In case you didn’t already know, social sharing is the key to virality. The more people that share your video, the more views and overall engagement you’ll receive. It’s hard enough getting people to watch your videos, let alone share them. However, there are a few tricks of the trade that will help you optimize your content for maximum shareability (i.e. these tips will help you get more shares for your videos). Let’s get started.

1. Capture viewers’ attention within the first 5-7 seconds

This one is a bit obvious. People are only going to share your video if they know how awesome it is. But in order for them to find that out, they’re going to have to watch more than seven seconds—which is why you have to catch viewers’ attention quickly.

People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter; you have to entice viewers within seconds. If you do so successfully and keep these viewers interested throughout the clip, there is a much better chance they’ll share your video. Ultimately, the more people that actually watch your video, the more shares you’ll get (duh).

Want an example? Check out PooPourri’s viral video and tell me you weren’t at least somewhat intrigued within the first five seconds.

2. Surprise, but don’t shock

Harvard Business School Professor Thales Teixeira has conducted research to determine what exactly makes a video go viral. One of his conclusions: create surprising, but not shockingly surprising videos. For example, Evian’s “Roller Babies” is surprising, but not shocking at all. Bud Light’s “Clothing Drive,” on the other hand, is definitely shocking.

This minor difference drastically affects the videos’ share counts. Evian’s video earned more than 2.1 million social shares, while Bud Light’s generated only 21,000. Surprise, don’t shock.

3. Provide a value exchange

Most sharing happens through self-interested motivation, meaning people share ads because they want to gain social capital by impressing friends with new, interesting material. You have to produce content that is going to make other people look cool amongst their friends and family. This is the value exchange. People will share your videos (value for you), if your videos will impress their friends (value for them).

Examples? Here you go:

4. Aim for emotional highs or lows

“People share things they have strong emotional reactions to, especially strong positive reactions,” said social psychologist Rosanna Guadagno after leading a survey on the subject.

People can experience a wide range of emotions. You’re going to want to aim for super positive emotions or super negative emotions to maximize social shares. Uplifting, heartwarming, “restore your faith in humanity,” types of videos are shared at an incredible rate. It’s a fact: people are more likely to share positive content. However, people also tend to share content that invokes rage or other strong, negative emotions.

Aim for high or aim for low. If you end up somewhere in the middle, your videos may not attract as many social shares.

Emotional High:

Emotional Low:

5. Support a cause

Social responsibility is becoming increasingly important for more and more consumers. Therefore, they’re more likely to share cause-related video content because it publically displays their support. If you can impassion people with a worthy cause, social sharing will follow. Remember KONY 2012? That video earned 11.8 million social shares.

6. Make sure the video player is “share-friendly”

In order to facilitate sharing, you should make social buttons easy to see and easy to click. For example, if you promoted your videos through ViralGains, your video player would look like this:

ViralGains Video Player

You can customize the social share buttons and include as many as you want. This makes it incredibly easy for viewers to share your content without even moving their cursor off of the video player.

7. Ask for them

Ask and you shall receive, right? Include a call-to-action either on your video in the form of an annotation or below your video, encouraging viewers to share your video. Check out the image in #6. That area below the ViralGains video player is set aside specifically for a custom call-to-action and subscribe button, ensuring that you get the most engagement with your content.

At ViralGains, we believe social shares are the most important interactions viewers have with a video. By sharing, they are endorsing your video to their friends and will help you generate even more views as a result. If you’d really like to boost social engagement around your videos, you should check out the ViralGains self-serve platform.