How to Make a Viral Video
Looking for the avocado seed recipe? Scroll down!
The sheer potential of a viral video - for business, politics, activism, or anything really - is unparalleled to anything we’ve ever known or understood before modern-day technology.
There’s no question that it's ultimately going to be a positive thing for your blog or business. A marketing dream. But the precise formula to achieve it remains a mystery… otherwise everyone would do it.
However, with a little planning and a lot of luck, there are some powerful ways to push your content closer towards viral-celebrity.
’Nourish Me Whole’ is my small health and wellness hobby-blog. In March 2016, I created and shared a one-minute video on Facebook that demonstrated how to prepare an avocado seed for consumption, so that one may benefit from the nutrients within. Each seed is said to hold 70% of the antioxidants found in the whole avocado, contain more soluble fibre than most other rich sources as well as oils that increase the collagen in our skin, assisting with wrinkles and keeps our hair shiny.
The little video was as basic as they come, shot with a small tripod on my kitchen bench, with little to no consideration for sound quality, focusing, alignment or any real attention to detail. It was riddled with technical errors, but my beautiful little tribe of followers never really cared much about aesthetics, so nor did I.
Nothing could have prepared me for the mayhem that followed.
Over the next several days, I watched on helplessly as the might of the internet completely overwhelmed my website, crashing it several times. I was forced into a remarkably steep learning curve about the impact social media is truly capable of, not to mention web hosting logistics, graphic design and marketing legislation. It seemed as if there was no other option than to become an overnight expert in just about everything.
The day before posting the video, Nourish Me Whole had 300 Facebook followers. 48 hours later, there were over 70,000.
My organic reach jumped from 25,000 to 60 million in that same time frame. At the time of writing, the avocado seed video has been viewed 27 million times, been shared almost 470,000 times, has been liked or ‘reacted to’ 126,000 times, and has around 42,000 comments beneath it, not counting those on the post shares.
This a screen shot of my page activity that week.
Then, shit got real. I got to know all about 'trolling’ (what is UP with that?). In the early hours, when I was still responding to comments, my tactic was to keep love and empathy at the core of absolutely everything I said. At the end of the day, these people (well, most of these people) saw something in their world that appeared intensely wrong to them, and they were speaking up. That’s not a bad thing. That’s a very, very good thing.
The rest of those haters were, as far as I can gather, just bored, faceless trouble-makers with not much else to do. I have no excuse for those ones, or the pain they anonymously inflict on so many others. There will never be an excuse.
I pinned a carefully worded disclaimer, which included my (admittedly weak) article references, to the top of my Facebook page and encouraged people to make their own decision about whether they wanted to try this in the face of such a vast spectrum of opinion. The disclaimer was important for my own legal protection, but the sheer fact that it existed led to a new war of unparalleled rage. Comments on my ignorance, stupidity and irresponsibility began to be ‘liked’ and commented on thousands of times.
As we all do from time to time, I had became so distracted by the negativity that I was unconsciously glossing over the incredible love and support that was flowing just as strong - if not stronger - than the criticism.
Once I started listening to the positivity, I immediately wanted to do more with Nourish Me Whole. I polished up a short e-book I had been working on, and offered it for free. I built a fresh, strong website from scratch, and transferred all my content over to it. I spent hours manually entering the email addresses of fans who got stuck on the broken site and couldn’t sign up, of which there were 2,000+ that week alone.
This wasn’t just about the avocado video anymore. These people had looked at my website, and were genuinely interested in what I was trying to create. The philosophy behind Nourish Me Whole had struck a chord. What more evidence did I need, that my passion was worthwhile?
I had been listening far too intently to the hate, and not nearly enough to the love. From that point on, the viral attention was no longer scary. My passion had sparked passion in others, and I simply had more work to do.
I’M IN! HOW DO I MAKE A VIRAL VIDEO?
Often it’ll be a video of a dog falling off a chair, or something similarly basic and silly, that goes viral. If that’s the type of content you’re working with, unfortunately I can’t help you. Why those videos are so successful will always be a deep mystery to me.
However, if you’re busting to put your passion out in to the world and you want it to cycle through the digital stratosphere at lightening speed, I can give you a few pointers from my own experience (but, as with most things to do with the internet, there are of course no guarantees!).
1. Pick a controversial topic.
It doesn’t have to be political, aggressive or unkind - just select something within your realm of passion that has two distinct, polar sides, and express an opinion that focuses on one end. Start a conversation. Provoke thought, research and intellect. Yes, you might also provoke argument, but this engagement will encourage your video to stretch far and wide, and promote your purpose in the process.
2. Research recent viral videos.
What type and style of content is most popular? What about use of text? Comedy? Emotion? How can you make what’s already been done even more appealing? What kind of videos do you yourself share? Read the comments - what are they crying out for?
3. Keep it short.
The average time you have to engage someone watching your video on social media is approximately 8 seconds. You need appealing content, delivered fast. Decide what you want in the video, then figure out the shortest possible time it can happen in. A minute or less is a good guideline.
4. Don’t over think it.
Imperfections are fine. If your video goes viral, errors will simply become conversation-starters. Again - the more conversation on your video, the further it will soar. I won't mention how many people have reminded me that I only muted the first frame of my video... or that the wood grain isn't straight... or that my chopping skills are rubbish... or the million other little quirks that were apparently unforgivably irritating. By pointing those things out to me in the comments, they were spreading my video to their own Facebook friends, who would then do the same thing... and on, and on it goes.
5. Post on Facebook.
Facebook is so hot for videos right now (how many ‘Facebook Live’ posts have you scrolled past recently?), and the algorithm will favour them above any other content medium. As lucrative as it would be for your strategically-monetised YouTube video to go viral, Facebook and YouTube are not good friends. Don’t ask them to cross paths.
OK, DONE. NOW WHAT?
Once you actually hit ‘publish’, there’s not much more you can do to make your video go viral. If it does, you’ll know soon enough, and things will move very quickly.
Save this list of coping tactics on your desktop, so it’s at the ready, just in case:
- Stay calm.
- Keep a very close eye on your website hits and functionality. Bookmark your hosting tech support, just in case you need them.
- Do not, under any circumstances, get sucked into the vortex of Facebook comments. You’ll lose days of sleep. Turn off all notifications.
- If you really can’t help yourself (and I know you can’t), for every negative comment you read, find and focus on two positive ones. Usually, there are many more lovers than haters. They’re just harder to see unless you’re looking for them.
- If you just HAVE to respond to those hating on you, keep love and kindness at the core of every single response. You’ll be surprised at how many will respond positively in return, or even retract their nastiness after hearing the love in your voice.
- Distract yourself by working on something new and purposeful for your tribe of followers, which is likely expanding quickly. Stay focused on your passion, and remind yourself why you’re doing what you do.
- Appreciate that you’ve become part of a unique club, and a modern-day phenomenon. It’s actually an incredibly amazing thing.
AM I RICH NOW?
The avocado seed video did not bring me fame and fortune. I’ve made a few hundred dollars, all from post-mayhem YouTube advertising. I gave a short, awkward interview on a New Zealand radio station, and I had a small mention in a UK magazine along with a recipe that was, miraculously, not about avocados.
I didn't dive in any further. There was no need.
My viral video proved to me that the concept behind Nourish Me Whole is valid and desired, whether or not it makes money. It is responsible for clarifying my purpose, and proving the worth of my opinion. It reminded me to listen to the love, without question, because eventually the critics will leave and the lovers will stay. A lesson I could never buy.
I'm deeply grateful for that outcome, and I hope you have the opportunity to experience the same thing.
SO... HOW DO YOU EAT AN AVOCADO SEED?
1. Remove the seed as you normally would - tap a sharp knife into it, and twist.
2. Rinse the seed, then place in an oven pan and dehydrate the seed at 120C for 1.5 - 2 hours.
3. Once the seed has cooled to the touch, discard the dry outer skin. Then find the seam created by your knife when you removed your seed, and gently press your knife down in to it. The seed should pop into two halves. Be sure to spread your fingers on your free hand when you do this, in case the seed rolls.
4. Using a sharp knife, dice the seed halves. Still ensure your fingers are kept away, just in case.
5. Using a high powdered blender (a Vitamix is ideal), blitz the diced seed into a fine powder.
6. Store in the fridge in an air tight container, and use a tablespoon at a time for your smoothies and juices.
Here’s that fateful video, in all it’s controversial glory: