What Makes a Video Go Viral

In this day and age of digital media, there are a wide range of media that you can use to promote your business. But, none of them can match the power of video. This is because media combines the best of both, the aural and the visual.

Together, these elements create a package that is attractive and highly shareable. So there is a reason why the term “viral” is associated with “video”. Yes, there are “viral articles” and “viral images” too, but they can hardly compete with “viral videos”. 

That brings us to the question of what makes a video viral. Most people, including businesses and marketing professionals, are mystified by what makes a video viral. 

It’s not uncommon to find brands and companies trying their best to make the most out of their videos. They are constantly trying to make sure their videos are the next big thing in viral video marketing. However, very few of them actually succeed and even the ones who do, find themselves unable to pinpoint the actual reason behind their success. 

Is there some sort of secret recipe to viral video success?

The good news first. The thing is, there isn’t any secret to making a video viral. There are no specific instructions or special elements you need to integrate into your video. Instead, a video going viral depends on multiple factors such as extraordinary creativity, timing, shareability, and relevance to pop culture. 

Don’t get misled though. Even with all these factors in your favor, you can still go wrong. Even so, this list of factors provides a basic foundation on which businesses can build their viral videos. They give you a fighting chance and you might just get lucky. This is better than just shooting in the dark.

Defining 'viral'

Viral videos are those videos that manage to spread out and reach every nook and corner of the internet and finally, into the collective conscience of popular culture, just like a virus. Hence, the term “viral video”.

But, we aren’t focused on why these videos are called viral. What we need to know is why they go viral. Do they need a certain number of shares, likes, or comments to earn that title? The answer is no. 

A 'viral video' is one that has a lot of people sharing and talking about. In fact, its offline popularity is what determines its status as viral. When you have friends, colleagues or family members, from various demographical backgrounds talking about it, then, it would be safe to assume a video has gone viral. 

So a video that manages to overcome demographic barriers to create a connection with its viewers is a good definition of a 'viral video'.

Now, let’s look at the various factors that determine a video’s viral value. 


Timing plays a key role in boosting a video’s viral value. Often, the viral value of a video is short lived, subject to the existing pop culture scenario during its release. 

For instance, a popular viral video, titled “Sad Affleck”, achieved success mainly through timing. The video revolved around the movie “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”, which was a majorly anticipated release at the time. 

The viral video went online just a few days prior to the release, which meant there was a lot of talk going on about the film already. Most of the talk going around was also in criticism of the film, which aligned very well with the content of the “Sad Affleck” video. This is how the video managed to get people’s attention.

The video shows an edited portion of an interview with Ben Affleck, where the actor appears to be looking away from the camera with an expression of sadness on his face. The makers of the video cashed in on the expression to make it appear as if Ben Affleck was sad with audiences' reaction to the movie. Needless to say, it worked and the video touched 21 million views in just 14 days.

Relevance to Pop Culture 

Viral videos often make use of pop-culture references and even stars to reach their desired goal to become viral. The reason for this is, these pop-culture references or stars are elements that everyone is aware of and can relate to.

A good example of such a video is the one titled “Taylor Swift Goat Remix”. It’s a basically a parody video of a popular Taylor Swift song called “I Knew You Were Trouble” that was released at the same time. 

The Goat Remix Version shows Taylor Swift singing the song as usual, however, with a tiny twist. The part with the chorus, where Swift goes “Oooh, Oooh!”, was replaced with the sound and visuals of a goat screaming.

The humorous element in the video made people take notice and led to a spur of reaction videos. 

Extraordinary Creativity

Creativity is another key element that can make a video viral. It’s not just your average, every day kind of creativity that‘s going to get it done. Your video really needs to stand out. A good example of such a video is the Mountain Dew commercial that ran during a recent SuperBowl event.

The advertisement was considered to be “strange” or “weird” and this is exactly what got people to share it and talk about it. 
To put it simply, your video needs to be unique enough to start a conversation. 


Finally, a video’s viral value depends on its shareability. For instance, animal videos, mainly funny and cute ones, are some of the most shared videos on the internet. This is because most people own or have owned a pet and these videos sort of meet their expectations and make them related to them. Melty Cone is a professional viral video production company in NYC that makes very shareable videos.

That doesn’t mean putting an animal in your video will make your video will go viral. You have to consider all the factors. With that, you also need to make sure the video is natural and in line with the message you are trying to convey.

The take away

Remember, most viral videos were never intended to go viral. But, they did so because they incorporated two or more of the above mentioned factors. Moreover, these videos were natural, authentic, and had a message (serious or not so serious).

By combining these factors, even you can create a perfect viral video. However, never let “going viral” be the goal itself. Focus on the content and quality and maybe, you will just create a video that goes viral. Good luck!

What is Melty Cone? Melty Cone is a full-service video production company in NYC. We make videos from start to finish; from creative idea conception to final video delivery.