Three ways to spot a potential viral winner
Having worked on the newsdesk for almost three years, I have seen the best (and worst) of what the internet has to offer. I’ve sifted through virtual mountains of potentially viral content, and have used my wealth of experience to decide whether it has the legs to become the next Run Walter Run (pun very much intended), or if it lacks the originality to succeed in the highly competitive viral video market.
But what criteria do I use to identify a video’s potential? From my experience, there’s no exact science to it. Some videos that I thought were world beaters have become relegated to internet obscurity, while others that I didn’t expect to do so well have made me despairingly question anything that I’ve learnt from my time on the newsdesk. But there are some key things to look for…
Originality is obviously a huge bonus. If it’s a clever hack being shown for the first time, or a dog that can do a completely unique trick, you’re clearly on to a winner. True, a lot of recycled content performs fairly well, but to be able to take its place on the viral video hall of fame it has to be something that the discerning eye of the public has never seen before. Like any piece of art, a truly memorable video has to fill a niche. Run Walter Run, for example, was one of the first videos to emerge online using GoPro’s canine ‘Fetch harness’. That, combined with the clear blue Italian skies and the adorable looking dog, gave it all elements it needed to become a massive viral success.
2. Human Interest
Human interest is another vital component of a viral clip. A video of a raging storm tearing down trees and destroying buildings is dramatic, but the drama is increased tenfold when you see people reacting to it – running for cover, people being rescued etc. When you are shown the human consequences of an event, you live vicariously through the experience of those involved. It seems more tangible, more human. Even if it is just commentary over the video, you really get a taste for what it ‘feels’ like, instead of simply what it ‘looks’ like. Karen Jones’ footage of a large building fire in Houston, Texas, was so compelling because of the human factor involved. Firstly, you had the struggle and desperation of the man as he jumped down from the balcony to avoid being overwhelmed by the fire. In addition to this, you had the almost breathless commentary of Karen and her colleagues as they narrated the action.
3. What’s Trending?
Relevance to current media topics is also a major factor, not only with our breaking news videos, but also with viral content. Our news clients are always keen to supplement their copy with video footage. Whether it’s clever drawings of celebrities prominent in the media at that time, or people doing creative things based around big sporting events, etc. there are always plentiful opportunities for people to respond to the current media climate with great viral videos. Sometimes the coverage of big news events can become a bit stale and unengaging, so when someone uses their talents to put an alternative angle on it all it can seem like a breath of fresh air. As Euro 2016 is just around the corner, I will definitely be on the lookout for any hilarious pranks, costumes, recreations that might capture the public’s attention.
All these factors are involved in judging the potential of a video to become massively popular. Of course there will still be surprises, and if there’s anything constant about the world of viral videos it is its inconsistency, but every now and then a video comes along that ticks all these boxes. Whenever this happens, you can be sure the Newsflare team will be on hand to help secure it.