract more viewers to your marketing videos.

Let’s get right to it!

how to make a viral video

Hit a viral emotion

Do you know who shares a video that made them shrug and say, “Well, that’s interesting, I guess?”

No one! It doesn’t happen.

To make a video go viral, you have to make people feel something by establishing an emotional connection in the video. Ideally, it needs to be a strong emotion, something that translates well into action. For example, one of these five will do:

  1. Joy
  2. Surprise
  3. Fear
  4. Anger
  5. Love

But creating viral content is not just about triggering the right emotion – or anyone would be able to make viral videos, all day every day, and the idea would lose all meaning.

To make a video go viral online, you need to persuade your viewers that they are in control. That they can do something in response to their intense emotions. That they can – and should – spread their joy, publicly proclaim their anger, or blow someone else’s mind.

This fascinating scientific study refers to this important element as dominance, and proves that it’s critical for achieving virality. You should check it out!

(Actually, on second thought, it’s a dense document, and it’s the middle of a busy week… so here’s a great summary of the study from HBR. You’re welcome!)

Make something amazingly useful

Here’s an idea: you don’t want to make a video go viral so everyone with a pulse watches it.

Sure, you’ll get a lot of eyeballs on your content and increase your brand awareness – but chances are, 99,999% of them won’t belong to your ideal customers. And your effort will generate very few sales, if at all.

You don’t need that kind of virality! It’s counter-productive to what you really want – get as many paying customers as you can while investing the minimum amount of effort possible!

So, instead of aiming to make a viral video with maximum mass appeal, try this: create something wildly useful for your target market.

And when we say “wildly useful” we mean…

Something they won’t be able to ignore. This form of viral video marketing captures your target audience by giving them something that will get them talking, and sharing, and applying what you show them. A video that will be so valuable to them that coming back to you and using your products and services will be a no-brainer!

Here’s a great example on how you can engineer “smash hit” content (not just video) that makes your brand money – and not just in the short term like most viral videos, but year after year.

Get some eager sneezers

How do you get a video to go viral? You make sure as many people as possible share it.

How do you get people to share it? You show the video to a relatively small group of “eager sneezers” / fans / brand advocates, whatever you want to call them, and let them spread it far and wide. And then, if your video is relevant and valuable (entertaining, useful, or both), there’s a good chance that these things will happen:

  • Viewers outside of your group of “eager sneezers” will like the video and share it, amplifying the message. People are more likely to spread a piece of content on their social networks once they see that someone else has done it – that’s the magic of social proof! Or, you know, Catch-22 of social proof, if you’re feeling less than generous…
  • The initial helping of views, shares, and comments will bring your soon-to-be-viral video to the attention of search algorithms. If you’re thinking about how to make a YouTube video go viral, this is almost always the way it goes: a good number of early viewers + algorithmic boost = ever-increasing exposure.

However, what if you don’t have the luxury of access to a numerous, hungry audience you can tap for views and engagement at a moment’s notice?

Well, in that case, you can borrow someone else’s…


Want to create high-converting whiteboard and cartoon animation videos – consistently? You’re in luck! We have developed a neat checklist you can use to fail-proof all your marketing videos before you release them to the world. Click the link right below to grab it:

Download the free checklist: “10 Things Every Marketing Video Must Have to Convert”


Amplify your video through influencers

How do you get a video to go viral if you can’t attract enough viewers early on?

You turn to the people who do, social media influencers.

Most of the time business owners use influencer marketing for straightforward selling… but you don’t have to. Asking online influencers to share your video isn’t just an easier ask than pitching them a joint venture – it’s also a great stepping stone for creating a solid relationship that becomes the foundation for future “serious” business partnerships!

So if you’d like to make your video go viral, give it the much-needed initial boost by reaching out to influencers. You can do it in several steps:

  1. Make a list of people who already have the kind of customers you’re looking for – and whose products or services don’t directly compete with yours.
  2. Reach out to these influencers and mention that you have a video that their audience may find valuable. Politely ask for permission to show it to them.
  3. Follow up periodically until you get a yes or a no. If it’s a no, accept it and move on. If it’s a yes, send them the video. Circle back later and ask if they enjoyed it.

Oh, and along the way, make sure you avoid these mistakes!

Do the basics of video SEO

Right now, Google owns two of the world’s biggest search engines – Google and YouTube. That means, if you used to ignore video SEO, you can’t afford to anymore. Whether you need to make your video go viral on YouTube, or to do the same for your self-hosted video, you want to follow these guidelines:

  1. For starters, always do topic research and keyword research before you create new videos. Making these practices an integral part of your video marketing strategy is always a good idea.
  2. Write at least 400 words of high-quality companion copy for the video, using your target keywords throughout. Alternatively, insert the transcript of the video right underneath it. SEO-friendly copy is still a great ranking signal, and there’s no reason you can’t use it to make your video go viral!
  3. Create a keyword-rich video title that will be search engine friendly and attention-grabbing at the same time. You can use free tools like this headline analyzer to determine if your title is good, or needs improving.
  4. If using a third-party platform like YouTube, take advantage of tags and other tools that make your videos more discoverable. That way, people who search for similar videos have a higher chance to come across your content than if you were to simply publish it and hold your breath!
  5. Make sure you accumulate as many backlinks to your video as possible. The more authoritative websites link to your video content, the better. All these backlinks tell Google and other search engines that your video is legit, and it’s worth displaying higher in the search results.

Surf a trend or support a cause

From time to time, the entire Internet becomes obsessed by a trend or a meme, and everyone from average joes to multinational corporations follows suit… with varying degrees of success.

When things go wrong, you get hilarious PR disasters like these viral campaigns that backfired spectacularly. You don’t even have to search for negative examples – just look around you!

For instance:

  • Every Memorial Day companies are trying to attach their message to a somber occasion in a really tone-deaf way, like this. OR
  • Any time there’s a new funny meme making rounds on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube, you have corporations trying to get in on the hype in a truly embarrassing fashion.

But when done right, trend-surfing can give you a significant boost of views, traffic, and leads without expending too much effort.

Here’s a positive example: remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and how it took the world by storm? That was the perfect trend to attach your brand to! There was practically no way to do it wrong, as long as you followed the rules, used humor – and made someone miserable by dumping a bucket of ice water on them.

The challenge itself was a brilliant example of how to make a video go viral by supporting a worthy cause. Chances are, your target market cares about something. If you can zero in on what it is and tell them, “Hey – we care about this cause, too!” they will happily spread your message far and wide.

Just make sure this is actually something your customers are interested in. Don’t pick a token cause to support and then act surprised when it doesn’t get traction!

How do you get a video to go viral? Start with this

When talking about how to make a video go viral online, there’s one all-important step everybody glosses over…

Step One is: make an effective video (duh)!

If you skip that, you could implement every single strategy in this post – and your video would still have zero chance of going viral. Well, maybe as something people would make fun of… but not as great content from a brand they’d want to follow, identify with, or buy from.

(Plus, a bad video will convert poorly even if it does go viral, so there’s that!)

Let’s forget about setting a new world record for views, and focus on making your video as high-converting as possible. Deal? Awesome.

To help you do that, we put together a checklist that gives you all the essential elements for making a persuasive marketing video. Get it for free right here:

Download “10 Things Every Marketing Video Must Have to Convert”