Anatomy of a 5 million views viral video


If there is anything any marketer would wish and that is to have their campaign go viral. While human beings are very complex and there is no sure way to get a campaign go viral, what we can do is reverse engineer viral post or videos, learn from them and hopefully be able to capitalise on them. Here I will share what I learned from producing a video that led to 5 million views on facebook with a total of 12 million reach, 114k reactions, and 14k comments (this is the stats as of this writing)

To give you more context on this, it was campaign period for a presidential election in the Philippines. Duterte's platform of governance is federalism but sadly most of his supporters don't know what it is, so we made a video that explains it. If you are curious about the video here it is:


Anatomy of a viral video

The anatomy of a viral post, video or campaign would boil down to five things: Relevance, Execution, Channel, Timing and Luck.


1 - Relevance

Any viral post, image or video has some kind of relevance to a person watching it. When I say relevance it doesn't have to be important or world changing. It can either be entertainment, emotion, need, knowledge, and connection.

Entertainment means how entertaining it is. Is it fun? Can it make you laugh? Can it scare you? 

Emotion means if the post or campaign is able to invoke emotion in you. Does it make you happy, sad, or angry?

Need is need. Do you need it? Does the viewer need the one being marketed?

Knowledge means that the audience is able to acquire new knowledge or an epiphany. Did you learn something new?

And lastly Connection. Is there something in the campaign you can relate to?  

To be relevant means to hit one of those 5 or better yet hit all of them. In the case of our federalism video it hit all 5. The video is entertaining. The aesthetics was astounding. There were lots of cool motion and effects. It invoked emotions, it gave people hope and at the end of the video we encouraged people to not vote blindly but to study each candidate and their platforms. There is certainly a need because it was election time. There is a need to know the platform of a candidate. It also gave new knowledge to people. Most of the people don't know what federalism is and this video gave them new knowledge. And the video built connection to the audience by relating past situation of typhoon where the previous government was slow to act due to unitary system. A lot of people were able to relate to that.


2 - Execution

The 2nd element of a viral video is the execution. A well executed campaign doesn't mean how well it is artistically but it means how well it is designed for the market it is supposed to serve. When creating the script for the video we knew from the start that it had to be in our language and not in english, having it in english would have less impact. When we also designed the assets we think of hitting a very big box. We weren't targeting the masses alone but all filipinos who can be in class ABC.

3 - Channels

Even if you have the right content but if you don't have the right channels to send it then it would be for nothing. In our case we had the right channel because Duterte is from Davao City and we are based from Davao City. So the video had a lot of potential for support. Immediately after we posted it from our facebook page most of the people we knew liked it, shared it and commented on it. The key here is to get your content to be seen by the people who would find your content relevant. 

4 - Timing

Knowing when to launch your campaign, post or video is the tricky part. There would be a lot of trial and error to get this correctly. You have to listen to the community, to the news and current events. Timing your campaign can greatly improve your chances of being viral. For our video we have waited that it would be in the mid of the debates. Maybe if we posted it sooner or later then the effect would not have been the same.

5 - Luck

This last element of a viral video is something you have no control of. Yes luck plays a part in all of this. Have you ever encountered a viral video that was about 5 years old but it was only viral recently? I bet you have. You see, sometimes even if you have done the other 4 correctly there is still a chance that your campaign would not go viral. Getting the other 4 correctly would greatly improve or increase your chances but its still isn't a sure way to get it viral. 

To summarize, there are 5 elements to a viral video: Relevance, Execution, Channels, Timing and Luck. Sadly there is still no sure way to get a video to be viral, but I guess its like that in life. Even in success, luck plays a part in it. We can only increase our chances and be ready when the opportunity comes but lets not be too hard on ourselves and be humble that not everything is under our control. We just need be ready when it hits our doors.