There is no formula to create viral videos – the very nature of viral content is that it’s out of your control – but there are best practices you can employ for all the videos you release.
Viral videos seem to pop up out of nowhere and paint pictures of overnight success. But what does it really take to get that kind of exposure?
Viral videos by nature are unpredictable, but there are certainly some best practices you can use for all the music videos you release. Even if they don’t go “viral,” these tips can certainly help you increase your exposure.
I’ll use the recent viral success of Back to the 90s as an example to illustrate some of these tips. New Artist Model member Jensen Reed, along with Ben Giroux, created a killer video and launch that you can definitely learn a lot from.
The exponential power of a share
I want to start this off by saying there is no formula to a viral video. In fact, the very nature of viral content is that it’s out of your control. It doesn’t have much to do with the amount of money you throw at the promotion; otherwise all the big label acts would get viral video after viral video.
So what makes a viral video? In short: share-ability. It all comes down to how many people share the video online and on social media.
Think about it like this: you share the video to your 5,000-person fan base. Your reach is 5,000. But each time your fans share the video, it’s put in front of their friends, and then their friends’ friends, resulting in exponentially increasing reach.
With this in mind, your number one goal should be to get your fans to share, and by nature, people only tend to share things they relate to. Maybe it’s nostalgia, or it’s funny, or it speaks to some deep emotion – some large-scale idea that a ton of people can understand on a profound level.
The success of Ben Giroux and Jensen Reed’s Back to the 90s, which got 30+ million views on Facebook in the first week is a great example. The song uses ’90s nostalgia and humor in both the lyrics and the visuals to relate to the ’90s generation. There’s a huge group of people online who identify with this ’90s nostalgia, so once it caught on, it spread like wildfire.
Build up your skills
The very first video you put out there probably won’t be a viral success. Production quality definitely plays a part in whether or not a video goes viral and those skills take some time to build up.
In fact, Jensen Reed released 16 music videos prior to the hit success of Back to the 90s. And most importantly, through those videos he’s been able to build up his editing skills, allowing him to handle most of the editing for Back to the 90s himself.
Whenever you are looking to successfully launch a music video or new song, collaboration can be a powerful force to tap into.
Getting more creative minds involved in a project can definitely make the end product that much more incredible. There will be more ideas brought to the table that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.
Plus, you’ll be able to draw from each collaborator’s expertise. You can’t be a pro at everything, so if you can pull in people who have more experience than you in filming, editing, costume design, or acting, you’ll end up with a much better video.
But more importantly, when it’s time to launch, your collaborators will be ready to share the video with their audiences, and that means a bigger reach right off the bat!
Think about it like this. If you share the video, you might reach your 5,000-person fan base. But if you, your co-writer, the cinematographer, the set designer, and the effects guy all share on release day, you might reach 15,000 people!
Ben and Jensen went a step further and held a release party before the video was set to launch. They screened the video and asked everyone to share when it went live to get the ball rolling.
Even if you don’t have a production team to party with, you could certainly have a private event for some fans the day before a big video or song release. Turn it into an exclusive event for your email list, give them an early look, and harness their sharing power.
Be prepared for the attention
This is perhaps the most important point of this whole article. A viral video won’t do much for you if you’re not in the position to take advantage of the attention.
You want to get as many of those new viewers as possible to connect with you, whether that’s subscribing or following you on social, signing up for emails, or purchasing your music. It needs to be easy to go deeper. That way, you’ll be able to contact them again and funnel that exposure towards your next project.
The first step is to make sure all your social pages and links are up to date. Make sure you have a link to your website, your store, and to sign up for emails.
On YouTube, add all the necessary links to the description box of your video, including your website, other social channels, email signup, and a place where viewers can buy the song from the video.
On Facebook, have a link to your website and update your cover photo with some kind of call to action.
For both YouTube and Facebook, you should film a short outro thanking everyone for watching and directing them on the next steps they can take. You can use YouTube’s “End Screen” feature for this.
It can be as simple as saying “Thanks for watching. We hope you enjoyed. If you liked the song, there’s a direct link to purchase in the description box below. We’ve also got other music videos you might like. Click the video on the screen to check them out.”
Dave Kusek is the founder of New Artist Model and Berklee Online. Over the years he’s worked with tens of thousands of musicians around the world across every genre imaginable and in many different markets. New Artist Model is an online music business school designed especially for indie musicians. Learn how to turn your music into a career, understand the business, and start thinking like a musical entrepreneur.
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