“Nathan for You” is a popular series on Comedy Central where comedian Nathan Fielder meets with businesses around the country and helps catapult their success. Of course, because it’s a good comedy, the ideas are always terrible and usually disastrous for anyone involved. But there was one operation that ended up being a wild, viral success.
If you know your YouTube videos, you might remember the one where a cute little pig rescues a baby goat struggling to swim in a small pond. The video has 9.3 million views, and it was on major morning shows like “Today” and “Regis and Kelly.” Everyone loved it. Except there was just one problem — it was totally fake. Shortly after the video’s success, the season premiere of “Nathan for You” revealed that it was all an elaborate hoax and a good one at that.
Maybe your goal isn’t to fool people into believing a false viral video, but there are some tips and tricks to learn from Nathan Fielder, who did create a video that swept the nation.
Keep It Simple
It’s called a “viral” video because a successful one replicates quickly. This means your message has to be fast and to the point. “Pig Rescues Baby Goat” is a brief 29 seconds, and that’s more than enough time to pitch your message. Think about some of the best Super Bowl commercials. Almost all of the most memorable ones have been 30 seconds or less.
Have Multiple Ideas
Late night host Jimmy Kimmel is no stranger to viral videos. He puts out several each year, hoping one will stick, and he usually gets his way. The key to Jimmy’s success is that he always keeps more than one ace up his sleeve. Not every viral campaign strikes gold, so it’s important to keep a bank of ideas and have them ready for the next go-around so your company doesn’t lose momentum.
Viral Doesn’t Equal a Big Budget
In fact, some of the best viral campaigns are done with little to no money at all. It keeps the message endearing and authentic. There are several ways to cut back on spending, including using a smartphone camera for pictures or videos, finding costumes online instead of at a professional costume store or shooting on location (just like ESPN’s “This Is SportsCenter” commercials do).
Properly Execute the Launch
Don’t let poor execution ruin a good idea. If you have a campaign worthy of viral success, network with bloggers in your industry who are willing to link to it or talk about it. Their initial push helps get the ball rolling and earn some momentum for what you hope will be a strong run. Share the love if bloggers ask the same of you someday. This also is a great way to build professional relationships in the process.
Don’t Forget to Optimize
While a viral video depends on people, there is one technical aspect to it — search optimization. The fact is, if no one can find your campaign, it’s basically dead before it starts. Make sure your site is optimized for search, your YouTube description has the right buzzwords and your social media hashtags are in order. All of your campaign’s properties have to be on the same page for your next project to truly go viral.