Companies dream of video marketing campaigns that go viral; earning the kind of response that makes millionaires.  But not everyone can repeat the success of the Dollar Shave Club, much less PSY.  What is it about certain videos that make them go viral and unleash a chain reaction that results in massive profits?  And why isn’t your video going viral?

go viral

There are many potential reasons your video isn’t going viral. Some, you can change. Others, you can not.  The following lists several reasons your video isn’t going viral, and how you can fix them.

It’s not funny, touching or cute

The most popular videos are not only unique; they’re unique in a way that is funny, touching or cute.  “Gangnam Style” rose to popularity because it was so different from what we’re accustomed to, yet it’s also funny.  And would Dollar Shave Club have achieved the level of success it did without the “our razors are [expletive] great” line?  Different, funny.

What about touching and cute?  Many videos achieve viral status simply by featuring babies and animals doing cute things, which are often also touching.  On the other end of the spectrum, tragedy often spawns viral videos; the selfless acts of those who provide aid to those in need are touching indeed.

Providing value, other than emotional value, to your videos can also produce viral results.  Still, a video that depicts a cat scaring another out of a brown paper sack is always going to out-do your tutorial video on how to draw a logo in Illustrator.

You’re not promoting it

While it’s true that most viral videos happen by accident, promoting your video will still give it the initial liftoff it needs to be shareable in the first place.  There are several free and cheap ways to promote your video:

  • include a call to action (request a “like”) in your video
  • share your video on your social networks
  • promote your video on Facebook (you can reach thousands of people for around $20)
  • send your video’s link to bloggers and journalists in your industry
  • distribute a press release announcing your video
  • stickers, flyers and other print media

Poor timing

Unless your video has something to do with the presidential election, releasing it on Election Day is not a good idea.  That is to say, trying to get noticed on any day when news, blogs and social media are dominated by other stories is very difficult.  Although you can’t predict the next day’s news with certainty, shooting for a day other than right after the Super Bowl is highly recommended.

Practice makes perfect

If your first attempt to make a viral video is a flop, don’t give up.  Practice makes perfect, and as you make and promote video after video you’ll soon learn what works and what doesn’t.  Once you increase your knowledge of viral videos, you can go back to your older videos and promote them again, often with far better results than you achieved during your initial campaign.

It’s not in the stars

As previously noted, most videos achieve viral status by accident.  It’s impossible to predict with certainty which videos will go viral and which will not.  Trends can be studied and followed, absolutely, but following what has worked for others does not guarantee success for you. Sometimes, it’s just not in the stars. It’s important to know when to cut your losses, learn from your experience, move on and start planning your next video.