Want To ‘GO Viral?’ Don’t Put Your Count Before Your Content!
One night, shortly after midnight, I got a call from a man in Shanghai who struggled to explain to me through his thick accent, that he wanted to commission me for a viral video. When I asked him to explain the focus of his story, he said he was looking for a music video that would expose the affair his wife was having with a Vegas Restaurateur.
Maybe I’ve watched The Godfather too many times but upsetting anyone who lives within the city limits of Las Vegas makes me nervous. For the record, I respectfully declined to write the song about the alleged affair.
When you create content that explodes in popularity and becomes YouTube-viral, the viewing analysis behind what makes it a ‘hit’ can be distilled: There are others who don’t care ‘how’ it happened, they simply want to enjoy it. Then, there are those believe a viral video can be as easily created as ordering a hamburger at McDonalds. My friend from Shanghai had recently viewed United Breaks Guitars, and he wanted a burger.
While I don’t believe a viral video can ever be guaranteed, when creating successful social media material, content is still King. Worrying more about how many people will watch it before you focus on what they will experience is like putting the cart before the horse, or in this case, the count before the content.
Prior to releasing United Breaks Guitars, my social media strategy relied upon three things that defined what a successful video looked like to me. A video would need to:
1. Look Good
2. Sound Good
3. Make People want to tell their friends about it
That was it. I could focus on the content quality to ensure I met those three goals. Before anyone else could like it, I had to like it first myself. It had to look good and sound good to me, to be share worthy by my standards.
It’s no coincidence that the most successful commercial and artistic thing I’ve done to date came on a project I cared little about. Yes, I took great care in the craftsmanship, but cared little about what others outside the project might think during the creative stage.
I recall it being fun and refreshing to write and create UBG. There were no expectations or demands, except my own. And without rules, I allowed myself to think freely and outside the box.
This is why the video succeeded. While anyone can capture content that goes viral by having a camera at the right time and right place, there’s nothing like the experience of watching something you create explode on social media.
One of my key take-aways from this experience has been the reminder that putting the cares of other people ahead of your own stifles creativity. Create first for yourself, and never put your YouTube count before the content.
Musician behind United Breaks Guitars,
Singer-Songwriter, Speaker, Author, Social Media Innovator