Viral videos have been all the rage for almost a decade, and it’s not uncommon to see that a video has been shared millions of times in a few days. However, the big question is “how do we make a viral video?” I am asked that question on a monthly basis and my answer is always the same: “we can put certain pieces of the puzzle in place, but there isn’t a formal for making a viral video.”
I have had four videos that I designed go viral. While it is a good feeling, there are even more important criteria. For example, a video that has steady growth, with track-back to your organization’s website and inquiries, visits, and applications following. If you can prove that enrollment was affected by a video that you produced, it’s an even better feeling that the ego stroke of a quick fix viral video.
However, my first viral video still feels pretty good. I was the Director of Communications for Claremont Preparatory School from 2009-2011. During a conversation with the Head of the Lower School, we discussed creating a flash mob with parents, teachers and administrators for the Lower School students one Friday afternoon at pick-up. Because parents picked up their lower school children (grades 1-4) in the auditorium, a former Wall Street bank, the location was perfect for this covert operation. The Lower School director proposed a dance with a parent, who was a choreographer. Perfect! We found a song, Dog Days Are Over, by Florence and the Machine that begins slowly and crescendos. All participants would rehearse over a four-week period without children having any idea – windows were covered and someone stood guard, so our cover wouldn’t be blown.
I arranged for 10-12 video cameras to be loaned to us for this day along with a team of professionals, who were paid. Three cameras were mounted off the ground, over doorways and on the ceiling. Some of our camera operators walked the floor incognito to film the dance, while others caught the reactions of the children who were completely caught off-guard. The video was a huge success! Children were beyond exalted and parents felt a tremendous sense of community. Word-of-mouth spread far and wide – internal communications amongst our parents to prospective families, who were considering attending the school, were discussing this innovative undertaking.
With a few Google tweaks and a campaign where we asked parents to share the video with their immediate families, grandparents, aunts/uncles, and friends, the video results immediately grew (and the admissions department was busier than at this time the year before). Within a week, the video had been watched 15,000 times and shared countlessly. Today, the video is approaching 25,000 views. It is still a fun video to watch and reminisce about the looks on the faces of the children.
So what do you say, does your school want to make a video with me and try to get it to go viral?