Five Mistakes Businesses Make with Attempting Viral Videos

By Marcus Seeger

Everyone I know in the video marketing industry dreams of producing a viral video: you know, the one that gets millions of views around the world complete with an avalanche of shares and comments.

The most successful video in the history of the internet is “Gangnam Style” by South Korean musician PSY with, at the time of writing, over 2.3 billion views and over 9 million likes on YouTube alone. The most popular non-music video is a home movie, “Charley bit my finger – again”, with just over 800 million views on YouTube. There are definitely opportunities from a local perspective with the most viewed Aussie video being GetUp Australia’s “It’s time—Marriage Equality” with over 15 million views.

Whilst a viral video can be seen as the ultimate success story, many videos with comparably miniscule views can be far more successful from a business profits perspective. However, the attraction of a viral video is tempting. As a consequence, branded content is becoming more common and often has bigger budgets. For example: Volvo Trucks Epic Split with Van Damn, Chipotle’s Scarecrow or the 2015 Budweiser Super Bowl Commercial "Puppy Love". There are five common misconceptions around what is required to make a viral video.

  1. Forgetting to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Overcomplicating the video with too many messages is a sure sign that you will miss the target. There just needs to be one clear precise message for you to connect with your audience.
  2. You need a big brand to be able to create a viral video. Whilst this helps, it is not a requirement. A classic example of this is the Dollar Shave Club. With the incredible success of their tongue in cheek, down-to-earth video and now with over 2 million YouTube views, Dollar Shave Club catapulted into the marketplace.
  3. Viral videos need to have babies and dancing to be successful. We don’t mean these things specifically, but a viral video doesn’t have to have the same content as viral videos before it.
  4. Being unoriginal. Many brands have tried to copy the Old Spice success formula but all have failed. Your idea really does need to be new, even if it is a parody. Many great ideas fall over during execution. Viral videos are notoriously difficult to combine original ideas with exception execution. You need that something special that makes your video not only memorable but also remarkable.
  5. Patronising your audience and failing to make an authentic connection. As David Ogilvy said, “A consumer is not a moron. She’s your wife. Don’t insult her intelligence, and don’t shock her”. Just be real in your message and look for that thread that will connect you with your audience and make it as strong as possible.

Marcus Seeger is the #1 Amazon best selling author of “Video Marketing for Profit; 14 Proven Strategies for Accelerated Business Growth”. Marcus is managing director of video marketing and production agency, Video Experts. Information about Marcus's book and video marketing podcast can be found at The book is available online and in all good book stores. For free video marketing training that will help you grow your business to the next level, visit



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