4 Key Components to a Viral Video

6 minutes to read

Sharing viral videos online has become a beloved international pastime. In many cases, viral videos have jumpstarted the professional careers of many of its content makers. Having a viral video can create many, many opportunities for your brand’s marketing. It can be the difference between why some brand videos get virtually no views and how others can get views in the billions. Your brand can go from obscurity to overnight success, based solely on a video that will get people clicking the “like” button and sharing it across all social media platforms.

But is there a secret formula for creating a wildly successful viral video? Although the entire formula hasn’t yet been discovered yet (because then everyone would be able to profit off of viral videos if this were true), there seem to be a lot of similarities that many viral videos share.

So, what exactly are these components to a viral video?

Recurring Content

A great way to get people noticing your videos is to keep the content as recurring as possible. You can either do this by having a recurring theme or stylization. Although some viral videos are one-offs, already establishing your brand will aid in getting your videos noticed, whether that is through music videos, parodies, etc. Whatever theme you decide to do for your brand videos, always make sure to keep it as recurring as possible. Once people know what kind of content to expect, especially if it’s engaging content, they are more likely to tune in for future videos.

components to a viral video taylor swift

“Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is a great case study to support this viral video component. Swift’s music videos tend to circulate with numbers in the millions and she didn’t get those views overnight. Taylor Swift established herself as a marketing mogul by creating recurring content which consists of themes supportive of female empowerment and heartbreak, all of which are found within her music videos.

By having these themes embedded in her content, she secured her following and had audiences viewing her videos in droves whenever she released new content, especially online. Although Swift has achieved master stardom through her music, she has transcended her image as a musical artist and is now considered a brand in her own right. Swift could not have reached her star status without recurring content, especially within her music videos.

Production Value

Gangnam Style by PSY is a great example of utilizing production value for viral videos. Although there is a language barrier as most, if not all, of the video is spoken in only Korean, the video was still insanely popular. This could be attributed to the fact that the video was very much invested in its high production value. The video looks very well put together which adds to the appeal of the overall video. By having a video that looks and sounds great, you can guarantee most people will be noticing, watching and sharing.

components to a viral video gangnam style

“Gangam Style” by PSY

The same can be applied to your potentially viral video as well. Although your brand video doesn’t have to be as outlandish as “Gangam Style” you can still invest in the high production value of your video in order to get people clicking on your videos. The goal for your video is to invest in making it look and sound great, which will heighten the content within it. PSY’s music video could have easily been passed over, but because of how elaborate it was produced, it is now the most viewed video on YouTube.

Timing is Everything

The timing of your videos are very important when marketing them and hoping that its viral potential will manifest itself. You should always consider what kind of hype you are generating with the videos you are releasing. Whenever you tap into the fever of anticipation, you can expect your audience to wait with baited breath. Many successful series, such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, have accomplished this by releasing teaser videos in order to supplement their viral marketing.

components to a viral video star wars

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official)

The genius of Star War’s marketing is that they withheld promoting the series most prominent character, Luke Skywalker, from most if not all of the marketing. Until closer to the theatrical release of the film, Luke Skywalker’s absence raised a lot of questions and stirred the pot of intrigue for many, many Star Wars fans. Although it was widely speculated, it was no accident.

The lack of Luke Skywalker and his re-introduction within the trailers was intentionally done in order to generate more interest and excitement about the series. Having his character oversaturate the marketing would have given audiences too much information about the new movie and thus lead to less interest in the revival of the series. As the old saying goes, “long enough to cover most of the subject but interesting enough to keep things interesting.”

Short and Sweet

In the age of Grab-and-Go media, you don’t have a lot of time to capture everyone’s attention, especially in terms of generating views of your videos. It seems as if our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Although it seems as if the vastness of the never-ending exploration of the Internet may be to blame, you still need to strive to have content that keeps it your content short and hitting the sweet spot. You don’t want your audience clicking out the video after only a minute, so you’ll have to condense it to make it as impactful as possible.

components to a viral video old spice

Old Spice | Did You Know Commercial

Understanding your watch time is important when creating content that is going to get people noticing your content. The Old Spice commercials are a great example of how to keep it short and to the point, but keep the content refreshing and trending. The videos have a simple plot, never overly-complicating its message to the masses, which is satirizing but also promoting the “manliness” that Old Spice products boast.

The video is always fluid, figuratively and literally. As the star of the commercial, usually a very attractive and buff man who seems to not know that shirts exist, makes eye contact with the viewer as he convincingly promotes Old Spice products. It caters to both males and females, which when done properly can be be an effective marketing move, and the commercials are generally less than 17 seconds long. All of these elements come together to make an immensely popular viral video marketing campaign for Old Spice


Having a video that goes viral has proven to be beneficial to your brand. Although the code hasn’t been completely cracked, the components have revealed themselves through the similarities found in most, if not all, wildly successful viral videos. These components consist of:

  • Recurring Content  – Create a theme and stick to it or explore it in new and refreshing ways.
  • Production Value – Consider the production value of your videos and keep it engaging.
  • Timing is Everything – Tease with tidbits or release it within a scheduled timeline.
  • Short but Sweet – Although Facebook and Twitter have expanded their character limit, people’s attention spans are still limited; keep it short and to the point.

Have you noticed any similarities within viral videos that have lead to their successes? Let us know in the comment section below!