Tell a Story to Make a Viral Video

Tell a Story to Make a Viral Video

5 Traits of Viral Videos

What TV commercials do you remember? It’s probably a different answer for each person, but I’m guessing there are some similarities. The eTrade commercials with the talking baby, the Chick-Fil-A spots featuring cows with signs that say “Eat Mor Chikin”.

What about YouTube videos? Which ones stand out?

We often have clients who tell us, “I want a viral video.” Easier said than done–and while there’s no sure fire way to make a video go viral, here are common traits we’ve noticed in viral videos:

  • The videos are different
  • Something unexpected happens in the videos
  • They are funny
  • They often tell a story
  • They focus on just a couple of key points

Here’s a great article about how telling a story can help promote a company’s brand and enhance business communication [ ]

It sounds very simple but it’s true – people like stories, read stories, and respond to stories. They work.

There’s a book titled Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath and we reference it here at Ydraw all the time.  It really helps (it’s a must-read for any business owner or marketer). The authors give a number of great examples of how a story can deliver your message better than most any other approach. They even start the book with a story!

When we’re creating a video we try to answer these 3 key questions:

Will the viewer understand it?

Will the viewer remember it?

Will the viewer enjoy it?

If we can get a “Yes” for all three, then we’re on our way (we get those positive responses by using the elements from the bullet list included above). If not, we rework it until we do. It’s a different approach for sure, but by including a narrative in videos and business communication we’ve seen better responses, higher retention rates, and more interested customers.

Give it a try! We’d love to hear your comments and your success “stories” using narratives in your efforts. Don’t be shy, you can do it!

Once again, we encourage you to Tell a Story to Make a Viral Video!

5 Reasons Jimmy Kimmel’s Twerking Girl on Fire Video went Viral

5 Reasons Jimmy Kimmel’s Twerking Girl on Fire Video went Viral

5 Reasons Jimmy Kimmel’s Twerking Girl on Fire Video went Viral – and How Yours Can Too

This article was originally featured on by Jessica Anderson


Monday night on his show Jimmy Kimmel revealed that he was the genius behind the video that received more than 9 million views in less than a week – Worst Twerk Fail Ever – Girl Catches Fire! In his reveal segment he mentioned that they did nothing to advertise the video, he simply uploaded it to YouTube and, in his words, “Let the magic happen.” However, there are a few key things about the video that helped it get big in the first place – proven methods you can apply to your own videos to boost viewership.


The public loves funny videos, and Jimmy’s video was hilarious. The fact that it’s an average young college-aged girl makes it relatable, and somehow realizing that it could’ve been anyone tickles our funny bones. Even now, knowing that it was all staged, it is still pretty funny. If you want your video to go viral, it better make people bust a gut and want to show everyone – or at least chuckle a little bit.

In the Now

Viral videos almost always have something to do with current pop culture. It seemed like one day all was relatively normal in the world and the next morning we woke up and “twerk” was in the dictionary. Jimmy Kimmel used this increasingly popular shake-your-booty club move and ran with it. He knew most YouTube users were interested in twerking, wanted to watch it, wanted to learn how to do it, or wanted to just figure out what it was all about. I’m sure if he would have done a “DIY installing a refrigerator – man catches on fire” it would have been funny, but it probably wouldn’t have had over 9 million views in less than a week.

The Unexpected

All the best videos have some sort of unexpected twist. In the case of Twerking Gone Wrong the clincher was Girl Catches Fire. The video would have been great if it ended with the roommate entering through the door and knocking the girl on the ground – but the flames were just the surprise that video needed to send it shooting through inboxes and Facebook pages across the internet.


Of course, if the video would have been titled only “Twerking Gone Wrong” it wouldn’t have been picked up as quickly. If it would’ve been titled only “Girl Catches Fire,” how would people have differentiated it between the hundreds of other YouTube videos entitled “Girl Catches Fire?” The key to the success of Jimmy’s video is the fact that it a couple different mini titles smashed together to let viewers know exactly what is in the video.


When a YouTube user wants to find a video but doesn’t know the title, they can type in keywords into the search box – and if your video doesn’t have any tags, your video won’t get pulled up in the searches. Jimmy’s video is tagged with several different keywords, including sexy, girl, lady, college, dorm, hot, a**, butt, dance, twerk, twerking, cute, beautiful, shake, university, pretty, fire, accident, fail, epic, vma, robin thicke, miley cyrus, etc… Only a handful of the tags are actually related to the video, and that may seem like cheating – but the beauty of YouTube is that the tags are really hard for viewers to find. So if a viewer was initially searching for “dog obedience classes” they can easily end up watching your online marketing video about which mattress is the best fit or a video of a twerking college girl catching fire.

The Moral of the Story:

Jimmy Kimmel probably wanted to prove to the world how easily a video could be picked up by millions of internet users and even several news stations without doing any extra work beyond uploading it to YouTube. However, he actually did do a little work, and your video has the potential to experience the same success as his so long as you follow the above basic rules of viral videos.

Viral Videos: A Fisherman’s Guide to Viral Video

Viral Videos: A Fisherman’s Guide to Viral Video

Viral videos are a constant mystery. What makes some videos go viral, while others do not?


Introducing ‘A Fisherman’s Guide to Viral Video,’ with information from experts on exactly what makes videos go viral.

Viral videos: A Fisherman’s Guide to Viral Video


After watching a video interviewing Thales Teixiera (an assistant professor at Harvard Business School) on his studies of the elements involved in making a video go viral, I came up with ‘Harvard’s Fisherman Guide to Video Viral’.

There are 4 steps in the fish catching process: the hook, the reel, the catch, and the big fish story. Viral video has these same four steps.

In the history of video ads, most people believe that videos need to have a memorable story and have the bait and hook at the end, just like a movie, saving the best for last. In recent studies this is not the case. Many people these days can skip through video ads, never getting to see the video’s bait and hook. Now, videos need to start with the hook.

(1)The Bait and Hook

Your viral video bait and hook has to be within the first five seconds of your video. It should be different, capturing the viewer’s attention with surprise and wonder.


(2)Reeling the Fish In

According to Teixiera, the way to keep viewers viewing is a lot like reeling in a fish, you alternate from yanking on the line, then letting it loose. The typical outlook people have on a viral video is that as long as your video is happy and humorous, people are more likely to watch it. This is not true. A viral video must have some funny and happy moments, and then take them away, and alternate throughout, giving apparent highs and lows.


Fishing Bait, Hook, and Reel Example: “Bud Light Swear Jar”