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The Secret Behind Viral Videos

Three key reasons you can use video to dramatic effect online.

This week I had the distinct (and delightful) pleasure of interviewing the legendary Phil Nottingham for my podcast show, The Good, The Bad and The Dirty.

Not only is he a fabulous swashbuckler of the digital persuasion, he’s also ridiculously funny which meant that it took us a few takes to actually come out with any sort of coherent intro.

Anyway, we got there eventually, and when the air cleared he shared some incisive tips on why video as a medium is so powerful, and how you can use it to help increase your web of influence online.

Perhaps the most poignant insight was the observation that “video” doesn’t mean content in and of itself. Rather, it is a form factor, which as such has specific qualities that make it particularly useful as a tool for persuasive communication.

Phil highlighted three key reasons why video as a form can be used to dramatic effect online.

3 reasons why video is so persuasive

  1. Video is extremely personable
  2. You can present a character or persona to people in a much more comprehensive, holistic way (than you could with just text or image)
  3. It combines audio and text with image, motion, and countless other cues that contribute to its richness as an online tool

He explained that if you want to use video more persuasively, you have to treat it as a medium and begin by working out what you can do with video to make it valuable.

3 ways to make your videos valuable

  1. Define a goal. What do you want to achieve?
  2. Decide what stories you can tell, and how best to tell them
  3. Make sure you consider how you’re going to deal with technical optimization. This means deciding how you’ll host the video, implementing metadata so you get the highest visibility on YouTube, and making sure it’s very sharable and scalable.

For most of us, the motivation behind creating video content it’s around visibility—boosting our credibility and reputation, and reaching a wider audience. For others it’s about driving traffic and boosting conversion rates at an existing, established site.

Whatever your reasons, Phil revealed that creating a persuasive and effective video boils down to one thing:

“Really it’s about taking a goal-driven strategy and working out when video is the right form for the kind of stories you want to tell”

And there you have it.

Number one trick to boost virality

So, what’s the number one thing you can do to boost the shareability of your video? Well, viral videos tend to have one thing in common—and that’s subversion (Want to tweet this?).

If you want to grab your customers’ attention, don’t just stick to the bland, generic corporate video— give them something that will surprise them.

Dollar Shave Club—the unorthodox video that subverted the expectations of what you’d get, and brought a whole new meaning to telling stories in a novel, unexpected way.

3 ways video can help SEO

1. Ranking in Google search

To rank in Google searches, get your page indexed for videos ranking (this is when Google recognises your page has videos on it). You can also use “rich snippets”—an icon that looks like a video—which will get higher click-through rates than regular search results. You can also submit a sitemap or markup (a small series of tags you include in the source code of your website) to boost your rankings.

2. YouTube SEO
YouTube is now the 2nd biggest search engine in the world after Google, which means it’s a really powerful tool for getting your content (and your brand!) out there. You can optimize your YouTube videos by making sure you use relevant keywords and use descriptive captions.

3. Drive links back to your website
Videos drive links back to your website, boosts your perceived authority and drives traffic.

And the top mistake?

No. 1 = hosting—don’t shove everything on YouTube!

Hosting platforms

If you’re a small-medium size business:

If you’re a large business:

So… Enjoy this post? This is just a taste of what Dr. Karl Blank and I talked about. Listen to the whole recording here.

Come back next week when I’ll be writing about our next special guest, and sharing their expert advice with you on how to use the secret psychology of persuasion to increase your online influence.