If you think there's no money to be made in internet videos, I have two words for you: Rebecca Black. You don't even have to go overseas to witness the hyperactive power of YouTube. On 29 December, a Sydney school girl uploaded a video of herself doing the eyebrow dance from the Cadbury ad. A week later, the video had received 12 million views and its star was receiving advertising offers. Bottom line – internet videos can make you an instant superstar.
But how do you make yours stand out amongst the millions of videos being uploaded every day?
All the online marketing strategies in the world won't work if the content's no good. Videos go viral because people share them, so your video has to have something that will make the watcher take the extra time it pass it on.
When you look at viral hits of the past you might start to notice a pattern. There are three subjects that most of these videos share: babies, animals, and humour. If you have a baby or a pet, you're laughing (and so, hopefully, will your audience). Internet consumers love seeing babies and animals do adult things so just follow them with a camera for a few days until you get the shot.
Funny videos are a little harder; it's hard to predict what people will find funny. Generally, keep it simple – an intelligent political satire isn't going to do as well as lolcats. Catch phrases are usually well received, as are strange juxtapositions, for example, The Shining trailer remade as a romantic comedy.
Probably easier to stick with the lolcats.
More is More
You've made a video – what now?
I'm sure you have a masterpiece on your hands and it would be great if everyone else realised this, but yours is one in a sea of millions. The odds are stacked against you. Those odds increase, however, with each additional video you release. So keep filming. Then, when you think you're done, make some more. (This, of course, is a lot easier if you're following your baby around with your iPhone).
Once you've got a good selection, it's time to start uploading.
Put your video on YouTube. Put it on Facebook. Hell, put it on MySpace. Put it on your blog. E-mail it to everyone you know, then e-mail it to all the soft news shows that play that sort of thing. It doesn't cost anything and saturation means greater exposure.
Many will argue that a good video doesn't need tricks and gimmicks, but unfortunately that's not always the case. You're competing against companies who pay good money to have people market their online videos. There are a few simple things you can do to attract attention and make it more user friendly.
Keep it short. Users are less likely to share a long video with their friends. Fifteen to thirty seconds is a good time frame; if yours is much longer, create a shorter version that links back to the original.
A dramatic title ("Bigfoot Sighting!") will compel people to click your video to investigate further.
Be strategic with your tags. Take note of what it currently trending and figure out a way to relate that to your video.
And if you're serious about making videos, use Google Analytics or something similar to map your stats. This will help you see what works and what doesn't.
Creating a viral video is more difficult than it seems but if you are successful, fame and fortune awaits.