29th March 2012

3 Components of a Successful Viral Video

We’ve all seen it (and if you haven’t you’re living under a rock) – the Joseph Kony 2012 video from Invisible Children. And we all have opinions on it – some think it’s great, some think it’s pointless, some just don’t care. Either way, this video was pushed in our faces and created a viral# sensation that everyone began talking about. This video has over 84 million views and over 770,000 Likes on Facebook. Whatever you want to say about the topic, you cannot deny that this video got people’s attention. So why did this video in particular go viral? Well, for three simple reasons: Great storytelling, fantastic production quality and making the issue simple.

1. Great Storytelling: From the beginning to the end of the video, our narrator takes us through the process of how he started out in Uganda and how his project expanded. He never jumps over a part of the story, or skips decades; he narrates it completely making us understand where he is coming from. The story itself it intensely compelling, but furthermore, the way it’s told makes us watch all 30 minutes of the video.

Kony Campaign
The film-maker also uses his adorable son in the video

2. Production Quality: Invisible Children did not skimp on video production costs for this video, and it shows! The graphics, music and design are all well thought out to produce emotional reactions in all of us. We get sad when we are supposed to get sad and we get motivated when they want us to get motivated. There is no shaky camera or awkward sound effects; this video’s production is top-notch.

3. Simplicity: This is key. While some argue that the organization over-simplifies a complex issue, nonetheless, the idea is easy for anyone to understand. You did not need to get a degree in African Studies to understand what is going on in this video. Furthermore, the call to action at the end of the video is simple as well. Everything is clear from start to end, leaving no head scratches or unanswered questions. There is an issue, now let’s solve it.

Some admire at the video, others berate it, but nevertheless Invisible Children managed to get this video out to millions of people. Many video site will try to replicate these tactics because clearly they were a home-run. And while you might not make the next #Kony2012, a video production can always help you move in a direction unique to your offerings.

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About the Author

Anish hails from London and holds a degree in software engineering from the University of Manchester. Following his education, he worked for several years in the financial industry as a platform administrator before founding Revolution Productions in 2008. In addition to over seven years of video production, Anish is seen as an industry professional, adding his insight in publications such as VentureBeat, ReelSEO and Wistia.

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