Crusoe may just have the most video views ever of any single dog out there, with over 1.1 BILLION total video views on his Facebook page, including another 46 million on his YouTube channel and over 200 million Vine loops. His videos have appeared on TV and news publications across the world. His videos have been played on jumbotrons during hockey games, on breakfast shows, 6 o’clock news programs, and even on the weather channels.
This is Crusoe’s biggest single video, at almost 59 million views.
So it’s safe to say Crusoe’s has had some popular videos. But what makes a video go viral? Although there’s no magic formula, here are some tips that will help.
The “X” Factor
For a video to go viral, it really has to be “remarkable” in some way. Meaning, it has to be something people have never seen before, or something that is remarkably funny, cute, interesting, emotional, or even gross that they can’t resist sharing for others to see, too.
Think of any viral video you’ve seen, and it probably matched one of the above qualities. So you need some creativity – or luck (sometimes amazing things just happen), to come up with something that is going to be new and remarkable where people say, “wow, this is awesome. I have to show this to everyone.”
For Crusoe, there’s a combination of x-factors. It’s his unique costumes which are all homemade, the comedy of the video skit/story, and sometimes the cuteness factor as well.
So what is your x-factor? Think about what you could do well given your abilities and what you have. Example: do you have a cat that looks super grumpy that would make the best memes? Maybe you have an amazing fashion sense and are crafty enough to transform your favorite fashion-wear into dog sizes? Or maybe you are just a hilarious comedy writer who could put together great little skits?
Length, Quality, Aspect Ratio
The length of a video is one of the most important aspects here. People increasingly have shorter and shorter attention spans. A video needs to grab people’s attention within the first 3-15 seconds. Think of how you scroll through your Facebook News Feed, passing over videos that start playing automatically. If they don’t capture your attention right away, you just keep scrolling. Plus, Facebook counts a video view as playing longer than 3 seconds, so it’s critical to make that initial “grab” in the first few seconds.
With Crusoe, I keep the videos at ideally 30-60 seconds in length, although sometimes shorter or longer depending on what it is. That’s also because Instagram only allows a max of 60 seconds, so this way my content can be consistent on all channels. Once I edit a video, I generally sleep on it. Then the next day, shave off another 10-30 more seconds.
I also prefer a square aspect ratio as opposed to the traditional 16:9 or 4:3 landscape ratio because when viewing on Facebook or Instagram, a square ratio actually takes up more vertical space and thus takes up more of the person’s screen, making it more noticeable.
Quality is likely the least important out of these three, but still enhances the viewing experience for the user, especially if your “x-factor” is in the details.
When you launch your video makes a huge difference, as different days of the week and different times of day can really influence how many people see the video.
Releasing a video early in the week is generally the best time, as it allows the video to gain momentum throughout the week, as well as media attention if it comes to that (media aren’t as active on Fridays or weekends).
You can investigate your own audience to decide on the best time of day, but generally whenever the highest percent of your fans are approaching the end of a work day (say, 3 or 4pm) is when they’ll be dilly-dallying at work and looking for a little escape on social media.
Think of Who Will Like It
If your video features, oh let’s say, two dogs playing hockey, then that gives you some ideas as to who might pick up and re-publish the video.
ESPN, Sportscenter, NHL? Sure!
Or maybe your video features a pup wearing a certain brand of clothing or using a certain product.
You could tag any of those organizations in the video caption, or use hashtags they frequently use, or submit the video to one of their social channels. For media publications that might want to cover the video, you could submit it to their “submit news” emails often listed on their contact pages.
Once you release the video, it generally needs a “little” or a “big” push. The more truly viral it is, the less push is needed, but still, it needs at least a little momentum to get started.
Use your own social channels to post the video. Obviously, the bigger your following the bigger initial boost you’ll have, but videos have gone viral from accounts of all following sizes. If you have a blog/email list, use that. Send it to friends and family. Share it through to Facebook groups you’re apart of. Do you have partnerships or relationships with other accounts? Ask them to share it.
The way you write the caption for your video can also make a difference. You could position it as a question, or make it one of those “relatable” captions (ie. “When you…“) that drive people to engage by sharing or tagging their friends to whom the caption & picture apply or relate to.
The Snowball Effect
Once your momentum starts mounting, don’t take your foot off the gas, and it’ll keep growing. Engage with people who like the video, continue reaching out to media, monitor your inboxes.
Specifically, respond to the best comments on your video. This fuels the conversation to keep going and encourages potential commenters that “oh, OP might respond if I come up with a clever comment!”
Once you have some views to showcase, reach out to media and say, “look, our video did X amount of views in Y number of days! You should be covering this!”
Make sure you monitor your email and social inboxes. I’ve had media request to use our video via Twitter, email, Facebook message, Instagram message, etc. Media want to post stuff “now” to stay ahead of their competition, so timing is of the essence!
Don’t Sign Away Exclusive Rights!
This is an important one! If you have a viral hit, it’s likely someone will reach out to you from a sort of “content distributor”, offering to push the video through their network to publishers around the world. Sometimes it will have a revenue sharing model, too. It will sound pretty good, but be careful. You don’t want to enter into any agreement that gives them exclusive rights to represent your video, especially in perpetuity. Because the reality is that they probably won’t distribute the video as far as they tell you, and keeping any agreement you enter into “non-exclusive” will still let you give the video to other media requests to cover it as well.
Give it a Shot!
At the end of the day, your video needs to be pretty great for a viral hit to happen. But it can happen and won’t happen unless you try. So give it a shot and start making snowballs. One might take off!
Best of luck!
-Ryan (Crusoe’s Dad)
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