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”