Ask The Expert

The Rise of Viral Videos and How to Make Them

Eline Van der Velden is an expert filmmaker and physician who runs the extremely successful Particle6 Production. Here she discusses the rise of viral videos and how to make them.

Eline Van der Velden is an award-winning actor, writer, director and entrepreneur

Today, anyone can make a video and everyone can share it. So creating an online viral phenomenon is easy, right? Well, not quite. Despite the endless stream of overnight successes, only 1.2% of videos on Facebook actually go viral. So how do we at Particle6 stand out from the online crowd? Try our essential tips and turn your endless hours of hard work into multiple clicks:

Who’s sharing?

Who are the key players in your target market? Who are your gate-keepers? Why not reach out to them? The quickest way to go viral is to research who’s sharing content and their popularity. Our Gender Bias Riddle was initially published on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Facebook page and subsequently received over 100,000 views. However, once it was picked up by BBC Three, their wider reach ensured that the views dramatically spiralled to 14 million. All it takes is one highly influential, online figure to share your video and convert anonymity into virality.

Who actually cares?

You love the idea. You’ve pictured the hits. But have you considered the audience?

While your viral video is shooting for the stars, you can also target very carefully. Videos will always be more shareable when they’re made with a specific audience in mind. The popularity of our Walk Of Shame series largely centred upon our ability to create content for a specific online community. People who relate to your story are always more likely to share it with other similar-minded individuals on platforms such as Facebook. And from these humble origins, an entire community around your product is built.

So who is your audience? What type of content do they share? Where do they share? When people share videos, they’re often trying to project something about their personality. Can your video tap into this? In the online jungle, PR is king. If you want to grab the attention of a well-known company or a very popular online figure, think about how your content might present them in a positive light.

What’s the story?

It’s not the product you’re selling, but the story you’re telling. Viral videos don’t attack the audience with complex product features, they tell a simple story.

Believe it or not, viral videos and successful feature films are actually sprinkled with the same key ingredients. Put simply, the audience need to care. To invest in your product, they need to feel invested and great story-telling will connect your audience to your brand on an emotional level. See Proctor and Gamble’s ‘Thank you Mom’ campaign for the 2012 Olympics and Reebok’s highly successful ‘25, 915 Days’ video. Both adverts highlight the importance of creating a memorable narrative framework that works as a stand-alone story rather than a pushy promotional piece.

Even the shortest videos can tell a story. Clocking in at one minute, our ‘Walk of Shame’ skit has a very clear beginning, middle and end structure. This narrative-focused approach converted those brief 60 seconds into over 3.3 million views.

Keep it real

You’ve written the story. Maybe you’ve even cast the actors. But remember, any emotional investment from your audience will always hinge on authenticity. Is the narrative realistic enough? How can your message cut through?

When we created our viral Hi-vis jacket obedience experiment, our priority was to create a simple experiment that anyone could relate to, whilst also making a deeper, more complex point about psychology. By presenting this experiment directly to ordinary members of the public, we were able to emphasise how widespread our preconceptions are. This method gave the video that crucial air of authenticity. And over 2 million views.

Demonstrate authenticity with your approach to making videos. When creating client-interview content, we always ensure that we’re familiar with our client’s key messaging. However, while we’re well-briefed, we don’t actually provide our clients with any pre-prepared questions. This always lends the videos a more naturalistic feel, which in turn, makes them more emotionally engaging.Our highly-successful Paddle recruitment video increased applications by 50%, and was driven by this very approach.

Be a revolutionary

You’ve spent endless days and hours creating your marketing video. You’re excited. You’re proud. You’re ready to share. But how unique is it, really? Is it going to capture the world’s attention and spread like online wildfire? Critically, when creating online content, our primary focus is to generate discussion and spark conversations between our audience. Is there a thought-provoking angle that hasn’t yet been explored? How can you grab the viewer’s attention in those critical early seconds?

Connect, create and be brave. Follow these essential tips and maybe, just maybe, your world will soon be at everyone else’s fingertips.

About the expert

Eline Van der Velden, 33, hails from Curaçao, Holland and is an award-winning actor, writer, director and entrepreneur. Her accomplishments and accolades are many and varied. She founded her own production company, Particle6 Productions, which to date has produced advertisements, corporate videos, short-form informational science videos and a broadcast series Miss Holland which starred Eline herself, to name a few.

Having expressed an affinity for acting from a young age, Eline left her native Holland to train in Drama and Musical Theatre at the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in the UK. She then went on to study Physics at Imperial College London where she researched Nuclear Fusion and graduated with a Masters. Following graduation, she worked as a maths and physics tutor whilst finding roles in several Dutch television series.

On her route to stardom, Eline also trained at the legendary improv collective Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles. She was struck by the underrepresentation of women in comedy and was spurred on to create Miss Holland, a BBC 3 mockumentary following a Dutch beauty queen who submerges herself in British culture. Miss Holland went on to win Best Online Comedy at the 2013 Lovie Awards. Her partnership with the BBC also included online content, including BBC Comedy Quickies and The Gender Bias Riddle to name a few. Her online BBC content has racked up over 14m views to date. Eline also achieved the coveted number one maker position on Dailymotion due to her sketch show Bad News Crew.

Eline Van der Velden is a rare sort, the sort who can fluently meld intellectualism with artistry to create something spectacular. This is evident in her award-winning work across her respective fields, within all of which she is a respected pioneer.

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