The Most Important Ingredient of a Viral Video (it isn’t cats)

by Jess Bachman 3 months ago Filed Under: Storytelling

There are many great YouTube personalities who can get hundreds of thousands of views with their jump-cut editing and smart content. One standout team is brothers Hank and John Green, who produce videos hosted on their YouTube channel, Vlogbrothers.

I knew that if they tried out Visual.ly’s platform for collaboration on creative projects (including videos), something really special would result. So I reached out to them and Hank Green agreed.

Hank is, among many things, a great communicator of complicated topics. Pair that ability with a first-rate animator, and the result could be truly remarkable. In our case, it was a video examining an important, yet hugely controversial issue: mass incarceration in the United States.

The results speak for themselves. Within three days of publication, the video had nearly 500,000 views and more than 3,500 comments.

Take a look:

As someone who is involved in the production of visual content daily, I was truly impressed by the speed and ease with which we blew through each production milestone. Having a collaborative platform – the proprietary Project Center on Visual.ly – certainly helped.

The Visually process for creating videos starts with writing the script. This phase went quickly, as Hank has this down to a science and required few edits. We chose Phillip Dettmer as the animator because, like Hank, he is good at explaining things — and just happened to be a huge Nerdfighters fan as well.

Once the voice over was in, the animation came along pretty quickly. There were a few rounds of revisions in which we discussed the springy-ness of the spanking scene, among other things. Incarceration is a huge topic and simply getting the video under 4 minutes was a small miracle — or a testament to both Hank and Philipp’s mad creative skills.

We wrapped up the video and it was time to put it out for the world to see. Distribution is critically important to the success of any visual project. You could have the most insightful content presented in a most creative way, but without a proper distribution platform it would hardly get noticed.

I reached out to Hank because I’m a big fan of Vlogbrothers, but also because they have a large distribution channel with almost 2 million YouTube followers. While going viral is often pure luck of the draw, if you know you have great content to share, securing enough distribution should be your top priority.

To put it in another way:

Solid Content + Production Quality = A Good Video

But

Solid Content + Production Quality + Distribution = A Viral Video

With nearly 500,000 views in just a few days, I think we are off to a good start!

 
Jess Bachman is a Creative Director at Visual.ly. Follow him on Twitter.