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Using YouTube to Go Viral

Tips to Improve Your Chances of Spreading Viral Content on YouTube


Using YouTube to Go Viral
Photo © Getty Images

The word “viral” is often followed by the word “video” when we talk about Internet virality. Viral videos have become a fundamental component of Internet culture, and they often serve as a launching pad toward instant stardom for regular people who simply just created the right video and uploaded it at the right time.

Viral videos, however, are much easier to watch and enjoy rather than create. As of May 2012, it was estimated that YouTube sees over 72 hours of video content uploaded every minute. Not every day—every minute. That’s 24 hours more than what the rate was just a year ago, so it’s likely that that number has increased since then, and will continue to increase.

With so many videos being uploaded, it’s not easy to get noticed, even if your videos are worthy of being noticed. So here are a few tips you can use to hopefully ride that viral video train all the way to thousands, or even millions of views!

Use Keywords in the Title, Description and Tags

This is the easiest method to use if you want people to actually find your video. You could easily put a simple keyword in the title or in the tags and rack up a few views just from people who are searching for those phrases or words.

YouTube also ranks very well in Google search results, so in addition to potentially being discovered by people from YouTube’s internal search engine, some of your viewers may be coming from Google search as well. YouTube is massive, so keywords are absolutely essential if you want to maximize your exposure.

Consider Creating Video Content Based on Current Events

Taking advantage of current news and events is a very quick and convenient ways to get video views. Because people are already searching for keywords related what’s currently going on, your brand new video could show up in the search results just for having those relevant keywords in the title and tags (as explained above).

For example, when Rebecca Black’s Friday video came out, lots of artists created their own parodies of the video—which managed to rack up lots of video views because everyone was searching “Rebecca Black Friday” at the time.

Be Entertaining

This is an important one. Viral videos are almost always entertaining in one way or another—unless they go viral for being controversial. Still, they usually bring some amount of entertainment to the viewer in any sense..

Keep in mind that being entertaining in a video doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to use advanced camera equipment and use lots of special effects. Some of the simplest videos that have gone viral are just people sitting in front of their cheap webcams, like the eHarmony Cat Lady. If you can make just the right impression on your viewers, they’ll want to share it, and that’s when your video could really start to go viral.

Network and Collaborate with Other Content Creators

A big trend that I’ve noticed is that some of the more serious YouTubers will actually star in each other’s videos in order to swap subscribers and viewers. Anyone could do this. It may not send your stuff as viral as Rebecca Black or the eHarmony Cat Lady, but it will definitely get you more exposure.

If the other content creator has a significant number of dedicated subscribers and viewers, you could see a surge of subscriptions, views and interaction on your own stuff. It’s probably the most overlooked strategy in getting more video views, but also one of the fastest and most effective ways to really expand your reach.

Make Mistakes

Here’s another good piece of advice that many of the top YouTube content creators usually preach to newbies: make mistakes, learn from them and keep going. Creating great content for YouTube is hard, and it often takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to make a big impact.

Check out some of the top YouTube content creators to get a sense of what kind of work they do, how they brand themselves as far as being “different” goes and how they interact with their audience. It may open your mind to new ideas for launching your own viral video.

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